Repotting tomatoes a good idea?

petunia2(z3B, AB Canada)May 7, 2011

I know it's a while before we can plant out things in Edmonton, but...I couldn't resist, and bought some tomato plants. They are in pots made of a heavy sort of matting(much sturdier than peat pots but not solid plastic), and some of the roots are coming through the bottom.

Knowing it is probably 3 or more weeks until I can plant them in their permanent spots, is it a good idea to re-pot the plants in larger containers as an interim step? Their present containers are about 4", and I would keep them indoors under lights until it warms up.

Any advice appreciated!

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Hi petunia2.

I'm no expert but if I were you, I would definitely repot your tomatoes. Sounds like they're root bound already. If you pot them up covering the bottom part of the stem, they'll grow more roots for you. Apparently repotting is a good thing for tomatoes. When I repotted some of my seedlings they seemed to do better than the ones that I haven't gotten to yet.

I see your favourite forum is growing from seed, so I assume you have proper lighting.

BTW How big are the plants and how many do you have? If you like to "take a ride on the wild side" you could start hardening off maybe half of the plants once they've gotten used to being repotted, and plant half of them a week or so before it's recommended in Edmonton, and see if there's any difference in production by the end of the season.

Then you could report your findings to us =:)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 11:56AM
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petunia2(z3B, AB Canada)

Thanks for the quick response. I believe I will repot them, and may do as you suggest and try setting them out at different times.

My efforts to grow from seed this year didn't work out very well--much of what I grew was lost to damping off--never had it before, but it struck badly! A few things--e.g. columbine--seem to have escaped, but I have no tomatoes at all. So this is the year I am buying.

FYI, since posting my question this morning, I've been out and about at a number of places selling flowers and plants--and it looks like many of us in Alberta are more than ready for spring! Just have to hold off a bit yet, as we know how finicky spring weather can be!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 2:46PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

I also would re-pot them. If you don't you will have to water them constantly and it will slow their growth. I'm having the same thing with many of my seedlings, the ones in bigger pots are doing much better. I've had to pinch out my tomatoes already because they were trying to flower.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 3:49PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Yes...root bound can make them stunted,.. that's why we like to seed them late in April.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:27PM
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When I repot my tomatoes, I plant up to them bottom set of leaves. I also do some root pruning, when you do this the plant will grow more feeder roots. I find that by doing this the plant will be sturdier once planted out.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 8:49AM
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petunia2(z3B, AB Canada)

Well, I did replant yesterday morning, and they look better already! Thanks, everyone!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 11:05AM
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When I grew tomatoes in pots I used to plant them near the bottom of a large pot, trimmed off the bottom set of leaves and filled soil to that level. As the plant grew I again removed the bottom set of leaves and added more soil. I continued to do that until the pot was full of soil and the plant had a great root system. The same can be done in the garden either planting in a deep hole or sideways. One of the keys to healthy tomato plants is to have a good root system and this needs to be started early.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 11:34AM
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Luckygal, what a great idea. Why didn't I think of that? Next time =:)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 9:44PM
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