Hypothetically...transplanting a 6ft tall tomato plant.

aphidsquishJuly 26, 2014

I have this 6 ft tall very root-bound yellow pear cherry plant in a 5 gallon HD bucket named "Heather" (the plant, not the bucket). She looks absolutely ridiculous in that tiny bucket. I know she wants 3x as much space or more and next year and I will plan accordingly. I will also look up how big the plants will get before buying and planting.

So, just hypothetically, if I wanted to transplant Heather, how would I possibly go about it, if at all? I'm not going to try it because it would be a fiasco and I would have 100 green cherry tomatoes bouncing on the floor during the process. I was curious because I have transplanted larger plants easily because they were in thin plastic pots that I could just slyly cut off without the plant noticing. In order to do that with the HD bucket I would need a chainsaw, an idea which I find hilarious because the plant is named after the 80's movie "Heathers." But obviously I'm not insane enough to try it.

Just wondering what other people's experiences are with transplanting bigger plants. How far can you push it?

This post was edited by aphidsquish on Sat, Jul 26, 14 at 15:52

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You could always cut away part of the bucket........and then bury or mound up the dirt.....That would allow the roots to expand into the surrounding soils

I have SAFELY cut a diagonal slice of the side and bottom of a planted bucket using a Reciprocating Saw and a fairly long blade

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 7:50PM
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Well paint me impressed, I guess it is possible. I fully expected people to confirm what I thought- that the plant is too big/mature and that transplanting can't be done w/o total disaster. And a diagonal slice is a clever idea. Too bad I don't own any power tools. However, I seem to knock off those green cherries so easily and any attempt to tip the plant too much would knock a ton of them off. How did you manage the plant itself? Did someone tip the bucket and hold it and the plant in place while you cut it?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 9:33PM
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NO Transplanting!!!......the tomato remains in the bucket.....just add some needed breathing room.....

A Reciprocating saw is also called a Sawsall......A giant jigsaw that the blade protrudes forward.......

Using a Demo blade about 10" long......the bucket remains on the ground in-place......the blade invades the bucket at ground level cutting Dirt, Plastic Bottom, Mix/Roots and Plastic Side all at once....just a few hard shakes as the blade first catches the plastic edge......

EVEN a cheap JigSaw .....altho much slower and rougher...... will cut thru the SIDE of the bucket while it's in place

There are also a group of "multi" tools that have potential for cutting this
....."You need you a Handy-MANLY man"

Then just mound up the soil for the roots

Good Luck....doug

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 10:50PM
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I've transplanted fully fruiting large indeterminate plants several times. Just don't water immediately before you do this transplant. That's to make sure the roots and growing medium (mix) can remain together and not crumble away. Get some help to tend to the stems and foliage while you do the heavy work. Here's what I'd do.

Go back to that Home Depot and look around the garden supplies for a ~15 gallon container. They used to sell a blue tub for about $6.00 and it had rope handles. Drill some holes in the sides about 2 to 3 inches above the bottom. Don't drill directly into the bottom.

Now, place the tub in its final assigned position. Put about 3 to 4 inches of fresh potting mix into the tub. Now, take a flat piece of wood or metal (the small paint paddles work fine) and make sure the plant's root ball and mix is not stuck to the sides of the 5 gallon bucket. Grab the tomato plant's stem way down close to the top of the growing medium in the 5 gallon bucket and gently lift the plant out of the bucket.

Place the plant's root ball into the center of the new tub and stand it up. Now add new potting mix all around, filling the new tub up. Pack (tamp) it in to firm up the whole thing. Now water it in, reinstall any support systems, and you're done.

Depending on how much foliage you have to deal with, you may need someone to help support the branches while you remove the plant from the bucket and set it into the tub.

I've done a Yellow Pear before. The last plant I did was a Cherokee Purple.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:12AM
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OMG Ted. That's awesome. That's the kind of the idea I had if I were to attempt it- stabilize the top and grab it by the base of the stem and find a way to shimmy it out. It's nice to know I have options, but I probably won't attempt it on this particular plant. The plant is beautiful but the tomatoes aren't blowing me away- pretty on the outside but lacking in substance (i.e., taste)- and so named after the shallow teen girls in the movie Heathers. Plus I'm on a balcony with a roof so I wouldn't have much room to maneuver since the plant + bucket is 7 ft or more. However, as long as she keeps producing food I will let her be.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:39AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

It can be done. It would be helpful to have borrow extra coupl of hands too.

ONE way is to sacrifice the old bucket. to do this you will need a good sharp knife:

1- Prepare a new container wit 3-4" potting mix at the bottom.
2- cut the bottom of the bucket (~ 1 inch)
3- Now lift the plant in the bucket/with the bucket, (leaving the bottom behind) and place it in the new container.
4- Cut the bucket length wise and remove the piece/s.
5- fill soil around the root bulb up to the previous level or higher if there is room.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 3:03PM
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That's exactly how I have been transplanting the ones in the big, flimsy plastic pots that I can cut with scissors. I wondered if someone could do that with a bucket, but I think I would end up cutting myself. It looks like there are multiple ways to do this if I really need to in the future. As I said, this is a yellow pear plant I'm not attached to, but for future reference this is all good information.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 5:02PM
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