After the tomato seeds have germinated sooner or later yo have to repot the seedlings into bigger pots, so before planting them in the garden it is advisable to repot them first. Repotting is best done when the seedlings have at least one set of true leaves or when the roots filled up the container they are currently growing in, you can check the pots at the drainage holes and you will see tiny white roots, it means it is time to repot the tomatoes.It also helps strengthen roots and prevent leggy plants.
When planting tomato seedlings, bury their stem a little deeper than it was originally in their seed cell or original container; you can be brave and just plant the tomato seedling as deep as their first set of leaves. This will prevent he seedlings to grow more leggy and will encourage additional roots to form below the surface.
From seed tray to small pots
If you sow the seeds in a seed tray you may need to repot the tomato seedlings when they have their first true leaves is an effective way to encourage root development. Once they reach three times their original pot size (around 6-10 inches tall), upgrading could be necessary; when transplanting them be sure to hold by their leaves instead of stems as this will help avoid crushing delicate stem tissue and encourage adventitious root formation up their stem. Furthermore, add multipurpose compost at the base of their new container to encourage the roots growing from beneath its base and up the stem.
Before repotting seedlings, it is a good practice to remove them from their existing containers with a dibbler or wooden skewer and label each seedling individually so you can easily identify which plants need transferring into larger pots. Once your new pots are full of high-quality compost up to an inch from the top edge, gently ease your seedlings into their new homes.
Repotting tomato seedlings helps them establish strong roots and achieve proper top growth. If left in one container for too long, their roots could become rootbound, stunting their progress.
Transplanting dibbers or wooden lolly sticks or spoons are great tools to use when transplanting seedlings from their seed tray or pot into larger containers with nutrient-rich soil. Be careful when picking them up by the stem as this could damage its tiny tubes that carry water and nutrients throughout their plant – instead hold onto their seed leaves, such as their cotyledon (seed leaf) or true leaves, instead.
When planting into their new container, bury the seedlings deeper than before to help them become used to being planted and reduce any stress during their growing process. Doing this also allows more sunlight in and encourages photosynthesis while helping prevent leggy growth of your plants.
From small pots to larger pots
If you sow the tomato seeds into small pots then you will have more time before the seedlings need repotting. Be sure to use new, clean pots that are at least two sizes larger than the old ones when repotting, and ensure that any soil used should be thoroughly sterilised to reduce bacteria and disease transmission.
Be mindful that tomato plants are highly sensitive to stress and that repotting may temporarily cause them to wilt, though most will eventually rebound when placed back into a warm and sunny spot under lights.
Repotting tomato plants requires loosening its roots with a butter knife at the side of the old pots and tipping them upside down; never pull by their stem! Gently massage the root ball to loosen any tight clumps of roots and bury deeper than before to encourage the roots to grow and they will help take up nutrients more readily once planted in the ground.
Repotting the the young tomato plants the second time
If your tomato plants are growing too rapidly and their roots begin to fill their current container or their grow too leggy and the foliage appears thin, it may be time for an upgrade in pot size. When repotting, always use a clean pot that’s double the size than their current one and has drainage holes at its base.
Make sure to handle each plant carefully, untangling any that are tangled up together. After moving them, water them well and provide plenty of light to discourage the tomato plants to grow leggy after repotting.