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How to Separate Tomato Seedlings

Were you fortunate enough that all of your tomato seeds sprouted but now you’re wondering how to separate all of the tomato seedlings, or if you should at all? The answer is yes and in the article, I will explain step by step!

Two Tomato Seedlings Growing Together

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If you are fortunate enough to have all of your tomato seeds germinate you might as well keep them all!

Even if you don’t have the space to plant every tomato plant, you could give them away to friends and family, or keep them growing in pots as a backup in case your other tomato plants die.

So now let’s go over when you should start separating your seedlings!

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When is it Time to Separate Tomato Seedlings?

I separated my tomato seedlings when they were about a month and a half old. At this point, they were plenty big enough but should have probably been separated sooner.

Multiple Tomato Seedlings Growing Together

You want to give your tomatoes plenty of time to grow in some healthy roots before you pull them apart.

So once your plants are about 4-6 inches tall and have their second set of leaves you’re good to go.

How to Separate Tomato Seedlings

If you have multiple tomato plants growing in one container it’s super easy to separate them and have multiple tomato plants!

First, gently remove the tomato plants from the pot they are growing in. Then depending on how many seedlings you have growing, gently pull each plant apart at the roots.

Second, plant each of these seedlings into its own larger container.

I don’t recommend planting the separated seedlings straight into the ground, it’s better that they get repotted and have some time to grow a stronger set of roots.

A Tomato Seedling that is Getting Repotted

How to Transplant Seedlings Into Bigger Pots

Tomatoes are pretty amazing plants and will grow roots off every part of the stem buried in the soil.

So getting repotted into a larger pot before transplanting gives them more time to establish extra roots for successful transplanting in the garden.

After you have separated each seedling, place it in a larger, deeper pot. Then cover them with soil all the way up until just below the first set of leaves.

The reason you can plant them so deep is that roots will grow from all areas of the stem covered. The more stem covered, the stronger the root system it will get.

A Tomato Transplant

Tips for Successful Repotting

  1. Keep your seedling roots moist while repotting. You should water before repotting and immediately after.
  2. After you have repotted them into larger pots give them a fertilizer such as Vitamin B-1, which will help with transplant shock and root growth.
  3. Keep your tomato transplants in an area out of the direct sun and harsh weather such as wind and rain.
  4. Keep the transplants watered well so the soil stays moist but not waterlogged.

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Next Steps After Repotting

After you have repotted your seedlings, let them grow to be about 8-12 inches tall and then transplant them out into the garden.

Repotted Tomato Transplants

Although, just be sure that all extreme weather has passed before you put them out in the garden.

Then, just like how you planted them deep when you repotted them, burry the stem up to the first set of leaves when you plant them in the ground.

This will ensure that your tomato plants grow great root systems out in the garden too!

How to Grow Your Own Tomatoes from Seed

If you’ve never grown your tomato plants from seed but are now interested, I have a great article that has all of the steps for the entire process!

Just click on this post How to Grow Tomatoes in Pots from Seed, and it’ll give you all the information you need!

How to Use Up Extra Tomatoes

Now that you may be in the same boat as I was, tripling my tomato crop, you’re likely wondering what in the world you’re going to do with all of the tomatoes when it comes time to harvest.

So here is a list of some of my favorite ways to use up fresh tomatoes:

  • Salsa
  • Bruschetta
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Caprese Salad
  • BLT’s

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Sign up and get this planting schedule with all planting dates sent straight to your inbox!!

Want to Learn More About Tomatoes?

If you’re interested in learning more about growing tomatoes here’s what to do next.

First, if you want to know where to buy your tomato seeds? Check out, Thrive Market! They have an amazing selection!

Second, learn how to start tomatoes by seed here.

Third, learn the difference between indeterminate tomatoes and determinate varieties here.

Fourth, if you only have a small amount of space, check out the best heirlooms for containers!


Multiple Tomato Seedlings Growing Together


  1. Hi Audrey!
    Have just reviewed your article re: planting tomatoes from seeds in a pot; and, both of the seed supplier websites. Enjoyed every bit of it and learned so much. All very interesting. I have lived in zone 9b for decades, BUT was raised in northwestern Ohio on Beef stake tomatoes. This past year I was introduced to Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes. I didn’t notice on your website where you are located, but if you know anything about Florida in general, you will likely agree with my overall comment: “we can’t grow a tomato period!!!” Lots of wonderful veggies but NOT tomatoes. The lady that introduced the Cherokee Purple insists they will prosper here in Florida. So I’m off to the Heirloom seed website to purchase a few seeds. Pray for me as I have the least green thumb of all time! LOL. Will continue to review your common sense information. Thanks!

    Sandi Wise

    1. Hi Sandi, thanks for the great comment! I am so happy to hear my articles have been helpful. I live in Central CA and so we have very hot weather but not humidity. The humidity can be tough for tomatoes. But heirloom varieties are great so Iā€™d love to hear how they grow for you! Keep me updated šŸ™‚

    1. Hi Ryan,

      I use different types depending on what the nursery is selling but I usually get the brand Black Gold. I also have found that nurseries almost always carry good quality brands versus just garden centers at places like walmart and lowes.

  2. Today was my first visit and I am very grateful to have found this information on separating new tomatoes for transplanting in separate pots! This is my first go round with using seeds to plant my crops instead of relying on started plants from the local stores. Thank you for providing such important information!

  3. It’s January in Wyoming. Subzero temps this weekend. But I have a garden that is feeding me. Took a retired 70 gal fish tank, got wicking ( lg) seed starting kit with tall dome, a heat mat and a Bright! Grow light LEDs that you can ask to bloom or veg growth. I eat micro greens daily and have lettuces , spinach, arugula, kale, carrots, growing. As carrots get bigger I transplant to larger, wicked pot in the retired fish tank. I eat the salad leaves while small and young. My house gets chilly but in the fish tank the mat keeps everything happy. Started Cherokee Purple tomatoes from seed from groc store tomato and they all came up.
    They will have to go to the greenhouse, but I found a tiny tomato that only grows 8-9 inches and going to wick it and add it to the garden. If someone wants a garden, in an impossible climate….I highly recommend large fish tanks!
    I planted everything in pure compost……pick and eat….can’t get better taste!
    Besides with snow blowing sideways to look over at a GREEN thriving garden is Candy to the eyes!

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