Planting Vegetables

Plant Tomatoes on Their Side

When you start your own tomato plants indoors, they tend to be a bit wimpy: tall and thin with few lower leaves. You may even feel ashamed about planting them in your vegetable garden lest your neighbors laugh at you!

Well, they won’t laugh if you apply the following trick:

Instead of planting scrawny tomato plants upright, dig a lengthwise hole and place them on their side, bending the top part upward so it remains exposed. Then just cover the bare stem with soil. The plant will instantly look perfectly sound … and roots will grow on the buried part, giving you an even more vigorous plant that you would have had it were it planted upright. So your scrawny homegrown tomato plant may well outdo the sturdy-looking but much more expensive store-bought one!

Warning: do not plant grafted tomatoes this way. Whether you buy them or grow your own, with these especially vigorous tomatoes, the graft union must always be above the ground. If you bury the graft point, the scion (top part) will take root and benefits of grafting (greater vigor, productivity and disease resistance) will be lost.

Adapted from an article originally published on June 3, 2015.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

3 comments on “Plant Tomatoes on Their Side

  1. Margaret

    I love this! In the past, have planted my tomatoes with much of the scrawny stem under ground. But this way, I wouldn’t have to dig as deep a hole. Good for me and my aching back. Very laidback!m

    • If possible, I prefer a deeper hole because the lower soil does not dry out as readily as the upper. (Moisture is a concern here.) It really depends on how tall the plants are, how easy the digging is, and how the soil holds moisture. I do this with a few annual plants.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: