Plant Tomatoes Deep, Deep, Deep

The stem of the tomato transplant will sprout roots that give the plant a better start.

Cover the stem up to the plant’s leaves. You can even cover the first few leaves with soil. Roots will grow along the buried stem to make the plant stronger.

Each Bonnie tomato label urges you to plant tomatoes deep, so that a full 2/3 of the plant is underground. That means that if you buy a 10-inch tall plant, all but the top three inches is buried. Why? Because the plant will have a better, stronger root system. Better roots mean better tomatoes.

This tomato transplant is planted deeply in the container.

Whether in a pot or in the ground, set each tomato plant so that 2/3 of the plant is buried.

We know, we know. This goes against everything you’ve ever heard about “don’t plant too deeply or you’ll kill the plant.” Tomatoes break that rule. They sprout roots along the buried stem. The extra roots strengthen a plant so that it can support more fruit and is better able to survive hot weather. (This applies whether you’re growing in the ground, in a raised bed, or in a container.)

In really heavy soil, or if you just don’t want to dig deeply, you can lay the plant on its side, provided that it is at least 5 or 6 inches deep when buried, and that the ground beneath it isn’t hard as a brick. To do this, angle the plant so that the growing tip is above ground. If your soil drains poorly, create a raised bed with potting soil that is piled at least 8 inches above ground level.

Once you’ve nearly buried it in soil, only the top few inches of the plant will be exposed. Water well, label the plant (to help you remember which variety you’re growing), and watch your tomato plant grow big and strong. Within a few weeks, your plants with super roots will delight you with a bountiful harvest of lovely fruit.