Skoorbmax
Cool Member
Posts: 65
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 9:38 pm
Location: NY

Two seedlings in one pot: Do I remove one?

This question really applies to tomatoes and cucumbers, both which appear to often be sold with two plants very close to each other.

Should both be left to mature? I presume that a person ought to transplant, wait a few days and assuming both are still alive and transplanted well to remove one, right?

I just bought a pair of beef steak tonight and it seems they'd crowd each other out if left together. They're pretty healthy size at the moment.

And tomatoes aside, must the same rule be followed for cucumbers? I figure with them vining I can kind of lead them away from each other so although their roots will be close buddies the plants themselves can probably get enough airspace...

User avatar
Kisal
Mod Emeritus
Posts: 7648
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:04 am
Location: Oregon

Depending on how large the seedlings are (and the mood I'm in ... :lol: ), I might try to separate them and pot them up individually.

The roots will undoubtedly be intertwined, but sometimes, with patience and a gentle hand, the point of a small knife or other fine instrument can can be used to tease them apart. This works well with smaller seedlings.

If the plants are larger and not too close together in the pot, I might just use a sharp knife to cut the root ball in half between the stems. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

Skoorbmax
Cool Member
Posts: 65
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 9:38 pm
Location: NY

Kisal wrote:Depending on how large the seedlings are (and the mood I'm in ... :lol: ), I might try to separate them and pot them up individually.

The roots will undoubtedly be intertwined, but sometimes, with patience and a gentle hand, the point of a small knife or other fine instrument can can be used to tease them apart. This works well with smaller seedlings.

If the plants are larger and not too close together in the pot, I might just use a sharp knife to cut the root ball in half between the stems. :)
Thanks, but these are pretty darn well coming along, about a foot on each plant heavily leafed and perhaps only 2 inches apart so the roots are definitely a total jungle. I think that if I put a knife down in there I'm going to cause a lot of root stress and with my transplanting luck I want to do everything I can! Assuming I cannot separate them is there a chance they can grow that close together and do fine or should I just sacrifice one?

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Definitely for the tomatoes, I think you have to separate them. I'm with Kisal that I think if you just be sure the soil they are in is nice and moist, they can probably be gently pulled/pried apart. But if you have to sacrifice one, so be it. Remember those tomato plants are going to be 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide or more. No way is it going to work to have two of them growing out of the same spot.


As you suggest, it may be a little different for cucumber vines, but I would still lean towards separating them, due to the root systems competing too much.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Skoorbmax
Cool Member
Posts: 65
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 9:38 pm
Location: NY

[img]https://i897.photobucket.com/albums/ac177/Skoorb100/tomato-2.jpg[/img]

Here they are :) Pic is deceiving in scale but they are 12-15" high. Going to have these in a pot on the deck.

TZ -OH6
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2097
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:27 pm
Location: Mid Ohio

Tomatoes are tough. I would take a serrated steak knife and cut the root ball in half and separate them. I don't know how well cucumbers take to root damage, but if the plants were an inch or more apart I would also try to separate them. Teasing roots apart can sometimes cause more stress and damage to the whole root mass than a clean cut that removes part of the roots.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

They look like two nice healthy plants. They will separate fine, but if you are going to grow them in pots, neither one can stay in the pot they are in, way too small. You need at least five gallon bucket size pot PER PLANT, if not a little bigger.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

TWC015
Senior Member
Posts: 207
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:43 pm
Location: Jefferson Co., Arkansas

If I have tomato plants like this, then I take them out of the pot, use the water hose to blast off as much soil as I can, and then submerge the roots under water and gently pull them apart.

This does not break many roots when i use this method. The tomato plants wilt for a few days but then continue growth after the roots are acclimated. I just make sure they have lots of water after separation since they have been severely stressed.

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

I'm growing a number of tomato plants this year which I purposely planted more than one plant to a hole. The root balls are touching. One group of Brandywines has four plants in one hole. I just wanted to see how they will do. I also have many plants with a single plant to a hole.

I planted the four, and three, and two, and one Brandywines because they are known to become huge plants when grown. I wanted to find out if multiple plantings would retard the overall growth of the plants but still allow for normal blooming and fruiting of each plant. So far, it is working. The four plants together are slightly smaller (about 24" tall) and are blooming slower than the other groupings which top out at about 36" tall. The smaller groupings have produced more blooms and have more small fruit. The real test will be at the end of the season when all of the plants have finished growing and producing. If the grouping of four is slower growing and produces later, that will be fine with me.

I also have five Prudens Purple plants which were planted two plants per hole for a total of ten plants. They are the largest tomato plants in my garden at somewhere over 36" tall and are blooming and fruiting great.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

jmoore
Senior Member
Posts: 235
Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:57 am
Location: Dallas, TX

I've got two Better Boys almost exactly like that in the ground about 6" apart. They are both growing fine but are slow to fruit so far. The Bradywines tedln gave me had two stems virtally touching. I just put them in the ground as is and they are both doing well too, but slow to fruit.

Hopefully they are not competing too much to fruit, but we'll see.

Obviously none of that info helped you at all. :lol:

User avatar
Kisal
Mod Emeritus
Posts: 7648
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:04 am
Location: Oregon

While multiple tomato plants placed together in one planting hole in the ground may do well, I'm not so sure about multiple tomato plants growing together in the same pot. The roots of plants in the ground can spread as far as they need to in order to get the nutrients they need. The roots of plants in containers are constrained, and there is a limited amount of soil and nutrients available. In addition, unless the plants were grown in a very large container, the confined space could compact the roots to the extent that they could no longer absorb moisture and nutrients to keep the top growth alive. JMO. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Kisal wrote:While multiple tomato plants placed together in one planting hole in the ground may do well, I'm not so sure about multiple tomato plants growing together in the same pot. The roots of plants in the ground can spread as far as they need to in order to get the nutrients they need. The roots of plants in containers are constrained, and there is a limited amount of soil and nutrients available. In addition, unless the plants were grown in a very large container, the confined space could compact the roots to the extent that they could no longer absorb moisture and nutrients to keep the top growth alive. JMO. :)
I agree. I thought he was putting them in the soil.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

Nick D
Full Member
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:08 am
Location: 7b, nw ga

Kisal wrote:While multiple tomato plants placed together in one planting hole in the ground may do well, I'm not so sure about multiple tomato plants growing together in the same pot. The roots of plants in the ground can spread as far as they need to in order to get the nutrients they need. The roots of plants in containers are constrained, and there is a limited amount of soil and nutrients available. In addition, unless the plants were grown in a very large container, the confined space could compact the roots to the extent that they could no longer absorb moisture and nutrients to keep the top growth alive. JMO. :)

I ran into this with a store-bought cherry tomato plant I had. It was in a 10"-square pot, and about 18 inches tall when it started looking droopy. So I got to looking around for pests in the pot, and find this:

[img]https://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b178/nickdraudt/Mobile%20Uploads/0503001702.jpg[/img]

It was three separate plants! I immediately got busy extending a row in the garden to make room, and put them in the ground. It took about a week for them to acclimate. I trimmed off some sick branches to help them along, and it worked...they started focusing on new growth and spreading roots (they were badly root-bound), and look 100x happier and healthier than they did in the pot.
Nick
Zone 7b, NW Ga.

Return to “TOMATO FORUM”