A raised bed is a great way to garden if you have limited space or poor soil quality. You can grow a lot of plants in raised garden beds, including juicy tomatoes.
But just how many tomato plants will fit in a raised bed? Let’s figure out how many fit in a square foot, and then we can determine the total you can fit in your raised bed.
How Many Tomato Plants Per Square Foot
Of course, the answer is that it depends. But let’s dig into that more. The main reason it’s going to depend on is what type of tomato plant you’re growing in your raised garden bed.
Determinate vs Indeterminate Tomatoes
If you’ve never heard these terms before, it can be a little confusing, but once you understand it’s pretty simple.
Determinate tomatoes are those that only have one harvest. They grow all of their tomato fruits at one time, and then they stop producing for the season. Determinate tomatoes tend to be shorter (around 2-4 feet tall), are bushier, and don’t need to be pruned as much. Since you’re trying to maximize the harvest you don’t want to cut off any potential branches with flowers on them.
With determinates, you probably want to space tomato plants around 24-36 inches apart in order to make sure you have enough room. Roma tomatoes are one common variety of determinate tomatoes.
Indeterminate tomatoes continuously produce tomatoes throughout the growing season. Indeterminate plants usually get to around 4-6 feet tall and can be pruned more to get them to focus on growing one main stem vs a lot of bushy branches.
Since determinate tomato plants are much bushier than indeterminates, they need a little more growing space, which is why the type matters when we’re trying to determine how much space they need.
How Far Apart to Plant Tomatoes
The general rule of thumb on any tomato seed packet is going to tell you that you need to leave 18-24 inches between tomato plants.
For an indeterminate variety that you’re going to be diligent in pruning, that’s probably enough. You may want to leave a little more room between determinate varieties that will get bushier by nature.
Here are the numbers I use when spacing out tomato plants. Now, of course with the larger beds, you might not be planting all tomatoes, so these numbers are not hard and fast rules.
|Width||Length||Total Tomato Plants|
|2×4 Raised Bed||2 Feet||4 Feet||4|
|3×5 Raised Bed||3 Feet||5 Feet||7|
|3×6 Raised Bed||3 Feet||6 Feet||9|
|4×4 Raised Bed||4 Feet||4 Feet||8|
|4×8 Raised Bed||4 Feet||8 Feet||16|
|4×12 Raised Bed||4 Feet||12 Feet||24|
|8×8 Raised Bed||8 Feet||8 Feet||32|
If you’re using the square foot gardening method, you can be planting one plant per square foot in your grid.
To get this high number of plants in the space, you’re going to want to be diligent with pruning (if necessary) and trellising. If you know that you aren’t going to be able to keep up with that, you might want to give them a little more space.
Trellising Your Tomato Plants
Using a trellis is going to be a great way to better “control” the plant’s growth and make sure you don’t end up with a tomato jungle, and poor air circulation for the plants.
Without proper airflow, your tomato plants are more likely to contract a disease or spread pests around.
I like to use a florida weave trellis to help keep tomatoes upright and be able to be more nimble with them as they grow. All you need is some garden jute (twine) and T-posts or another taller support.
While this isn’t in a raised bed, this concept still works great with T-posts and other supports.
And no, my twine isn’t blue and red, I just drew those lines on to help you visualize it. 🙂
How Many Plants in a Raised Bed
You have the numbers broken down above in the chart, but let’s talk through some of these common raised bed sizes.
Each of the squares in the diagrams below is a square foot.
How Many Tomato Plants in a 4×4 Raised Bed?
In a 4×4 raised bed, you can properly space 8 tomato plants. You want to leave a square foot between each plant to ensure you have space for them to properly spread out. While some people would put more space between, if you follow the square foot gardening method you know that this will work.
Eight plants is a good number in this size if they are indeterminate. If you’re growing determinate varieties, you might want to consider only four plants.
How Many Tomato Plants in a 4×8 Raised Bed?
In a 4×4 foot raised bed you can fit 16 plants.
Similar to the other grids, you’ll want to leave a square foot between each single tomato plant to ensure they have a decent amount of space to spread out in your raised beds.
How Many Tomato Plants in a 4×12 Foot Raised Bed?
In a 4×12 foot raised bed, you can fit around 24 tomato plants.
That’s a LOT of tomatoes! 🙂 Of course, you don’t need to grow tomatoes in every spot of this grid, but I created it to give you an idea of what that would look like.
Pruning Your Tomato Plants
Pruning is going to be critical in making sure your tomato plants not get “unruly” if you know what I mean. Believe it or not, tomatoes want to grow along the ground as they are vining plants.
With determinate tomatoes, you don’t need to prune them, and honestly I wouldn’t. You only get a set amount of fruits off of these plants so pruning off the suckers can mean that you are removing branches that will end up producing tomatoes.
However, with indeterminate varieties you’ll want to prune your tomato plant. At the beginning of the season, you want to wait until there are at least 5 branches before you start pruning tomatoes in your raised beds.
Once your plants are more established, you’ll start seeing these new growths coming off of the main stem. These are called tomato suckers, and you want to remove them to help the main stem stay the main stem. If you let every branch grow out, your plants will get quite unruly and not focus their attention on growing flowers, which lead to tomatoes.
For a bigger harvest, pruning is critical when growing tomatoes.
Proper Spacing for Tomato Plants
Spacing tomato plants is an art, and it really depends on your varieties, how long your growing season is, and how diligent you are with pruning.
Good spacing technique will give your tomatoes better air circulation and a large harvest.
Now that you know how many tomatoes to put in your raised bed, you might be interested in how I like to fill the bottom of the raised bed cheaply, because adding that much soil can get expensive!