Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Gardening >
Jun 6, 2012 08:57 AM


hi all. i'm trying my hand at growing tomatoes (early girl and grape) in plastic pots this year. they're coming along quite nicely so far but it seems that i made a a beginner's mistake. they are planted in 3 gallon containers and it seems that most people agree that 5 gallon (or bigger) should be the minimum size used.

would it be beneficial to drill large holes in the 3 gallon containers (bottom and sides) and place it in a larger 5 gallon container with soil? it sounds as though completely removing the pant from its current home would be a bad idea as that seems to often stress plants. any advice would be appreciated.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't think putting the 3 gal pot into a 5 gal pot will work. It will inhibit the root growth and not do much of anything but strangle itself.

    I would suggest doing 2 things:

    1. Remove the entire plant from the 3 gal pot and immediately place it into the 5 gal. You may see some stress and wilting for a day or 2, but it should perk right back up.

    2. Snip off 1 or 2 very large sucker branches from the plant and place them into the 3 gal pot full of soil (stick the stem 6-7 inches into the soil). Again, you may see some drooping for a day or 2, but they'll come back.

    Point 2 is just in case the movement of the larger plant from the 3 to 5 gal pot doesn't take. Those planted suckers will self-root and start to grow into their own plant. Once sizeable, you can transplant into the 5 gal pot....just as a backup plan.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Novelli

      I concur with #1,

      I grow a lot of plants in containers and my only suggestion would be to consider using a 7 gallon pot rather than a 5 gallon.

      I transplant lots of plants from seed/cuttings via 4 inch, 1 gallon, 3 gallon to 7 gallon container size progression. For most plants the greater yield from the 7 gallon more than makes up for the slightly greater space the larger container takes up.

    2. I agree a repotting might be best; this early in the year, the plant should be young enough to overcome any trauma.

      If you want to get crazy with the drilling idea, you could drill several holes close together in a straight line around the upper part of the pot. Snip the (hopefully) thin bits of plastic connecting the holes. This should create sort of a collar around the upper part of the soil but leave the lower part free for the roots to spread in the larger pot. Re-plant the whole thing in the larger pot, including pouring soil from the bottom of the first pot into the second. Just a thought, not something I've done or seen done. But I like a power tool challenge.