Leggy Tomato Plants and how to get them back on their feet!
Every spring I’m stuck with extra plants that I haven’t room for. They’ve become leggy, are in pots that are far too small but I haven’t the heart to throw them on the compost heap.
Well, maybe I’ll use them as back-ups just in case something happens to some of my other plants.
The first thing to do is to remove some of the lower leaf branches and pot the plants as low down as possible into bigger deeper pots. Roots will develop and grow from the main stem of each plant, the part of the stem that’s below soil level.
If you have a long window-box shaped pot/planter, you can trench them. That is, lay the plant on its side, remove at least half of its branches and bury the length of stem in the soil. The tip will grow upwards after a few days.
This has the advantage of creating a much greater root area which hopefully will give the plant new vigour.
It is surprising just how much a leggy plant can “thicken-up” its stem and become a healthy and vigorous plant again.
There are at least three reasons why plants become leggy:
- Over-crowding which reduces light and increases competition for light.
- Over-feeding increases the amount of nitrogen uptake and creates leafy tall growth.
- Over-watering tends to elongate cells – especially when light levels are low.
Feeding tomato plants before flowering
Foliar feeding is the quickest way to get food into a plant. Before flowering, use a general purpose feed like Miracle Grow that has both macro and micro nutrients. After the plants have started to flower is when tomato food (potash/potassium) is given.
A good way to get those leaves looking healthy and green is by using fish emulsion sprayed onto the leaves which is a bit smelly but a great tonic. Seaweed is also a very good organic tonic for boosting growth.
If your plants are flowering, go easy on anything that contains a lot of nitrogen as this can cause blossom drop.