Leggy Tomato Plants and how to get them back on their feet!

Every year at around this time of the season, I’m stuck with those 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.

Leggy Tomato Plants

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 with leggy tomato plants is to remove some of the lower leaf branches and pot the plants as low down as possible into bigger pots. Roots will develop and grow from the main stem of each plant, the new bit that’s below soil level.

Trenching leggy tomato plants

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.

Feeding plants before flowering

Foliar feeding is the quickest way to get food into a plant but use a general purpose feed like Miracle Grow that has both macro and micro nutrients.

A good way to get those leaves looking healthy and green is by using fish emulsion sprayed onto the leaves – a bit smelly but a great tonic.

If your plants are flowering, go easy on anything that contains a lot of nitrogen as this can cause blossom drop.

6 Responses

  1. Sue Allan
    | Reply

    Feeding Plants
    I’ve made my own seaweed feed – fresh seaweed in a bucket topped up with rainwater (it keeps refilling due to the amount of rain) and I’m using this on the tomatoes growing in the pop-up greenhouses. Be interesting to see if there’s any difference between those, and the normal grow-bags ones which are just watered. I live on the Isle of Wight so plenty of seaweed available!

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Sue,
      It’s always interesting and a very good idea to compare the difference in growth between plants that are given different nutrients.
      Regards,
      Nick

  2. Sue Allan
    | Reply

    Trenching
    Thanks for this great tip. I had one odd leggy plant and nowhere to put it, so I popped it sideways into a plastic window-box planter yesterday, and even today, it’s started to turn upwards!

  3. Sue Allan
    | Reply

    Thanks for all these great tips. Never realised Toms don’t like rainwater on their leaves, so I now cover up with a homemade bubblewrap “umbrella” on the outdoor ones, and the others I have put inside the pop-up plastic greenhouses. Removed the shelves and planted in tubs at the bottom and they’ve grown up through the shelf supports! Now they’ve reached the roof, about 4’6″ tall. Should I pinch out the top and hope that more sideshoots will appear, otherwise I would have to take the plastic cover off and leave them exposed to rain. Any thoughts please?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Sue,
      It depends on how many trusses you have – branches with flowers on.
      If would allow between four and six trusses then pinch the top out of the main growing stem.
      Regards,
      Nick

      • Sue Allan
        | Reply

        Thanks – I think there’s 4. I’ve raised the plastic covering a bit now to allow more room. They’re doing really well compared to the ones outside!

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