What to do with too tall tomato plants

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too tall tomato plants

Have you ever started your own tomato seeds only to end up with too tall tomato plants?  It happened to me this year.  The cold lingered on longer than expected and the plants kept growing until the tomato plants were too tall.  They can often be salvaged though.

First, I cut the stems off above the soil.  Where you cut your tomato plants, depends on how tall your too tall tomato plants are.  Basically, just cut them the height you want them.  It is best to trim off all but the top few leaf stems.  A lot of leaves left on the plant will drain its energy.

too tall tomato plant

Next, I place them in the planting container and fill with moist potting soil. (In this case, I took plastic cups and punched holes in them.  The holes should have been bigger, I think more air flow would have been better for them.)  The soil will need to be kept decently moist while the plant is struggling to grow new roots.

too tall tomato plant

too tall tomato plants

They will look droopy the next day.  In a few days, they may even start to curl their leaves and look worse.  Don’t give up on them.  Keep them moist.  While they need a little sunshine, they need to be kept out of hot direct sun for several days.

 

In a few weeks, they will have perked back up and grown new roots.  At least most of them will.  You may lose a few plants that just are not very successful in growing new roots, but the majority will grow new roots and be ready to put out in the garden before too long.

 

Last year was the first time I really put this to the test.  We had a cold spell sweep through after some of our tomato plants were already planted in the garden.  Along with the cold were fierce winds.  The wind was so strong it snapped one of the young tomato plants off at the base.  By the time I rescued it, it was a mud splashed tattered pitiful looking thing.  I brought it inside, washed it off, and stuck it in a cup of water until it perked back up.  Once the plant was looking perky again, I placed it in potting soil and set it in the window.  In a few weeks it had grown new roots.  Several weeks after plucking the bedraggled little plant stem from the garden, I re-planted it with its new set of roots back in the garden.  During the weeks it had been inside, we had continued to have cold, windy, un-pleasant weather.  When this plant was re-placed in the garden, it had warmed up and turned nicer weather.  We joked that this little plant had a story to tell all the other tomato plants.  “While y’all were out here in all that cold windy rain, I’ve been inside the warm cozy house watching y’all from the window. . .”

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