Caring for Tomatoes After Transplanting

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Caring for tomatoes after transplanting is a breeze if you follow a few easy guidelines. Truthfully, tomatoes are not that difficult to grow at all. This is one of the reasons why growing tomatoes is so popular in most home vegetable gardens. Of course, you want the most optimum conditions you can possibly provide in order to allow the tomato plant to reach its full potential.

To help your transplanted tomatoes reach their greatest performance some tasks are necessary. Here are nine tips on caring for tomatoes that will have them bursting with big, beautiful globes come July and August.

Provide Mulch

Use an Organic Mulch Around Tomato Plants

Mulching around your tomato plants is key for several reasons. Adding mulch will help to conserve moisture in the soil, suppress weeds and help to warm the soil quicker in spring. This is a good way to get your tomato transplants growing quickly in slightly cooler weather.

Another advantage to adding mulch is it helps to keep soil from splashing up on the plant during storms or heavy rain. This can be a key element for preventing soil-born diseases, such as blight.

Provide Support

Add Stakes or Cages To Tomato Plants

You can buy some pom-poms and do a cheer for your tomato plants, they might enjoy it, but that’s not what I really mean.

What I’m getting at is to provide stakes or a tomato cage for your tomatoes. Tomato plants are really considered a vine, and vines needs something to keep them off the ground. By supporting your tomatoes with a stake or cage, they will live longer and produce much better. Tomatoes that are left on the ground will usually rot before they become ripe, and no one wants to pick up a gorgeous tomato just to find it rotten on the bottom.

Prune Suckers and Bottom Leaves

Prune Tomato Suckers and Bottom Leaves

While the tomato plant is still young and growing, prune any suckers you may find. Suckers are those little branches that form in the “Y” of the main stem and a limb. You can simply use your thumb and forefinger to pinch these off. Pruning the suckers forces the tomato plant to concentrate more of its energy towards developing a stronger root system, which is better for long term production and growth.

I also like to snip off the very bottom set of limbs from the plant, especially if they are touching the mulch/soil. These limbs will typically turn yellow once the plant matures and are usually the first to get disease, such as blight. Much of this is due to its contact with the soil or mulch.

Once the tomato plants begin maturing you can stop pruning suckers to avoid sunscald.

Pinch Any Early Blooms

Pinch Off Early Blooms

Pinch off any blooms you may find until the plant reaches at least 30 to 36 inches tall. You may think you are in tomato heaven when you see blooms on a 16 inch tall tomato plant, but if you allow the tomato to continue the plant could suffer in the long run.

You want the tomato plant to concentrate on developing a strong root system before it begins setting fruit. Setting fruit early may cause lower production throughout the overall season.

Watch For Wilting

Wilted Tomato Plant

Wilting is typically associated with a lack of water, which could very well be the case. Make sure you water new transplants well the first week after transplanting into the garden. Wilting could also be due to very high temperatures. If you have crazy Spring times like I do, a few 90°F days in early Spring is very likely.

During times of high temperatures, you may need to provide the new tomato transplants some shade during the hottest times of the day – generally from noon to about 3 P.M.

Watch For Leaf Roll

Tomato Leaf Roll

Leaves that look like they are curling, or rolling up, are a sign of stress. Stress can be from a lack of water, too much water, or from recently being transplanted. Monitor the tomato plants for leaf roll and adjust watering levels, if possible. Transplant shock can be helped by providing the correct amounts of water and by adding phosphorus to the soil. Phosphorus will help to strengthen the root system and get the tomato plant out of its funk.

Avoid Over-fertilizing

Organic Tomato Fertilizer

It is tempting to add a bunch of fertilizer in order to cause your tomato plants to grow bigger, faster. Fertilizing tomatoes too much is going to do the opposite. The plant can only absorb so many nutrients so hold off on the fertilizers. Tomatoes should really only be fertilized three times per year at the most – when it is transplanted into the garden, when it begins to bloom, and finally when it begins to set fruit.

If you are unsure about fertilizing it is actually better to not fertilizer the tomato plant.

Add A Watering Bottle

Add a Watering Bottle

A simple way to easily water your tomato plants is by adding a watering bottle. The watering bottle will reduce the need for overhead watering, thus reducing the chances for certain diseases. The watering bottle gives the plant water where it needs it most – the roots.

Use Compost Tea

Water With Compost Tea

Compost tea is an absolute must for healthy, vibrant and productive tomato plants in my book. Give the tomato a nice drink of compost tea at least once a week. This is the one time I will say to use overhead watering. By watering the entire plant with compost tea, it can drastically reduce the chances of insect pests and diseases.

Using these nine tips on caring for tomatoes will ensure you have great looking and fantastic tasting tomatoes through the whole summer.

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Comments

  1. Ellen Peavey says:

    My tomatoes that I started inside are very tall and leggy. What can I do?

    • Usually when seedlings get tall and leggy it is because of insufficient light. You can set them outside a few hours during the day if it’s warm enough.

      If it’s not warm enough yet, then you should place them directly under a fluorescent light. The light needs to be just a couple inches above the top of the tomatoes.

      You can also brush the palm of your hand gently across the top of them several times a day. This will help strengthen the stems.

  2. Ellen Peavey says:

    How do I make the water bottle for the tomatoes?

  3. I transplanted several toms about 12 inches high that i had in the house..
    WATERED THEM REALLY WELL. AND WATCHED THEM CLOSELY.FOR 2 DAYS NOW THEY ARE SLOWLY DYING AND HAVE BEEN WATERED WELL.MY NEIGHBOR SAYS HERS ARE DOING THE SAME THING,I HAVE GROWN TOMS FOR YEARS AND NEVER SEE ANY THAT WILT AND STAY THAT WAY.PLEASE HELP..THANKS AUDREY

    • I think that your plants got too much water & were probably shocked during the transplanting..You can drown the plants… Also, when did you do the transplanting …during the day or just before dark?… Never transplant during the day & especially if the hot sun was on them…I always do this after the sun goes down…

  4. sandy mcfadden says:

    Hi I have tomatoe plants this 27th nday of november with lots andlots of tomat oes. I have been covering them with a solar blanket. This next week will be in the 20′s every night. I don’t think my blanket will ward that off. Can they be transplanted now and brought inside. They are large and have many tomatoes. I know about picking green and layering with newspaper but ther are too many for that.

  5. Brian Penso says:

    i keep having flowers / stems yellow and fall off tom plants no chewing is viable or damage but many fall off ant help would be great thank you

  6. My tomatoes did great and continued to produce even during extremely hot weather. However, now the vines look like they’re dying and they’re no longer blooming. They have yielded several bushels of tomatoes thus far. Once they reach this point is it the end of the road for them?

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