Last Updated on October 28, 2022 by Cinthia
Are you worried about your tomato seedlings falling over or bending, a condition common to both young and older tomato plants? If yes, you are not alone. This is a common problem that most gardeners experience when growing tomatoes seedlings.
It would be nice to know why your tomato plant seedlings are falling over so you can sort the problem and get them back to growing correctly.
In this article, we will take a closer look at things that make your tomato plants fall over. We will also discuss how to solve this problem.
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There are several reasons why your tomato plants could be falling over. This depends on the age of the plant and the environment it is growing in.
Tomato seedlings – Damping-Off
The most likely cause of young seedlings falling over is the lack of light or damping-off caused by a fungus attack.
Damping-off is a plant disease known to weaken or kill seedlings. It is caused by a fungus commonly found in wet and cool soil.
To tell if your tomatoes are damping off, look out for these symptoms
- Spotted leaves
- Rotten roots
- Thin, tough, and wiry stems
- Grey mould on stems or leaves
How To Prevent Damping-Off Of Tomato Seedlings
Here are some steps to follow to prevent damping off
- Keep your Soil Warm and Moist. Damping-off happens in cold soil. Cold and dry soil also delays your seedlings’ germination while slowing down their growth. The faster your tomato plants grow, the sooner they get strong enough to resist damping off. So to avoid this fungal infection, keep your soil warm and moist that encourages faster germination.
- Sterilize your Soil before Planting. Don’t reuse garden soil or potting mix because they may carry soil-borne diseases from previous use. Instead, buy a clean, fresh potting mix or sterilize your garden soil to start your tomato seeds.
- Quarantine your Plants. If you notice any seedling starting to look sick, pull it out and separate it from the other seedlings. This will control the spread of this disease between your plants.
Tomato Seedlings – Lack Of Enough Light Effects
Your seedlings might not show any signs of damping-off but still suffer from falling over. In this case, lack of enough light could be the reason why they are falling over.
If the light reaching your seedling is in one direction, your seedlings are bound to lean over in an attempt to get the light. This can give them a bent-over appearance, making them like the seedlings are falling over.
If you grow your seedlings in an area where they don’t receive enough light, they will start getting tall thin, and spindly in search of enough light. Even if you are growing them under a glowing light that is too far above them, they will still grow thin and leggy.
To prevent this from happening to your seedlings, ensure that you provide enough sunlight or use glow lights instead of fluorescent or LED bulbs.
Read more about Grow Light Height Above Plants
For Young Tomato Plants
Small tomato plants ready for transplanting into the garden are most likely to fall over due to transplanting shock or lack of hardening off.
Transplanting shock is expected if you do not take the proper precautions when handling your plants. The severe shock causes your plants to fall over.
What Causes Transplant Shock To Your Plants?
- Root damage. Root damage often happens during transplanting if seedlings grow too close together and their roots get tangled up. It can also occur if you leave your transplant out in the sun with their roots exposed while waiting to be planted.
- Lack of hardening off. If you did not harden off your tomato plants before transplanting, they are likely to go into shock when they are outside. The change of temperature, moisture, and wind can be overwhelming for them to handle all at once.
Check Out Do Tomatoes Like Acidic Soil?
Preventing Transplanting Shock
To prevent transplant shockers will need to be a little more careful transplanting your seedlings outdoors.
When planting tomato seeds, leave them enough space so that their roots do not get entangled. Or use a seed tray with individual cells holding each seed in one cell. Leaving enough space between seeds prevents the roots from getting damaged during the transplant. It also reduces the chances of any disease spreading between your plants.
Harden off your seedlings before introducing them to your outdoors. Start by giving them more exposure to wind, sunlight, and outdoor conditions over time. A greenhouse or a cold frame is one way to give your plants a more straightforward transition outdoors.
Finally, keep your plant’s roots out of the sun when transplanting. Keep them safe in their containers until the very moment you plant them.
Mature Tomato Plants
Tall tomato plants with flowers and fruits are most likely to fall over for lack of support.
- Lack of Support for Tomato Plants. If you notice your mature tomato plants are falling over, it is probably due to a lack of support. When tomato plants grow taller, they get heavy because they produce more vines, leaves, and fruit. Eventually, this extra weight will cause the plant to fall in one direction. Without support, the tomato plant will bend over and grow along the ground. This can infect your plant with soil-borne diseases. To avoid this, get support for your tomato plants as early as possible and possibly prune them.
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How To Keep Your Tomatoes From Falling Over
To keep your tomato plants from falling over, you will need to provide some support. This depends on the variety you grow. Here are ways to support your tomato plants.
Prune your Tomato Vines. As your tomato plants grow they produce many suckers, which develop into large branches with leaves. These branches also produce flowers and fruit, adding extra weight to the plant, making it challenging to manage the plant, harvest the fruit, or support the vine. To avoid this problem, prune your tomato plant in good time. Generally, prune the indeterminate tomato variety and leave the determinate ones alone. You can tell which type of tomatoes you are growing by checking the seed catalog or packet.
Support your Tomatoes. Your tomato plants require support when they grow taller, whether you prune them or not. You can use stake, trellises, or cages to support your plants. There are plenty of ways to support your tomato plants, and the method you use depends on the type you grow.
Why are my tomato seedlings laying down?
They are most likely being affected by a combination of factors. The main one is probably light intensity.
You should make sure that your plants are not receiving too much light at any time of day. This can be due to: The plant's position. It may be close to a window or other source of direct light, which could be damaging the foliage. The amount of light that is reaching the plant through the soil. The height of the plant. The angle of the sun. The size of the pot. A larger pot may block more light than a smaller one. You could also be experiencing an issue with the nutrient levels in your soil. If this is the case, you should add some fertilizer. As you mentioned, your plants have been in direct sunlight for two weeks now. There are two potential problems with this: They need more light. You should move them to a shadier spot. They need less light. You should move them to a brighter spot.
It's also possible that your plants are suffering from a lack of nutrients. Plants can only absorb so much nutrients from their environment. This is why they need to be watered and fed. You could also give them a quick feed of fertilizer.
How do you fix tomato leggy seedlings?
If you have enough space, you can transplant the seedlings to a larger pot, and/or grow them on the ground. If you don't have enough space for them to spread out, they may not grow as tall. Some tomato varieties can grow quite large, but other varieties won't. It's best to experiment to find what works for your variety of tomato. If you don't know much about tomatoes, you may want to look into that first.
What do overwatered tomato seedlings look like?
The most common symptoms of overwatering are: leaves are dry, wilted or yellowed; stems are brown or blackened; and the plant has a weak, floppy appearance. If you notice these symptoms, you should reduce the amount of water your plants receive.
Can tomato seedlings recover from overwatering?
Most tomato plants will not recover from overwatering, though some varieties are more tolerant than others. You may be able to save a plant by draining the soil and leaving it in a shady area. Tomatoes are sensitive to cold, so if the soil gets cold it is possible that the plant will die. If you are concerned about this, then you could place the pot under a blanket to keep the soil warm.
Now you have a better idea of your tomato feeling falling over. You also know the steps to use in fixing the problem or preventing it in the future. This makes your gardening journey easy.