Are you worried because some of your tomato plants are falling over? Don’t feel like you are alone. This is a common problem that most gardeners face at one time or another. So why is this happening?
In all likelihood, your tomato plants are falling over because they lack the necessary support. While most people aren’t aware of this fact, in general, tomato plants are a type of vine. Thus, falling over and crawling along the ground is instinctive with them.
There are some exceptions, but for the most part, this holds true. Although the absence of proper support is the most common reason, there could be other reasons as well for your tomato plants falling over. Let’s explore some of them here:
Damping Off Can Cause Your Tomato Plant to Fall Over
This is a problem that affects tomato seedlings causing them to fall over. This disease is brought on by a fungus that debilitates or kills seedlings. It most commonly occurs in soil that is cool and wet. Here are some signs to look for to tell if your tomato seedlings have this condition:
- Spotted leaves
- Stems that are thin and tough
- Rotten roots
- Grey mold on leaves or stems
How to Prevent Damping Off
- Use sterile soil – You shouldn’t reuse garden soil because it could carry soil-borne diseases from preceding years. It’s best instead to buy a clean potting mix and use that to start your seeds.
- Keep soil warm and moist – Damping-off usually happens in cold soil. Also, soil that is cold or dry holds back seedlings from germinating. Keeping the soil warm and moist will encourage fast germination.
- Quarantine plants – In the case where a seedling begins to look sickly, pull it out and separate it from the rest of the seedlings. This will keep the spreading of any disease between plants from happening.
Tomato Plants Can Get Transplant Shock
Have you recently transplanted your tomato plants? If so, then they could be experiencing transplant shock. Some tomato plants take being transplanted very hard and the shock could be so brutal that they fall over. Several things can cause transplant shock:
- Root damage – This frequently takes place during transplanting when seedlings have been allowed to grow too close together and have gotten their roots entangled. In another instance, it can occur if you permit the plants you are in the process of transplanting to remain out in the sun with their roots exposed waiting to be replanted.
- No hardening off – If you didn’t take the time to harden off your tomato plants, then they might be quite shocked when they are placed outside. The sudden change in environment, temperature, wind, etc., can be too much for them at one time.
How to Prevent Transplant Shock
In order to prevent transplant shock, all it takes is a modicum of common sense and a little attention to detail when transplanting your tomatoes from an indoor environment to the outdoors.
The first thing you should make certain to do is to provide your plants with enough space between them so that their roots don’t become tangled to begin with. You could also use a seed tray with separate cells for each seedling.
Not only will this lessen the risk of the roots being harmed during transplant, but it will also lower the risk of disease spreading between the plants.
Furthermore, make it a point to harden off your plants by gradually introducing them to the outdoors. As time passes you can give them more exposure to direct sunlight and other outdoor elements.
Lack Of Support To Your Tomato Plants
The stems of tomato plants are tall, thin, and bendable. So if your plants are falling over and they’ve been transplanted for a while, then you can safely bet it’s because of a lack of support.
As tomato plants grow taller, their foliage increases and gets heavier, and then when they produce fruit the plant gets still heavier and the stem begins to get stressed out from all the pressure.
Finally, this extra weight will cause the plant to fall over. If it’s not given the proper support, the tomato plant will remain permanently bent over and begin to crawl along the ground.
This provides soil-born diseases with the ideal opportunity to infect your plants. If you want to keep this from happening, you will have to support your tomato plants and maybe prune them too.
Regardless of whether or not you prune them, your tomato plants will need support. There are many ways to give support to tomato plants. You can use stakes, cages or trellises to this end. The method of support you choose will depend on the type of tomato plantsyou are growing, meaning how tall they get, etc.
Support Your Tomato Plants With Stakes
These are excellent ways to support tomato plants. They are often used to support the taller varieties, however, you can purchase shorter stakes and use them before the plants get too tall. You can buy stakes made from wood, plastic, or metal.
You should place the stakes into the ground before you attempt to transplant your tomatoes. Just place the stakes right next to the spot you know the plant will go in.
Now you can be sure you won’t harm the roots of the plant you are transplanting by driving in the stakes. This is an especially good idea if you are planning on waiting until the plants get bigger later in the season before tying them to the stakes.
Why is a Fallen Tomato Plant Bad?
It doesn’t matter that at their core they are vines, tomato plants should not grow lying on the ground. Here are some of the reasons why this is a bad thing:
When your tomato plant lays on the soil, it becomes susceptible to all types of soil-borne diseases caused by micro-organisms that live in the ground. This can lead in due course, to many diseases attacking your plants. These could not only outright kill your tomato plants or sicken then so much that they can’t produce fruit, but reduce the size and amount of tomatoes you get too.
Garden insects, those big nuisances will alight on the leaves and stem of your tomato plant. They’ll devour leaves and buds, possibly leaving you with no tomatoes at all, or they’ll enjoy dining on the tomatoes you expected to pick yourself. Either way this is not a good thing.
Tomato plants can grow to be several feet tall. When a plant that size falls over, it abruptly begins overcrowding the plants nearby, preventing them from receiving the amount of sun they need and cuts back on air circulation, which makes a great breeding ground for fungus.