How do you know if you need to replace a tomato plant?

sammy zone 7 TulsaMay 5, 2013

We have so many tomato links that I decided to make mine very specific.

I have uncovered all 14 plants. The towels I used bent some leaves, but the plants look ok. However, I do not know what to look for that is a warning that the tomato will not produce good fruit.

Mine have not passed the flower stage. Should I remove the flowers? I know bad leaves can be removed, but wonder what could be there that I do not know of as a warning. I do have extra plants that I did not put in the pots that I could use as replacements.

14 plants seem to be enough, but I do have more pots standing by. I just wonder if I need to replace any.

Sorry if my question is absolutely stupid, but I was not at all prepared for this weather ----- and today is a sloppy nasty day. I thought it would be nicer out, but it isn't.

I am talking about Tulsa, specifically.


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Hi Sammy

It really isn't any nicer in OKC. :(

I wish it was nice everywhere by now.

As far as I know, you don't need to replace a tomato plant, unless it was broken off at ground level... and isn't coming back up. At least, that is how I handle it.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 11:43AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

That sounds good. At the end of the summer, I will be pleased to have the extra ones for more and more sauce.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 12:14PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I agree with Moni. I never remove a plant unless it is critically ill with a disease that might spread to nearby plants.

There is no need to remove any flowers unless the flowers are on very small plants and you are worried the plants are too small to support the developing fruit. For the record, I never ever remove flowers because it can get so hot so early here that fruit set is impeded. Thus, every fruit that forms in advance of the arrival of the intense summer heat is precious to me. 2011 is a great example of a year when the heat arrived very early and hurt the overall tomato yield. The only fruit that I got that summer were the ones that had formed in May. By June it was too hot for additional fruit to set.

There are no stupid questions either.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Dawn, would you say that a beefsteak plant that is only about 8-10 inches tall should have blooms removed? I have 2 that are forming buds and they arent even in the ground yet. Im worried the plant wont have time to grow large enough to support a large fruit.

I did leave the blooms on my 2 cherries, and i have small fruit on one of the plants. They arent very tall, but they have beefy stalks. In favt, one is called a Husky Red Cherry. Im not worried about those at all.

Its those beefsteaks that have me concerned. Im tempted to leave them to see what happens, in fear that with the wild weather, I wont even get any fruit this year, on the other hand i dont want to wake up one day to a broken main stem...

Pinch them off or leave them???????

P.S. Carol, Happy Belated Birthday!!!


    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 8:43AM
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The only time I can remember removing blooms was in the fall when I knew there was not enough time form them to develop, and only a few times have I done that.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 9:02AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Emma, Since the plants are fairly small and beefsteak tomatoes are so big, I do think I'd remove those first couple of blossoms. I'd be concerned that the development of the fruit this early on such a small plant might keep the plant too small for a long time. Since May is expected to remain cooler than average, I feel like your beefsteaks would have adequate time to bloom and set more fruit before the heat arrives.

If you want to give in to temptation and leave the blossoms on the plants, just put a stake in the ground next to the plant and attach the plant to the stake. The stake will hold the plant upright and should prevent the main stem from snapping as the fruit enlarges.

I often grow Red Beefsteak as a winter tomato in pots and usually they don't flower until the plant is 12-15" tall. Even at that size, once the energy of the plant is going into fruit production, you can tell the plant remains smaller than other Red Beefsteak plants that haven't set fruit yet. In that sense, the trade off is obvious: if you want earlier fruit, you're giving up some plant size. Generally, though, once the temperatures are consistently warm, the plant that set fruit first will begin catching up in size with bigger plants that set fruit later.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 9:23AM
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You can always pick the fruit later on as green tomatoes if it appears the plant is having difficulty. By leaving the flowers you are leaving yourself options to go either way depending upon how the plant is developing. At least you will have green tomatoes to eat or put in the freezer. We cut up green tomatoes and put them in freezer bags. Later on you just shake out the amount you need for cooking and put the rest back into the freezer. They are great in stir fry.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 9:53AM
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