Two tomato plants damaged by freeze

anney(Georgia 8)March 26, 2008

Three nights ago when night temps were forecast to be 35, the temperature dropped to 27. I covered my three tomato plants with styrofoam cups, and one of the plants, Celebrity, came through just fine. My two New Big Dwarfs were damaged, and I'm wondering how long I should wait before concluding that they won't produce new growth?

All the leaves are limp and dark now, including those at the very top.

So the question is, if all the leaves were destroyed but the stems are still healthy, (upright, sturdy & flexible) are they likely to grow new leaves? Or should I put them out of their misery? Never had this happen before.

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I does sound like you lost them. However, I'd wait until the weekend to see if they are showing any new growth.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Same thing happened to me anney..just pinch off all the dead leaves and tips of the stems that are damaged. Just treat them as you would your healthy plants and they will start growing new stems and leaves in 2 weeks or less. Let me search my recent photos and I'll show you a before and after.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 9:25PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


Wow! You're saying they survived, even with dark limp leaves? I certainly WILL give mine some time then.

If the stems were limp, I think I would have given up on them right away. But I do know that tomatoes can take a lot of mistreatment, so I was hoping... I've sure given them lots of care, and they were well hardened off, at least for wind and sun.

And yes, I'd like to see your B&A photos.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 9:35PM
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timmy1(6a ri)

About 10 years ago, I had 1000 large tomato plants out early may. This particular year, it started off hot around here. They took off and were blooming like crazy.

Later that month, we were walloped with a 25* night. I struggled all night covering.

It was the strangest thing to see one plant get hit, the next two plants were fine, the next one was dead etc.

Ended up totally loosing 150 or so, 150 were burnt but came back but late. The rest were fine.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 10:10PM
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heres 2 separate plants...both got badly nipped..the first is the Cherokee Purple..stripped of all it's leaves and left as a green stem and limbs..the second is the Black Krim..was stripped the same way, but you can see the new growth roughly 1 1/2 weeks later. It's going to get a slower start but that just means more maters later than the others..

cherokee purple stripped..

black krim 1 1/2 weeks growth..
Have patience...they will recover.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 10:12PM
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anney(Georgia 8)

Two good news posts!


    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 11:30PM
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Hold out anney..they will recover..look forward to late maters,,awesome plants aren't they?
Hardy boogers..
My pecan trees down here have started to bloom..woohoo,,freeze is over,,

Happy gardening..

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 12:34AM
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So, I don't quite get how your plants can get that cold and live. Why do I always hear how important it is that they not go below 50 degrees, and yet you guys are leaving transplants out in freezing weather? I'm confused. Shouldn't that kind of temperature stunt them for all eternity?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 9:32AM
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anney(Georgia 8)


Leaving them out in freezing weather is not an intentional thing, of course. Sometimes you have unexpected temperature drops, as I did, after many days and nights, sometimes weeks, of balmy weather. All you can do in that case is cover them and hope they survive. I'll see if mine begin putting out new growth in the next two weeks, keeping my fingers crossed. I'm sure they were shocked by their ordeal. Tomato plants are very hardy in many ways. I just hope their exposure to freezing temps is one of them. Have to see.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 10:04AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Tomato plants are very hardy in many ways. I just hope their exposure to freezing temps is one of them. Have to see.


There's a difference between a frost and a freeze, and I'm not going to go into all the variables that distinguish those two.

Up here in the subtundra we're accustomed to dealing with frost and freezes at both ends of the growing season.

Different varieties can have different tolerances to freezes and those same varieties maybe won't have the same tolerances the next year.

What it boils down to is the nature of the cell fluids within each cell and how probable it is that ice xstals will form. When they form and stay around for several hours then the cells are totally destroyed and no way back.

I never take off damaged leaves from the plants b'c I want healing to occur at the juncture with the main stem such that no open wounds are exposed. The damaged leaves fall off naturally.

Not about freeze, but I've had plants that were stripped of all foliage by Colorado Potato Beetles and usually they come back as well. The problem is that the plant can go just so far in terms of healing itself, and then if there's no photosynthesis to create energy compounds, as in no leaves, it can't go any further.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 11:21AM
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timmy1(6a ri)

I've never read it anywhere but I noticed plants that are not hardened enough will suffer from it worse.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 2:24PM
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I agree leaves no photosynthesis. I reckon my pics weren't enough..I have had and still have plants that are recovering...from a freeze..all leaves burnt off. pinched all the crispy leaves off and left the stem...given a good root system the plants started new stems..granted they started as what what we call suckers..but they they did start new life.
they are stunted but still have a place in my wife's garden....I would choose just to by another plant..but she's the life saver.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 12:15AM
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Well, my own tiny and rather leggy seedlings are out on my unheated enclosed porch right this minute and it has got to be in the 40s there. Sometimes it goes lower, but plastic covering over the growing rack keeps any air chill off of them and a bare lightbulb in the base of the rack overnight adds a degree or two of warmth. They definitely go down into the 30s at times, though, I am sure of it, so tomato plants can take low temperatures, but not hard prolonged killing frost in the open air. I have not seen this type of temperature exposure to have any effect on the plant's seasonal growth. Mine brave the chill every Spring.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 12:21AM
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so it was May 1 and we dipped to 32 degrees last nite. I have 10 plants out and they all look damaged. so I just play wait and see now??? should I water them?? give them manure tea...... I dont want them to die, they are purchased plants and cost me a little bit of change!!! Tks Kathy

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 2:21PM
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