One tomato plant not growing - how to fix?

emileeg(DFW, TX)May 18, 2014

Hey y'all,

I have three tomato plants in a raised garden bed - one is a Celebrity, one is a grafted San Marzano, and one is (I think) a Sweet 100. Soil is Miracle Gro garden soil. The beds are mulched with straw. I don't think the location is ideal because it gets shade in late afternoon, but it still gets a good 6 to maybe 7 or 8 hours of bright morning sun.

We had kind of a slight cold snap about a month ago where the temps got down in the low 40's two nights in a row. The plants had been in ground for maybe a week when that happened. We definitely had some damage from that, and I think the plants' growth was stunted due to the cold, but only two have recovered. The Celebrity and San Marzano are now growing beautifully and I've pruned off the damaged portions of those plants.

The Sweet 100 doesn't seen to have recovered and doesn't seem to be growing. At all. It looks basically the way it did when I bought it. I don't see any damage (the San Marzano had several leaves that were clearly damaged and died from the cold) or any funky coloring - it's bright green, upright, not wilting, no damage... but not growing either!

My husband did get a little overzealous with the watering, and then we had some rain storms a week or so again, but... If the other two are fine, recovering, and growing, shouldn't this one be showing at least a little growth too? I gave my husband a slap on the wrist and told him to leave the watering to me.

Any recommendations or suggestions on what I can do to get this little plant growing again?

Thanks y'all!

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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

You could try giving the Sweet 100 a shot of liquid fertilizer (whatever you like, at recommended doses). That may flip it toward vegetative growth.

(I read a paper recently which said for optimum production we should actually try to balance vegetative and reproductive growth, and not force the plant strongly into one or the other.)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 3:12PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Trying to compare growth patterns between different varieties usually leads you down a wrong road and making decisions we later regret. Their genetics, what triggers their behavior, are often very different. In this case a cherry type vs. a grafted paste vs. a hybrid semi-determinate beefsteak all with differing DTM.

So it could easily take one of those longer than the others to recover from either the weather exposure or from the over-watering (which was likely the real problem).

Plus "seeing growth" is also very subjective. That we don't see it doesn't mean it isn't happening. :) It may be in the roots, it may be in nothing more than an increased size of some of the leaves rather than height.

Bottom line, since the plant appears healthy the lack of growth you can see really means little. Be patient and you may discover that it will soon kick into high speed and leave the others in its dust. :)


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 3:41PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

You have not mentioned WHEN did you plant them out.

1- in cooler weather growth can be very slow.
2- even in normal condition, it can take up to 10 days for the roots to get adjusted and grab the soil. During that period the plant will spent more energy on root expansion. That happens any time there is a transplanting.

As long as the main center is healthy, that should be fine. Lower leaves fading/falling is not critical.

Then, it also depend on the soil. How deep are your beds? Do they have good drainage?. But most probably, you need to be patient. We cannot see difference visually day to day but you can used a yard stick (literally) and check your plants height. they should be growing by about 3/8" every day now.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 4:17PM
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emileeg(DFW, TX)

Dave and seysonn - thank you for the advice! You're right, I probably just need to chill out and be patient... it's just, even when they were all barely growing, the other two still even put out suckers that I had to pinch out, and this one isn't even doing that... but y'all are right... if it ain't broke, don't fix it?

seysonn, I believe I planted them April 20th or 27th - not sure which one, heh. The beds are a foot deep and they have good drainage... excellent drainage! Probably why we accidentally overwatered at the start.

Is there a length of time I should wait around for growth before I consider doing something to help out/that something else is wrong?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 5:24PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

the other two still even put out suckers that I had to pinch out

It will shock many here but I'll let that pass.

Other than patience, like John said you can always try giving it a feeding and see what happens. As to length of time to wait - that all depends on how much it bugs you. It sure isn't worth losing sleep over so if patience or time is limited just pull it up and replace it now.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 5:59PM
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