My green tomatoes aren't growing

willi348July 13, 2014


I have 4 container tomato plants. They are planted in a box that is 8 feet wide by 16 inches high although the 4 plants are relatively close to each other in the box. I fertilized them when they were transplanted and then added tomato fertilizer sticks once they bore fruit. I believe that I may have been overwatering them based on some bad advice from a friend :) I only water them now when the soil is dry 2 inches down but that still seems to be about every morning unless mother nature has intervened.

The first fruit that I saw is now 1.5 or so inches big but hasn't gotten any bigger in weeks. The plants continue to produce tiny tomatoes but nothing is happening as far as growing the first/largest tomatoes. Help? :)

I searched this forum and think they may be root bound but they are in a fairly large container. Should I spread them out? Do they need their own individual containers? Before moving them around I would love some advice. TIA!

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

What varieties are they? That is what determines the size of the fruit, it's variety genetics. So they may already be full size and just waiting to ripen. That takes about 6 weeks.

Beyond that then plants grown in containers normally produce smaller fruit than when grown in ground. And plants grown in overcrowded conditions do the same.

Plus plants in containers require regular feeding - like weekly - and liquids work much better than any granular or fertilizer sticks will. Lots to learn about how to grow them in containers as it is a totally different method.

Your container is 8 feet wide by what? What is its length?


    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 4:28PM
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Thank you! I'm so sorry, I requested an e-mail when I received a response and it didn't show up.

It's pretty easy to overload with information on the internet. I will start fertilizing regularly with a liquid. Is there one that you recommend?

The container is 4 feet by 8 feet but the four plants are sharing about 2/3 of that space. I could easily give them more space but am afraid that their roots might be interwoven and I would damage them by trying to pull them apart.

They are a Baby Boomer Hybrid meant for container growing. they may have reached their full size, then, and just aren't ripening. I'm very new to this although you probably already know that :) What can I do to encourage the fruit to ripen?

Thank you very much!!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 3:36PM
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According to the write-up these are 1" red cherry tomatoes which only reach a height of 25" max. They are an early variety, (Days to maturity around 50, from when you planted them).

So. Your tomatoes won't get any bigger, but they should turn red, once they reach 1" in size. I think you will just have to be patient, and none of us is very patient when it comes to waiting for our tomatoes to ripen (LOL).


    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 3:54PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Just as the variety genetics determine the size they also determine when the fruit ripens. There really isn't anything you can do to force it to speed up. Patience is required.

Baby Boomer is a determinate cherry variety so the size they are is what you get (approx. 1" in diameter and weighing approx. 1 oz. each). It is a average of 6 weeks between fruit set and ripening though when over-crowded like this it may take a bit longer. Next year consider better spacing. try for 2' between plants.

As for liquid fertilizer, there are literally 100s of them. Everything from Miracle Grow to one of the fish and kelp blends. It is your choice depending on what is available to you locally.



    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 4:01PM
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Thank you! I will pick up some fertilizer tonight. They have reached the 1" size and have been holding for ~3 weeks. It's great to know that 6 weeks or even more is usual.

I have NO patience :) Basil has been it for me in the past and it offers such a quick and ample reward. This will be a great lesson.

Thanks again for the help!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:47PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

The container is 4 feet by 8 feet but the four plants are sharing about 2/3 of that space.

And you've also mentioned the container is 16" deep.
OK. Lets do a simple math. And just say that the soil depth in the container is ONE foot. So the container has 32 cu-ft of soil ( 4ft x 8ft x 1ft =32 ft^3).

Four plants are sharing 2/3 of it :

((32)* 2/ 3)/4 = 5.33 cu-ft per plant
5.3 x 6.4 = 34 gallons of soil per plant.
effectively that is equivalent of planting one plant in a 28in by 28in square area in the ground.


So you should not worry about root bounding and perhaps you can get by much less watering that you are doing now.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:49AM
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Thank you Seysonn! I've been very concerned about overcrowding them :)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:24PM
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I've grown tomatoes in containers and found that they are much smaller than if grown in the ground. I suspect there is a limited root system in the pots. With that being said, the tomatoes still tasted very good, they were just small. If you didn't break the rootball when transplanting them into the larger pot, you might want to take a yard stick (or something of similar size) and poke into the soil to help the roots expand.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:20AM
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Thanks everyone! Patience was key and I really didn't have to be patient for long. Some of them are starting to turn red. I appreciate all of the help!

I didn't break the root ball when transplanting, thanks for the advice. I would have been afraid to do something like that without help :)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 5:54PM
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