Return to the Growing Tomatoes Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Will my container tomato plants survive?

Posted by turnerm3 none (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 20, 12 at 17:29

Good Evening,

My grandfather passed away last week and I was out of town for 4 days. Due to this, my tomatoes (two celebrity plants in a large container with a cage) missed 3 days of watering. They had previously been thriving on 2 gallons of water daily. It was around 85 degrees each day with full sun. My plants have 20-25 green tomatoes on the vines. When I returned home, the vines had drooped below the cage and were relatively limp. A few of the 1-2" tomatoes had slightly shriveled skin, but the plant itself was still green. The larger 2-3" tomatoes currently look fine. The dirt was completely dry and had pulled away from the container. When I poured 1/2 gallon of water on the soil, it dripped through the vent holes within 30 seconds. If anyone else has had a similar experience, did your plant recover? If so, did you notice problems with the tomatoes later or at harvest? Also, this is my first attempt at growing tomatoes and I would appreciate any advice on nursing my plants back to life. I'm afraid I am overwatering at this point to revive them.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Will my container tomato plants survive?

Hi turnerm,

I am new to growing tomatoes. I am growing some in containers like you. From what I have read tomatoes are fairly strong plants. I do not believe they will die off. As for the shriveled tomatoes you have I think those might fall off. just continue to add water as you have normally done I think they will make it through this. Also my condolence on the passing of your grandfather. My prayers will be with you and your family.

RE: Will my container tomato plants survive?

Like new_b said, keep watering normally. You could move them into shade for a day or two, monitor them and don't over water as that might cause additional problems. Sorry to hear about your grandfather. Good luck with your tomatoes.


RE: Will my container tomato plants survive?

If the pots area size you can lift, set in a deep bucket/tub of water to rehydrate the potting mix. Maximum 20 minutes, or they'll drown

RE: Will my container tomato plants survive?

  • Posted by qaguy Sunset 21/LosAngeles (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 20, 12 at 21:41

The reason the 1/2 gal of water came out the bottom is because
the soil was very dry. It just ran through and not much of
it probably stayed in the soil. It's amazing how little
moisture really dry soil will absorb before it runs through
the pot.

Give the plant a shower. Just a short one. The plant will
take in water that way. I've revived dry plants just doing

Just keep adding water a little at a time. Give it a chance
to rehydrate that soil. Stick your finger down into the
soil. You'll be able to judge how much moisture your soil
has absorbed.

You'll only drown your plant if you let it sit in a pan of
water a long time, like a day or so. Give it an hour or
two at least.

RE: Will my container tomato plants survive?

If the container mix contains peat moss, it will take time to re-wet the mix, as dry peat moss literally repels water. It will help to set the container in a larger pan of water for 30 minutes. Keep at it until all the mix is moist -- you don't want a dry spot in the middle of the root ball.

Keeping the plant out of strong sunlight (mid-day to early evening) for a few days will reduce the stress it's under.

RE: Will my container tomato plants survive?

I had the same thing happen when we were out of town for Memorial Day (about 4 days) and my timer malfunctioned. This is also my first year growing in containers so I had no idea what to expect. All my plants (squash, green beans, tomatoes, peppers) look as if the grim reaper was escorting them to the door. I considered throwing in the towel but my wife urged me to give it a shot. Much to my amazement, everything bounced back. I did lose quite a few blooms and very small tomatoes but I didn't lose the entire plant. I imagine you will have pretty bad radial cracking as the fruit matures (I did) but it still tastes great.

RE: Will my container tomato plants survive?

  • Posted by bets z6A ID (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 21, 12 at 13:38


Sorry to hear of your loss.

As for your tomatoes, if the pots are difficult to move, you can rehydrate the growing medium by a slow steady application of water. Drip irrigation is a great way to do this. If you don't have a drip system set up, you can emulate it by taking a gallon milk jug or similar container, or even a couple of 2 liter bottles and poking a very small hole in the bottom then set them in the container on the growing medium and fill them with water. It will trickle out the hole in the bottom slowly and have time to be absorbed.

I hope that helps.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Growing Tomatoes Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here