Why Are My Tomato Plants Growing So Slow?

Tomatoes are relatively easy to grow, but they still have some requirements. If their soil, light, or watering needs aren’t met, you’ll have trouble growing healthy plants.

You should keep an eye on your tomato plants to figure out why they aren’t growing. Sometimes you’ll only need to tweak something small about their care to help them grow better. It’s best to start from the bottom up when trying to identify what could be stunting your tomato plant growth. 

Below are some things to do if your tomato plants don’t seem to be growing.

Identify Transplant Shock

If you transplanted tomato seedlings from a nursery pot and notice they aren’t growing, it could be that they have transplant shock. This happens when the soil from one pot is much different than the next, your plant root has been damaged, or your aftercare lacks.

You need to carefully remove your tomato seedlings and gently place them in new soil. Ensure to water them immediately and keep them watered. This will help the roots settle. 

Check The Soil Nutrients

Tomato plants need nutritious soil to grow well. According to Stephanie Suesan Smith, a master gardener from LivingBoosts.com, you can get your soil test in late December and then choose the right tomato fertilizer accordingly. You can check out her work on tomato fertilizer here for more detail. Soil test is probably the most important thing you can do for your tomato plants to grow properly.

If you use potting soil, there’ll only be enough nutrients to support your plants for about three months. You’ll have to use a good tomato fertilizer after that to keep the soil adequate. 

You can use animal manure, store-bought fertilizers, or food scraps. Add these around your plants about 4 weeks after you planted them. This will ensure the fertilizers are in the ground and start acting once the potting soil nutrients run out. 

If you add nutrients every second month, your tomato plants will continue to thrive. You should remember to test the soil pH before adding nutrients to ensure you don’t make it too acidic.

Check The Lighting

Tomatoes need sunlight and warmth. If it’s a little cold, they won’t grow as well. You should place them in a sunny spot or greenhouse, but ensure they don’t scorch. Too much sun isn’t good for them either. 

If your plants aren’t getting enough sun, their leaves will wilt. Move them to a sunnier spot if this happens. If your plants are cold, you’ll have to cover them with frost cloth to prevent damage. An area that’s too sunny can burn your tomato plants, so keep them partially shaded for a few hours per day. 

Check Your Watering Schedule

If your soil drains too fast, your tomato plants could dry out. You should ensure they get enough water each day to stay hydrated. Your plants can stop growing if you don’t water them regularly.

Be careful of giving too much water too. Drowning your tomato plant roots could lead to root rot which could halt growth. 

Check for Proper Soil Drainage

If your soil is loamy or sandy, your tomato plants might be rootbound. The soil could be preventing nutrient flow and absorption. This usually happens when your soil doesn’t drain well,

You can fix this by mixing compost into your soil. Adding pebbles will also help. If your tomatoes are growing in containers, you might need to plant them in a bigger pot. 

Check for Pests

Some insects like gnawing on tomato plant roots, stems, and leaves. This could cause a lot of damage and stunt their growth. You should use a natural or synthetic pesticide on your plants and regularly check for bugs. If you catch them too late, they could destroy your plants entirely. 

Check for Pollination Access

Tomatoes are self-fertile, and making them easily accessible to pollinating insects will ensure they fruit. If your plants are indoors, open a window daily to give insect access. If you notice no visits from insects, you can gently shake your plants to imitate the bug’s work.  

Check for Dead Leaves

You should regularly prune your tomato plants to ensure there are no dead leaves. Damaged leaves will still draw nutrients in an attempt to revive themselves. Mostly, these are beyond saving and waste nutrients that healthier leaves could use. If you prune the dead leaves, there’ll be more nutrients for the healthy leaves. This will ensure your tomato plant grows better and doesn’t stop.

In Conclusion

It can feel horrible when your tomato plants stop growing. Facing this challenge isn’t any fun, but luckily, you can turn the tables. If you monitor your plants and ensure you meet all their needs, you’ll have a beautiful garden filled with red fruits. 

Start by checking the soil, light exposure, and watering schedule. You should add fertilizer if your soil doesn’t have enough nutrients, place your plants in a spot with at least 6 hours of daily sunlight, and ensure the roots stay moist but aren’t drowning. Too much or too little water and sunlight could harm your plants and stunt their growth.

Leave a Comment