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tn_veggie_gardner
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Negative effects of leggy tomato plants

Ths subject seems to be a constant one for me. No matter how many lights I buy, how much sunlight my plants get, what direction the windows face that they grow in, etc., I still have a handful of people out there saying my tomato seedlings are very leggy. In my experience, the past few years, this windowsill method has had some great results. The tomato seedlings, out of peat pellets or whatever, start out quite leggy, then as they get potted up into the 16 oz plastic cups, they become less so & start to grow outwards more than upwards. Then, finally, when I put them in their final homes of container outdoors & bury them a few inches or so deeper than before, they grow fine & produce fine. So, I guess I don't see what the big deal is.

Please let me know what negative effects you have had with supposed "leggy" tomato plants(and other veggies like peppers, herbs, etc.). Like I said, my plants do perfectly fine, so I don't see what the big deal is. =) Enlighten me...

- Steve

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Ozark Lady
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Have you ever noticed?
Some one will have something negative to say, no matter what you do...

You can please some of the people all of the time, and you can please all of the people some of the time... You can not please all of the people, all of the time... If you try, you will only spin in circles...

I was transplanting a leggy tobacco plant last year, and I messed up, broke the stem, not all the way, just part of the way through. So I buried the broken part and just hoped it would live.
It lived, and made two plants, one before the break and one after. This did lead to both plants being smaller.

But, was it the plant being leggy, or my mistake? Both I say!

Actually, with not enough light, I get little short plants... contrary to the reports that lack of light leads to them getting leggy and reaching.
So, when mine start getting top heavy due to being leggy, I give them less light... totally contrary to all I can find... But, it works for me...
I just want the stems to thicken some, to decrease my chance of breaking it during transplant... Not everyone is clutz like I am...
I also use a fan to strengthen the stems and help me out some.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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applestar
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What you don't want is a leggy and, therefore, weak stemmed plant. That part of the stem between the roots and the seed leaves (hypocotyl) often doesn't fatten up as the rest of the plant grows bigger and heavier, and, unable to support its own weight, fall down. Tomatoes are easier in that sense because the fix is to bury the hypocotyl as well as any part of the lower stem and let more root grow, and adjust the growing conditions as necessary. (more light, less fert, more air movement, lower temperature, etc.)

If the seedlings are grown in a fairly cold surrounding air temperature, where the only source of heat is the light (like me in my garage) moving the seedlings away from the light slows down their growth and cause them to develop stockier, sturdier stem/growth. Because the growth is slowed down, it would required less light, and so on.

I think we typically mention light exposure first because it so often IS the source of the problem for most first timers. I've seen some sorry looking tomato and other seedling photos here, and I haven't been a member all that long.

This forum is great because everybody has their own experiences to share, and the collective wisdom percolates into new insights.

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tn_veggie_gardner
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Thank you both for your replies. It just shows that almost all people's growing situations & conditions are different and therefore usually require different measures to produce intended results. I get very upset at times when my tomato plants are called "leggy" or "very leggy" when I think they are just fine. I do as applestar kind of mentions, burying them as deep as the cotyledons (most of the time, somewhat deeper) when they are transplanted to their final homes/containers outdoors. I almost always have very healthy plants that produce very well.

- Steve

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Ozark Lady
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Apple you explained that so well, thank you!

All I knew was moving them farther from the light, often solved my thin stems and heavy tops issue.

The thing is: It is easier to react immediately, than to try to fix a leggy plant...

I partially fill the pots, then top them up as the plant grows, I watch and if stems are out of proportion, then I try different things, until I find one that works... Seems that air flow is the best answer for me, and moving the light or plant. I do turn the tray of plants regularly to help insure more even growth, seems those stems also thicken when they lean left today and right tomorrow... exercise!

If your stems seem sturdy enough to you... then just ignore leggy comments. I get more... that is a squat plant comment...

Or, it is how old and it is so little! Mine are... 4 times that size... are you sure about the dates on them...

Oh and that is not on this forum, I haven't posted seedling photos here.

But, I did request that my camera start showing up at home at least half of the week! Nothing to show right now, but styrofoam cups with dirt in them and names written on them... pretty boring..

Hey, maybe your plants aren't leggy, it is the angle of the photo... You know sometimes the photos don't give the true and exact picture, unless you are a great photographer like some on this site... Makes me nervous to put in any photos... (Joking!)
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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tn_veggie_gardner
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Hahaha...very true, Ozark! =) I take most of my plant pictures with not so good lighting on a 2.0 mp camera phone. Certainly very far from excellent pictures. ;-) I notice that when my wife takes the pictures with her fancy photographer camera that I get no negative comments. lol. You have a great method about partially filling the pots, then topping off as needed. I do that sometimes, but usually pot the plants up at least 2 times during the year. So, that's when I normally bury them deeper & take care of the so-called legginess.

- Steve

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seagullplayer
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We did not have the money to buy many garden plants when I lived at home so my mother started almost everything inside herself. We often had “leggyâ€
Moved on.

Best of luck to all.

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tn_veggie_gardner
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good advice seagull! =) About not showing progress & only showing final product. I like it! lol.

RyanDe680
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Do you guys know of any way to "prevent" tomatoes from becoming leggy?

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Ozark Lady
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Legginess in tomatoes is not always a bad thing.

Sure, too much of any thing can be too much.

But, you bury the tomatoes deeper at each transplant, and it builds stronger roots.

In hot climates, that strong root system is the difference in survival or death.

I know, not the answer that you wanted... But, don't panic if they are a bit leggy.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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Jbest
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Re: Negative effects of leggy tomato plants

tn_veggie_gardner wrote:Ths subject seems to be a constant one for me. No matter how many lights I buy, how much sunlight my plants get, what direction the windows face that they grow in, etc., I still have a handful of people out there saying my tomato seedlings are very leggy. In my experience, the past few years, this windowsill method has had some great results. The tomato seedlings, out of peat pellets or whatever, start out quite leggy, then as they get potted up into the 16 oz plastic cups, they become less so & start to grow outwards more than upwards. Then, finally, when I put them in their final homes of container outdoors & bury them a few inches or so deeper than before, they grow fine & produce fine. So, I guess I don't see what the big deal is.

Please let me know what negative effects you have had with supposed "leggy" tomato plants(and other veggies like peppers, herbs, etc.). Like I said, my plants do perfectly fine, so I don't see what the big deal is. =) Enlighten me...

- Steve
Determinate toms are more compact and thicker stems where as the indeterminate toms have thinner stems and want to vine toward the sun. But any thin stemmed plant has to be handled with care and protected from the wind. John
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but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting,
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tedln
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Steve,

I've always tried to induce legginess in my tomato plants. I even purposely buy the tallest, thinnest, most ugly plants from garden centers.

I plant my tomatoes as deep as possible (preferably 10" to 12"). A very leggy plant works well because I need to strip fewer leaves from the main stem before planting. The entire buried stem then produces roots resulting in a very healthy, vigorous plant.

That is one of the fun things about gardening. You get to try out all kinds of things and then use the techniques that work best for you.

The next time someone tells you your plants are kinda leggy, just say thank you for noticing.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

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tn_veggie_gardner
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Ted: Good one, i'll do that! =) I agree with what most have said here, in that legginess doesn't matter much at all because I do what y'all do & bury the stem a good bit when potting up. Thanks for the input, everyone.

- Steve

tedln
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Hey Steve,

Did you ever finish that hyponex test?

:shock:

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

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tn_veggie_gardner
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Why yes I did. I didn't specify a lot about my control plant, but I did have one, like many were wondering...lol. I posted the results on my blog. I don't remember if blog linking is allowed on here, so if you want to see them, please check link in my signature for blog & go to last post of September last year.

Basically, the results were, that with the same fertilization, watering plan, size container, etc., the Hyponex soil produced a very poor plant compared to MG Potting mix. I did get about 10 total Jalapeno's off it though...lol. =)

- Steve

garden5
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I've often wondered if you get better results from stocky plants that planted at the usual depth, or leggy ones that are planted deep. This would be a cool experiment to try.
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jmoore
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Hey ted. I'm going to try this technique. I've got some scrawny, leggy tomatos started in the kitchen. They seem to have stalled the last few weeks. They are only about 2-3" tall. Hopefully they are putting down roots instead of growing leaves and they look very fragile. I put them outside when it's sunny and warm and they seem to perk up a bit. I'll have to plant them as deep as I can and hope they take.

I figure if they just never take off, I can buy some already started from Home Depot and put them in. I'll look for the leggy ones and bury them deep. I could use a decent tomato crop after last years less than stellar harvest.
tedln wrote:Steve,

I've always tried to induce legginess in my tomato plants. I even purposely buy the tallest, thinnest, most ugly plants from garden centers.

I plant my tomatoes as deep as possible (preferably 10" to 12"). A very leggy plant works well because I need to strip fewer leaves from the main stem before planting. The entire buried stem then produces roots resulting in a very healthy, vigorous plant.

That is one of the fun things about gardening. You get to try out all kinds of things and then use the techniques that work best for you.

The next time someone tells you your plants are kinda leggy, just say thank you for noticing.

Ted

tedln
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Hi jmoore.

It works for me. I usually stick them so deep in the ground only the top true leaves are sticking up maybe an inch. This also makes it helpful if a late frost is predicted overnight. If they still are short in stature, it is easier to throw a layer of Oak leaves over them for protection. The next morning, if danger of frost is past, I can blow the leaves away with a yard blower without damaging the plants.

All gardeners have little tricks or practices which work for them. It should never mean it will work for everyone.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!



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