vizzin72
Full Member
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:39 am

how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

Hey all,

So I have some tomatoes growing in an indoor box see picture. Problem is I cannot plant these guys out for about another 4 weeks and they are growing and expanding almost an inch a day it seems, they are almost hitting my lights and I cannot raid the light any higher. What do I do? I had this problem with my peppers and I moved them to a window. can I move the tomatoes to the window too or is there any way to top these tomatoes? they are extremely healthy and the main stem is probably the thickness of a sharp pen.

thanks,

Nate
Attachments
IMG_0968.JPG

bri80
Senior Member
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:12 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

The best thing you can do is better timing for your climate for when you want to put tomatoes outdoors...? But they look strong, although desperately needing repotting. Peppers handle early/cold/lack of light conditions even worse than tomatoes, so if your peppers are doing well in the window then your tomatoes definitely will. But don't top them, no way. Get them in larger pots, figure out how to raise your lights more/put them in natural light, plan better next time if they're growing too fast for outdoor conditions would be my advice.

If you want to get a head-start on putting them outdoors, these are useful and allow me in my climate to put tomatoes/peppers outdoors about a month earlier than would otherwise be possible:
https://www.wall-o-water.com/

vizzin72
Full Member
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:39 am

Re: how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

thank you ... yes I am going to repot them any day... believe it or not the roots are not really circling the bottom of the cup yet not like my peppers did. I suppose I will pot them up and stick them in the window.... the peppers are doing just fine even with overcast days. I actually had a thread out just like this one for when I inquired about putting the papers in the window but these tomatoes just seem like different for some reason like as if they are going to become leggy. ultimately I think you are right I think I am going to have to plant the seeds mid march instead of march first like I did this year .... weather here in jersey is so crazy sometimes in may out of nowhere you will get a day that goes down in to the 40's its not until like mid may that you can be sure at night it won't go down that far.

bri80
Senior Member
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:12 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

Hmm, interesting. Tomatoes stunt if night time temps drop below 40 degrees. If your night lows are reliably higher than that, you can start to harden them off outdoors. If temps might drop below that, I'd recommend the wall-o-water cloches as they will keep the temps around the plants 5-10 degrees warmer at night.

Honesty though, if your growth up top is that intense and they're not looking pot-bound, I'd be suspicious. Were they fed a high nitrogen fertilizer? They don't look "leggy" like you're worried about in the sense of not getting enough light and stretching, but I see what you mean if they're not producing roots to counter-weight those tops.

If that's the case my guess would be too much nitrogen.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27802
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

It helps to keep from growing too tall if you provide sufficient light, and from growing too fast if you put them where night time temp is in the 50's and daytime temp is in the 60's. I also feed just enough and no more. Sometimes, too lean and I have to actively fertilize, but mostly very dilute nutrient solution is all.

If you don't mind uppotting them several times, only bumping up to less than swimming containers (maybe only twice the volume) will constrain their growth a bit -- you'll see obvious differences when you try uppotting nearly identical seedlings of same variety into different sized containers.

...bri80's assessment sounds about right.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

wisconsindead
Senior Member
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:48 pm
Location: Zone 5b

Re: how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

Yea I think the goal is to get your timing down. I started mine about a month too early last year. My tomatoes are just sprouting now and I will plant the last weekend of May. But your plants look really healthy and large for being in such small pots.

User avatar
ElizabethB
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2109
Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:53 am
Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

Your plants do look very nice. In addition to the previous advice remember that tomatoes do very well planted deep.

Snip off all of the lower growth and plant about half in the ground.

My Brother started heirloom tomatoes for me. He put his in the ground a month ago. I did not get mine from him because my raised boxes were not ready.

Anyway - picked them up Friday, They were planted in small cups and were VERY leggy. They had also used all of the nutrients in the small containers. I could not dig deep enough to plant them 1/2 in the soil so I planted them sideways adding soil under the stem to gently move the upper portion to an upright position.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

vizzin72
Full Member
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:39 am

Re: how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

thanks for all the replies everyone ... sorry I just got done moving ... so they are still in the cups I haven't had time to pot the up .... I ended up putting them in a south window (honestly doesn't really get more than prob 4 hours of sun per day .... they are healthier than ever .... I am gonna pot up this weekend though, just haven't had time, BUT my little Padawan gardener is here to help this weekend so it will happen. I don't think, in response to my own original thread, that the way they were growing was bad I think I just simply designed my box wrong .... it is perfect for peppers, not very good for tomatoes it just isn't tall enough or broad enough.

as you can see in the picture
IMG_0989.JPG
these peppers are exactly as old as my tomatoes and have PLENTY of room in all directions including vertical. I think I just need to re-think re-design accordingly.

Taiji
Greener Thumb
Posts: 886
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:19 am
Location: back to cental az for now, elevation 5141, lat 34.57

Re: how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

I seem to consistently start my peppers and especially tomatoes too early. I think it's because I'm afraid something will go wrong and I'll have to start all over...too late!
This year I disciplined myself to give only about 6 weeks between planting seed and setting out in the garden, so my plants are still quite small. Maybe for peppers a little more time: maybe about 8 weeks.
Your plants look great though.

xtgold
Cool Member
Posts: 76
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:29 am
Location: CT USA Zone 6b

Re: how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

better safe than sorry.
I always start seeds early in case they don't germinate.
That gives you time to buy new seeds and start over.

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1549
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: how to keep seedlings from getting too tall

A problem that I have had with my early peppers these last two seasons is the very mild winters. This makes mine grow faster because my house does not cool off with the setback on the thermostat, either while I'm at work or asleep. This year I started them 2 weeks later, after what happened last year, and it was even warmer! I'm moving them to the basement today, as it is cooler there. I start most of my peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants on 4-1, in 32 pots/tray, and even then, some things are close to too large, w/o a repot, by the time they go out. But I always start chinense peppers early - 2-22 this year - as they are the slowest sprouters and growers, at least at first. I also have one eggplant with those 9 early peppers, which I started on 3-8, and it is as large as all of the peppers! These will need repotting, and I am planning on putting them out in SIPs, under wall of waters, and I just put the SIPs in their places, to let the sun heat them up.

And next season I will start them even later, unless it is a wickedly cold winter!
Dave

Return to “TOMATO FORUM”