Can I grow tall plants (as tomatoes) with small roots?

Nearly every vegetable garden has at least one or two tomato plants that bear unforgettable fruits year after year with some help from their gardeners. When plants grow tall and spindly, it’s usually because they don’t get enough sunlight or have nutritional issues. Spindly plants, whether transplants or existing vines, are, fortunately, controllable.


Seed Starting Conditions

  1. Inadequate illumination might result in leggy seedlings. This is a common issue with plants that are started inside. When you start seedlings indoors, place a florescent light within about 6 inches of the tops of the young plants once they have developed two pairs of true leaves, and slowly move the light upward as the seedlings grow.

Planting Spindly Transplants

  1. Despite your best efforts, seedlings sometimes will get spindly, either because of unexpected rapid growth or because some seedlings received less light than others. Plant the leggy seedlings in a trench, carefully bending the ends of the vines upward and leaving approximately 25% of each plant exposed. Tomatoes may develop roots all the way up their stems, therefore this form of planting can result in a stronger root system if the plant is given adequate water and nourishment.


  1. When a tomato plant absorbs too much nitrogen from its surroundings, it begins to develop rapidly, frequently producing a large number of new green leaves as the vines extend. The leaves may be twisted, and blooming is often delayed, resulting in a lesser yield. Excess nitrogen is often sourced from animal manure, which may contain excessive levels of nitrogen before it has fully decomposed.

Spindly Plant Care

  1. Spindly plants cannot be reversed, but they may be made less vulnerable to injury by pinching them back and giving good support. If your plants are spindly, switch to a fertilizer with a much lower first number (indicating nitrogen content) in relation to the other numbers; 5-10-10 is often ideal. Although your yield may be reduced, you may offset some of the consequences of previous over-fertilization.

Related Questions

  • What type of tomato plants grow tall?

    Tomato plants have one of two growth habits: Determinate varieties grow to a certain height (usually 2 to 3 feet), set fruit, and then concentrate on ripening that fruit. Indeterminate cultivars continue to grow higher and taller, setting and ripening fruit until cold kills them.

  • Why are my tomato plants not growing tall?

    Tomatoes need nutrient-rich soil in which to grow. If the soil is devoid of nutrients, the plant will suffer from many problems, including stunted or slowed growth. A sick plant is more prone to attract pests and disease. A stunted plant’s fruit will stay tiny and take longer to mature.

  • Can you top tomato plants if they get too tall?

    If you want your plant to be bushier, remove the top of the plant. This allows the rest of the plant to redirect energy to other areas which enables it to fill out instead of continuing to grow taller. Topped tomato plants will also often produce bigger fruit and more fruit.

  • Why is my tomato plant growing tall but not producing tomatoes?

    If you have a lot of huge blossoms but no tomatoes, it might be because it is too cold and wet or too hot and dry. This causes blossom drop and, as a consequence, makes it far more difficult for plants to produce fruit. Pollination failure – Weather may also play a role in pollination.

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