Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

Tall and Spindly Tomato Seedlings

By:

I start my tomato seeds indoors, with fluorescent grow lights about 24″ above the trays. Every year, the seedlings grow tall and spindly, and they’re very fragile. What should I do? -David

The main reason for tall, spindly tomato seedlings is a lack of light. As the plants strain toward the light, they grow taller, thinner, and more fragile. To help with this, you can:

  • Increase Light: Lower your light fixtures, increase the wattage, or raise your trays to get them closer to the light source.
  • Provide Sunlight: Grow lights are great, but they’re no match for pure sunshine. As soon as the weather allows, move your plants to a spot with plenty of natural sunlight, even if it’s an indoor window.
  • Encourage Branching: Pinch back the tops of your plants as they grow, to encourage them to branch out.
  • Transplant Correctly: When you transplant your seedlings into the garden (or into pots), plant them deeply so that at least half to two-thirds of the stem is buried. Some gardeners bury tomato plants all the way up to the topmost leaf cluster. The spindly stem will sprout roots and become part of a deep, strong root system, and the top part of the plant will quickly grow to make up for it.

Further Information

Julie



Please Leave a Comment

One Comment on “Tall and Spindly Tomato Seedlings”

You can follow comments to this article by subscribing to the RSS news feed with your favorite feed reader.

  1. Cecilia Says:
    April 6th, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Thank you for the sunlight information. I have four shelves of single T12 grow lights, but it is my first experience with growing any seeds indoors at anytime. I untangled my drooping spindly plants and tried loosely tying them up. We live in IA and don’t have a lot of sun, but I have gotten set up with two south windows in order to give them what daily sunlight we have.

    At first I didn’t think I was watering the seeds enough and now I think I am watering them too much. I am watering them from the bottom.

    Do plants like some darkness? OR now that they are spindly should I keep the lights on them day and night? Thank you so much for coming to my rescue. Cecilia

We want to hear from you! In addition to posting comments on articles and videos, you can also send your comments and questions to us on our contact page or at (800) 946-4420. While we can't answer them all, we may use your question on our Today's Homeowner radio or TV show, or online at todayshomeowner.com.