Tips for Tomato Plant Care

June 27, 2015 8:24 pm0 commentsViews: 47
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Hopefully, your tomatoes are planted and they are off to a good start. Here are some practices to consider as spring comes to an end and summer takes over.


• Should you stake and tie up the plants or let them grow on the ground? There are advantages to both systems.  An indeterminate variety needs to be staked and tied. A determinate or bush type variety can be grown either way. If you choose to stake and tie the plants, you should also prune out the lower four or five suckers. The suckers are the shoots that emerge where the leaves are attached to the stem. Try to remove the suckers while they are still small, 2”-3” inches long. Suckering results in larger fruit and earlier fruit, but reduces the overall yield from that plant. Put the stakes in shortly after planting before the root system starts to spread. Tie the plants early and often as they grow. Avoid damaging the stems by tying them too tightly. Use string that is relatively thick so it won’t cut into the stem.

•Tomatoes need a moderate amount of nitrogen, a moderate amount of phosphorus and a large amount of potassium. Potassium is used by the plant to regulate water absorption and is critical to development of a deep red color. If your soil is short on potassium you can add wood ashes, a high potassium fertilizer, manure or compost to get it to a level where it needs to be. The third number on a fertilizer bag label tells you what percentage of that fertilizer is potassium. A soil test will tell you if your soil’s nutrient levels are sufficient.

•Tomatoes need lots of water to reach their potential. Never let the soil get so dry that your plants begin to wilt. The soil moisture should be consistently moist, but not saturated.

• Colorado potato beetles love to feed on tomato, potato, and eggplant leaves. Eggplant is their favorite food. The larvae are now hatching so watch your plants closely. If you catch them early, you can pick off the beetles before much feeding damage occurs.


Reprinted by permission of Penn State Extension & College of Agricultural Sciences.