Tomato Plants Growing Very Slowly

You spend so much time nurturing your plants, treating them like your own children, but despite such care, not much seems to happen to them. Watching your tomato plants stay small or grow too slowly can be very disappointing, especially if you had high expectations when you planted them. The most common reasons for this are too much watering, extreme temperature, poor conditions of the soil, and some varieties of tomato plants taking more time to mature and grow compared to others.

They aren’t getting enough sunlight

Tomatoes are a favorite vegetable people want to raise in their gardens, especially beginners. There are several conditions that you should take into consideration when planting tomatoes. First is adequate sunlight. 

If your plant isn’t getting enough of this, it won’t mature fast as it should. Like most plants, tomatoes require sunlight to grow and thrive. Most tomato varieties require a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight every day although 8 or more hours will yield better results in terms of the fruits it bears.

Plants absorb sunlight, then convert it to the energy they need to bear fruit. This is generally true for all fruit-bearing plants too. Tomato plants require sunlight like we need a cup of tea or coffee each morning to complete our activities and tasks for the day. 

The more sunlight your tomato plants have, the more productive and faster they will grow. But when it comes to this plant, they really don’t need that much sunlight for their fruits to ripen. Always check if your tomato plants have enough sunlight. If there are trees or bushes that block the sunlight, you must prune them. If the issue comes from a fence or a wall, you have to move your tomato plants to another area that offers more sunlight.

Underwatering or overwatering

The most common reason why your tomatoes have growth issues is too much water, or conversely, not having enough of it. Mature tomato plants will need a lot of water. Just remember that the roots of these plants go deep into the soil, which means that you must make sure that they get enough moisture. Without water, plants cannot get nutrients from the soil, which means that they won’t grow to their full potential.

The good news is, there are early indications of underwatering like the yellowing of the leaves, wilting, and dry soil. You can avoid this by creating and following a regular schedule for watering. 

When the roots of your tomato plant can’t absorb nutrients or water from the soil anymore because there isn’t enough water, it will experience slow or stunted growth. Overwatering, on the other hand, will be much harder to reverse as it could cause root rot, which is typically fatal. Sticking with a watering schedule early on can help with this too.

What helps tomato plants grow faster

There are some things you can do if you want your tomato plants to grow faster. First, you can opt for a fast-maturing variety. If you select a quick grower, like the 4th of July tomato, you will be ready to harvest in just 49 days after transplanting. 

Some varieties take longer, between 80 to 90 days before they reach maturity. This means that you need to wait for a month or longer before you start harvesting tomatoes. Check the variety description to see how many days you will wait for maturity when choosing transplants or buying seeds to plant indoors.

Another way to hasten the growth of your tomato plants is by hardening them off first. Tomato plants require hardening off to get them used to the conditions outside. This applies to tomato plants grown from seed or purchased from nurseries. 

One week before planting the seedlings outside, place them in a protected location outside that’s partly shaded and protected from the wind for a couple of hours. Bring your plants inside the house at night. Over 7 to 10 days, gradually expose your plants to more wind and sunlight. You can also use a Pop-Up Tomato Accelerator. Just place it over each of your tomato seedlings after transplanting to protect it while acclimating.

Poor soil may hinder the growth of your plants as such soil doesn’t have the necessary nutrients needed for the plants to thrive. It’s recommended to have your soil tested to determine what you need. You must add the required nutrients for your tomatoes to bloom and bear fruit. Examples of these are fish emulsion fertilizer, manure, compost, and more. Common problems with soil include wrong nitrogen levels, phosphorus or potassium deficiencies, and excessive salts.

Check the temperature too

Remember that mild-weather climates can also come with long periods of extreme heat. This condition may cause your plants to stop growing altogether. Seedlings won’t thrive in temperatures over 90˚F so you should plant these in locations where they can get shade during the warmest times of the day. There are some weather conditions that will allow you to adjust your growing season to avoid the long and hot summers. For instance, you can grow tomatoes early in spring after the danger of the first frost has passed. You can also wait for the summer heat to end so that you can start your garden in the fall.

Also, remember that when temperatures fall below 55˚Fahrenheit, tomato plants will start having difficulties in producing energy to grow. Temperatures colder than this will have an even more significant effect on them. When it comes to the weather, there isn’t much you can do. But you can take precautions to protect your tomato plants from the intense cold. For instance, with smaller tomato varieties, you can use cloches to serve as their protection from the low temperatures.


The most common causes why your plants are slowly growing are climate, soil, or water issues. When it comes to water, just make sure you neither underwater nor overwater your plants. As for the soil, check that you have chosen a well-draining variety with a slightly acidic pH.  During cold weather, make sure not to expose your plants to frost as this will either delay or stunt their growth.

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