Ask a Question forum: too many tomato plants in a gardening pot

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Name: Kevin Benoit
New Brunswick, Canada (Zone 3b)
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kevinbenoit
Jun 27, 2016 2:06 PM CST
Hello, I've planted some tomatoes with a Tomato Rocket in a pot about two months ago. Its a roll with seeds in it I think they are roma tomatoes. 2 months later, I,'m realizing that i should've thinned out more of the sprouts as i'm stuck with about fifteen plants that are about three feet tall in the same large Pot. Its my first time growing tomatoes and I started them in a apartment without knowing that I should've thinned them out to about 2-3 plants. They do have a few flowers coming out and about 3 tomatoes already about half grown. The problem that I have right now is that my pot is vastly overcrowded, The stem is not as thick as it should be and the leaves take almost all the space in the support cage, I have tried thinning out the leaves but I don't want to destroy the branches with flowers on them. I am wondering If its too late to maybe cut a few of the plant at the base to give the stronger ones a chance to get thicker and if its a good thing to do to get the most tomatoes.

I will attach a photo of the plant taken today and when it was growing inside my appartment.
Thumb of 2016-06-27/kevinbenoit/2d70e6


Thumb of 2016-06-27/kevinbenoit/b92ef7

Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Jun 27, 2016 2:16 PM CST
I would cut out all but just a few at the base, as you suggested. That will give room for the remaining plants to flourish. I don't grow tomatoes in pots (many folks do and will likely chime in) but I keep my in-ground tomatoes to one strong plant every 2-3 feet. Good luck and welcome to this site!
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 27, 2016 2:31 PM CST
I agree One plant would have given you a better harvest in that pot, Kevin. But now that they're going, as Deb says, cut off the innermost ones of the group carefully, leaving maybe two or three total. Keep them moist - I would think you'll need to water morning and evening to keep those plants alive through the hot weather in that pot - and fertilize!

Next year when you start tomatoes, remember Only One Plant Per Pot! Plant just a few seeds in each pot, and thin out extra plants while they are tiny.
Elaine

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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jun 27, 2016 2:46 PM CST
Yes, cut out the weakest, thinnest plants at the base. Don't try to pull out the roots as I think you might pull out everything.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jun 27, 2016 2:48 PM CST
Bonehead said:I would cut out all but just a few at the base, as you suggested. That will give room for the remaining plants to flourish. I don't grow tomatoes in pots (many folks do and will likely chime in) but I keep my in-ground tomatoes to one strong plant every 2-3 feet. Good luck and welcome to this site!


I agree

Welcome to NGA, @Kevinbenoit !
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Name: Robyn
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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robynanne
Jun 27, 2016 3:12 PM CST
That second picture is what one normal plant would look like all by itself.
Name: Kevin Benoit
New Brunswick, Canada (Zone 3b)
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kevinbenoit
Jun 27, 2016 4:53 PM CST
HI thanks you everyone for the feedback. The second picture is what it looks like as of today with about 15 different stems. I think I will do as some of you suggested and cut out the weaker ones. I'll try to spare the ones with fruits on them and flowers. Will they flourish and become stockier after I cut out the weak ones ?

Thank you all for the help!! very appreciated.

Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jun 27, 2016 5:23 PM CST
Cutting out some of those plants will allow the others top spread out and grow. But don't expect too much from the plants that are left. They will never do as well as they would have under proper conditions.

However, now you know and next season you will do everything correctly and have perfect plants.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jun 27, 2016 5:48 PM CST
A question for you tomato experts - if Kevin cuts the excess plants off how likely is it that the stumps will resprout anyway, even if below the lowest visible node? Toms are often planted deep and/or horizontally below ground to take advantage of adventitious roots, I think they may also be able to form adventitious shoots. If that's the case cutting them off will not help. Just a thought. If they could be carefully pulled out and babied then there'd be more plants (which Kevin may or may not want!).
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jun 27, 2016 5:59 PM CST
Cut them at soil line and there will not be enough plant left to regrow, just a stump.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jun 27, 2016 6:24 PM CST
I know that works with most plants, and I assume since these were from a seed tape that the first node is above the soil surface in this particular case rather than planted deep with the first leaf joint below the surface. But tomatoes can produce adventitious shoots I think, so can they do that even below the bottom node or do we know for sure they can't? I guess Kevin will find out Hilarious!
Name: Robyn
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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robynanne
Jun 27, 2016 6:41 PM CST
I suspect they will grow back even if you cut at the soil line. I've had plenty eaten off at the soil line by critters only to grow back. You might have some not grow.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jun 27, 2016 7:00 PM CST
I agree with Robyn that they are quite likely to regrow -- but they can then be trimmed off (again). I always cut the branches off to about 1-1/2 feet from the soil line (so I don't have leaves dragging on the ground and getting more diseases than they do anyway), and many of them send up shoots from the base. (Although my plants were planted fairly deeply, so maybe they won't sprout if they've never been transplanted.)
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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jun 28, 2016 8:53 AM CST
Bonehead said:I would cut out all but just a few at the base, as you suggested. That will give room for the remaining plants to flourish. I don't grow tomatoes in pots (many folks do and will likely chime in) but I keep my in-ground tomatoes to one strong plant every 2-3 feet. Good luck and welcome to this site!


I agree with this and would eliminate all but two plants.
I used to grow them two feet apart, not in pots, but became tired of constantly trimming so each plant go enough sun, air and the close foliage often encouraged the spreading of disease.
Usually but not always and when I do not I regret it, I keep the trunks clear up to approx. sixteen inches off of the ground and remove any branches as with a fruit tree that grow towards the center.

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