12 Ways to Speed Up Tomato Growth

Tomato Plant
Tomato Plant (Source: Unsplash)

There has always been an extreme excitement in plucking my early ripe tomatoes. I guess you must be in my club of impatience to see the blossoming red fruits to speed up tomato growth.

The 12 concerning factors that affect the speedy growth of your tomatoes are spacing between tomato seedlings, temperature, nutrients level, watering, pruning leaves, plant deep, transplant shock heat soil, and the plant. 

Let me provide you a few tips and tricks in more detail from my gardening experience. The following points have helped me to create first-rate speed in my tomatoes’ growth.

1. Heat the Soil

The temperature of both air and soil needs to be warm enough for the tomatoes to breed well. Tomatoes love the heat.

Let us look into some shortcuts:

Covering the soil in the planting zone with red or black plastic can fasten the process of heating the soil.

Casing it for a couple of weeks will do. This promotes the heat to induce a lot quicker.

With enough heat, the cover can be removed later before planting the tomatoes.

You can also grow them in raised beds or pots. The extra height will help the soil to raise the temperature faster which helps to speed up tomato growth.

Alongside, the drainage holes in the pots prevent water from retaining the soil inside. Hence, leading to quicker growth of your tomatoes with fewer hurdles.

2. Provide Sufficient Heat to the Plant

Make sure you choose the sunniest part of your house to place the tomato plant.

Direct sunlight is always the best choice rather than placing it in a sunny window.

Proper sunlight to the plant                                                          (Source: unsplash.com)

Keeping your tomato plant on the south side of your house does make a big difference. It exposes to a lot of sunlight. Terraces are also a good option where there are no shade interferences.

A minimum of 6 hours of sunlight is needed; 8 or more hours will produce the best outcomes for how many tomatoes you want to get.

Applying cages also helps the sunlight to get well trapped; the rays reach the fruits more strongly and helps to speed up tomato growth.

An alternative method such as artificial plant lighting is also used with greenhouse rooms. The lighting should be provided for around 14 – 18 hours every day.

You can also use Fluorescent lights as a source of artificial lighting. It needs to be placed a couple of inches above the young plants. Hence, the light needs to be raised as the seedlings start to grow. It can be executed during the initial growth phase and later shift outside in the sun.

3. Provide Plenty of Space Between Plants

While planting tomatoes, you should space out enough expanse between the plants. It is essential to have a well-thought-out planning area while planting the seeds.

As much as we humans feel suffocated in a compact room, compression makes the plants difficult to absorb enough oxygen, nutrients, and moisture. They are also fighting amongst each other to get all those three.

Hence, lack of space ultimately leads to sluggish growth of the whole plant.

Congested Plant with Yellow Leaves
Congested Plant with Yellow Leaves

A good space should be provided both horizontally and vertically. Crowding them together will cause a hazard later on.

Spacing out distances between the plants differs according to the type of tomato varieties too.

Tomato plants can grow from a couple of feet tall to all the way to 12 feet.

4. Plant Deep

Be ready to get your hands dirty!!

Dig your tomato plants deep enough to get a sturdy, healthy, and strong base.

Additionally, planting deep provides good support when the weather is not yet suitable for the tomatoes to grow.

How to do it?

  • Firstly, you can remove the small branches that are coming out of the stem.
  • Then bury each plants’ stems up to three-quarters deep.

Deeply planted stems will help anchor your plant more sturdily as new and more roots emerge from the stems themselves.

More Roots = A Robust Plant = Early and Many Tomatoes

5. Provide Enough Nutrients to the Soil

Infertile soil disorders can slow the growth of your tomatoes. It could also mean having too high or too low of pH level in the soil.

The optimal pH level should be in the range of 6.0 to 6.8; 7.0 pH is neutral.

It would be best to fetch optimum nutrients to the soil, but excessive is also not good. In case of deficiency, it can be detected through an indication of yellow leaves of the plant.

The possible insufficient nutrients could be iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, or magnesium.

The most common lacking nutrient is nitrogen. However, too much nitrogen can again cause an ample amount of green growth at the cost of fruits and flowers.

If it is difficult to figure out the pH level or lacking nutrition in the soil; Soil Test is the solution.

For testing the soil: You can send the soil to a local agriculture extension or even buy a soil pH test kit.

Inducing nutrients: Another best way to add nutrients would be pouring some smelly dump in the soil.

Aaha! Definitely not the garbage but the waste composts extracted from eggshells, onion skins, potato skins, banana peel, etc. Proper soil quality and composts help in transporting the nutrient properly.

This natural organic method can be easily applied at home. You can collect some water in a bucket and accumulate all the bio-degradable wastes in it. Later, directly add it to the soil.

I have been using these waste matters for a long time now with my other plants too. It highly contains nutrition and helps for the faster growth of the plant.

Nevertheless, be careful about the oversupply of nutrition. It can create a negative impact by stopping plant growth.

Are your tomato plants growing healthily? Click here and confirm.

6. Proper Aeration in the Soil

Aeration is airing inside the soil. Therefore, it acts as a booster for a healthy tomato plant. Soil can become compact due to heavy rain or too much watering.

An aerator or a pitchfork can be used around the plant to create space holes in the soil.

A well-ventilated soil helps the plant to breathe properly.

Garden Forks
Garden Forks (Source: unsplash.com)

So, get your tools ready for some digging!

7. Transplant Shock

Transplant shock is a concern that many of us do not give much attention to. Instead, we get excited to bring a plant to our house and directly cultivate it without adjusting them to the sudden temperature change.

The changing environment can differ in the amount of light, air, and hear. Hence, this gives a shock to the plants.

Every time I purchase or get a plant from my friend’s place, I try to acclimatize them firstly to the outdoor atmosphere. I recommend you do the same.

How to do it?

  • Firstly, try to keep the plant outside for a few hours every day and then bring it back. Keep doing this for a week.
  • Keep the plant away from harsh wind, rain, and direct sunlight while shifting outside.  
  • Finally, you can transplant it in your garden or outdoor pot once it is hardened. This eliminates the shudder effect in the plant.

8. An Appropriate Amount of Water

DO NOT Overwater

Don’t overdo your plant with excessive kindness!

Overwatering is the most common issue for slowing the growth of tomato plants. It usually instigates in heavy clay soil, which does not drain well leading to Root Rot.

Sandy or loamy soil is suitable for planting tomatoes as it drains quickly. Another solution for the drainage could be adding compost matters too.

Too much watering generates moisture in the soil for a long time, leaving no space for air and suffocating the plant to breathe. Also, it gets difficult for the plant to absorb the required nutrients and water. This ultimately stops the plants’ growth.

Water the plant correctly           (Source: unslpash.com)

Be Careful: Even though the soil is moist, the plant may still look underwater sometimes.  You can use your fingers to feel the soil to a depth of few inches. Henceforth, watering the plant is recommended if it feels dry.

DO NOT Underwater

Tomato plants need plenty of optimum water to grow. Nevertheless, it should be the right amount.

Too much or too little watering at any stage of the plant growth leads to slow development of the plant.

The plants are very deep-rooted, with 2 feet or more inside the ground. As a result, they prefer receiving enough water to soak completely into the ground and roots.

You will be able to see some indications in case of underwatered:

  • Floppy leaves, Dry Soil, and Yellow leaves

The dryness of the soil causes floppy leaves but if watered on time, it revives back rapidly again.

How to water your plant to speed up tomato growth?

  • Water approximately 1 inch per week in the tomato plants.
  • Smear the water directly to the soil, around the base of the plant with a garden pipe.
  • Water the plants in the morning if you are using an overhead sprinkler. This helps to lessen foliar disease problems.

9. Temperature Issues

The heat-loving tomato plants aren’t suitable for fickle spring weather.  Similarly, they usually grow slowly in cold temperatures. Saying this, even extreme temperatures are unfavorable for the tomatoes; very dry and scrooching sunlight can damage them too.

Temperature dropping below 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) forms difficulty in the plant’s growth. Whereas above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) is also not considered suitable for early growth.

To control temperature, you can even put mulch around the soil of your tomato plants. It helps to retain water and also insulates the soil by preventing temperature fluctuations.

Shade cloth can protect the plant, lowering it up to 10 degrees of Fahrenheit.

10. Varieties of Tomatoes

There are several varieties of tomatoes that all of us might not be aware of.  Some of them are Cherry tomatoes, Grape tomatoes, Beefsteak tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, Heirloom tomatoes, Green tomatoes, etc.

The varieties of the tomatoes steers their growth speed leading to different maturity extensions.

Tomato varieties                                (Source: unsplash.com)

The most common type of tomato is “Fourth of July tomatoes.” As much as the name defines, it ripes within the fourth of July. They are easy to plant and grow.

Early girl tomatoes produce fruit and flowers until they are destroyed by external factors or frost. They are inexhaustible and very reliable, which harvests within 50 – 62 days after the transplantation. It is a good early yield, same as its name.

Whereas heirloom tomatoes take a bit longer time of 65 – 75 days to ripe, beefsteak tomatoes take much longer.

Similarly, here is a list of some fast-growing tomatoes which you might want to grow for your speedy ripening tomatoes:

  • 4th of July
  • Early Girl
  • Black Prince
  • Juliet or Mini San Marzano
  • Betalux
  • Black Cherry
  • Cherry Variety
    • Sun Gold
  • Heirloom Variety
    •  Sub Arctic Plenty
    • Bloody Butcher
    • Orange Roma
    • Tigerella
    • Golden Sweet

11. Prevent from Fungal Diseases

The prevailing obstacles during the growth of the plant drag the time of receiving our fully ripe tomatoes.

Fungal diseases are caused due to the bottom leaves of the plant. The reason behind fungus in these leaves is their presence near the ground. Likewise, soilborne pathogens directly get on them.

These lowermost leaves are old and receive the least amount of sunlight exposure and airflow.

Eliminating the bottom leaves of the stem after your tomato plant reaches around 3 feet tall is suggested to prevent fungal diseases.

Compost tea is also effective in managing the fungal disease of the plant. You can spray it in a weekly period.

Other suggestive ideas can also be applied to prevent fungal diseases

12. Pruning Tomato Plant Leaves

You can find small leaves in between the branches of tomato plants. They will be popping up unnecessarily absorbing the nutrients of the plant and fruits. These side vines suck up the energy of the whole plant leading to small tomatoes rather than big plump ones.

Though the vines can bear fruit later on, the compromise will be on Quantity over Quality.

Pruning is great for bigger, redder, early ripening tomatoes.

Too many bunched-up leaves can also be trimmed out slightly so that the fruit is completely well exposed to sunlight.

However, you should not do too much trimming. It leads to less sweet tomatoes to ripe. This is so because the leaves are actually photosynthesizing in generating sugar, giving flavors to your fruits.

It is very disappointing when our tomatoes grow slow despite proper care and nourishment.

Sometimes it is not only about what “we should do” but also about what we “should not”. Lack of the right information and knowledge might be the hindrances to speed up tomato growth.

Just as the above points worked great for my tomato plants, I hope they will help you too.

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