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Why Are My Tomato Plants Spindly? Oh No!

Why Are My Tomato Plants Spindly? Oh No!

When growing tomatoes, it can be unpleasant to realize most of your plants are growing spindly.

With spindly plants, it will become challenging when it reaches the fruit-bearing stage as they will be unable to withstand the weight leading to breakage.

Whether you have noticed this issue elsewhere and you would like to avoid it or are currently experiencing it, we got you covered.

This article contains well-researched content on the primary reasons for spindly tomato plants. For healthy tomato growing tips, please continue reading to the end.


Why are my tomato plants spindly?

Lack of sunlight can cause this problem as the plant will stretch towards the light source. Other reasons could be lack of nitrogen, planting the wrong tomato plant type, or incorrect temperatures. Lastly, overcrowding can also cause your tomato plants to grow spindly. 


Five Reasons Why My Tomato Plants Are Spindly


Lack of enough sunlight

For healthy tomato growth, they require enough sunlight. The recommended amount of direct sunlight is about 6 to 8 hours daily.

Timing is essential before venturing into the tomato business. You need to understand the four seasons of the year and decide the best time to start planting.

It is best to start planting tomatoes towards the end of spring. During this time, the earth is a bit warm, and that is necessary for germination.

By the time they germinate, it is summertime, and they can receive the necessary sun for healthy growth.

Tomatoes require such an amount of direct sun to manufacture food. When they do not get enough sun, they will tend to stretch in search of sunlight.

Since they are not making enough food, they will automatically become spindly. If your tomatoes are receiving less sunlight daily, then that’s leading to the problem of spindly tomato plants.


Lack nitrogen

Nitrogen is an essential compound necessary for healthy tomato growth.

Nitrogen provides the necessary nutrients needed by tomatoes to develop healthy plant tissues. Thus, nitrogen deficiency can cause the issue of spindly plants and unable to bear fruits.

The plants become tall, thin and are susceptible to breakage. If you notice your tomatoes are growing spindly and all other factors are in check, the issue could be they lack enough nitrogen.

Get yourself the N-P-K fertilizer and apply as directed. You will start to notice a change in a few weeks of application.


Indeterminate Species

If you have planted indeterminate species, you will realize that your tomatoes are growing very tall. For this species, it is normal, and there is nothing to be worried about.

This tomato plant species usually grows up to 20 inches tall.

As such, they usually require support by the use of a fence or tall sticks. They might even require some pruning for optimum productivity.

As long as the stem remains strong, its height should not worry you.



Planting tomatoes closely together can result in being tall and spindly.

First, due to overcrowding, the plants form a canopy-like shape. This makes it challenging for the sun to reach all leaves and to penetrate to the ground.

Lack of sunlight will result in a spindly plant as they try to stretch out in such adequate sunlight.

Additionally, overcrowding will result in plants competing for nutrients and water.

Nutrient deficiency will result in the spindly plant as they cannot manufacture enough food for growth and fruit development. 

Lack of water will make it challenging to transport the nutrients from the soil up to a plant. Besides, water is essential in preventing root rot.

Overcrowding further leaves no room for the expansion of the plant’s roots. Thus, the plants may break during fruit-bearing as they are unable to support the additional weight. 

The roots require adequate surface area to spread and affirm themselves on the ground.

Thus, it is essential to ensure adequate tomato spacing while planting.

While spacing depends on the type of tomatoes, the recommended spacing is about 18 to 24 inches apart.

If you have not observed this spacing rule and now your tomato plants are spindly, the problem could be overcrowding.


Recommended Temperatures Not Maintained

The recommended temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night and below 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day for healthy tomato growth.

If the temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for a prolonged period, it can stunt tomato plants’ growth and minimize pollination resulting in spindly plants.

If temperatures normalize, the plant may recover, but reducing pollination can result in a reduced amount of fruiting.


Remedies For Spindly Tomato Plants


Increase sunlight exposure

If your tomatoes are becoming spindly due to lack of enough sun, you should consider moving them to a place with adequate lighting.

Keep checking throughout the day to ensure no shade covers them at any point during the day.

Remove any structure around the garden that has the potential of casting a shadow on the plants or move the plants periodically.


Proper spacing

While planting and transplanting, ensure you strictly follow the spacing guidelines.

Overcrowding will result in a lack of sunlight for all plants, competition for water and nutrients, and poor root spread, resulting in spindly plants.

But with proper spacing, you can prevent this issue from occurring.


Adequate nitrogen fertilizer

Soil is naturally rich in various minerals, but as the plants grow and start to utilize more minerals, it is essential to supplement the soil.

NPK fertilizers are recommended as it contains proper ratios of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous needed by the plant. 

Apply adequate nitrogen fertilizer to prevent spindly plants.


Temperature optimization

If the nights are too cold and temperatures fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, it is essential to solve the issue before it causes harm to your crops.

For instance, you can light the areas or rooms with bulbs that provide heat. This will raise the temperatures to the desired level and save your plants from becoming spindly.


Frequently Asked Questions about Why Tomato Plants are Spindly


How tall should the tomato plant grow?

The height of tomato plants is different in every species. However, the average height of a determinate variety is about 60 inches (12.7cms). Indeterminate species have an average height of about 96 inches (20cms).


Why are my tomato plants lanky?

Inadequate sunlight, nitrogen, overcrowding, incorrect temperatures, or even species type are some of the reasons you could be having this trouble with your plants.


Why are my tomatoes tall with no flowers?

If your tomatoes are tall but have no flowers, the issue could be with over-fertilization. If you overfeed your plants with nitrogen fertilizers, they may grow tall and lack flowers as they are yet the flowering age.

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