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Can Tomato Plants Have Too Much Calcium – Which Amount Is Ideal?

If you are new to the homegrown community, there are many challenges you might face. When growing your own vegetables and greens, several factors come into play. In this article, we will be discussing tomatoes and how calcium affects their growth. Too much calcium can be very detrimental to your plant growth. So the question is, can tomato plants have too much calcium?

Tomato plants can have too much calcium. Inconsistent amounts of water, the existing nutrients in the soil, and the things you add to your tomatoes, as the farmer, drastically affect calcium content and consumption in your tomato plants.

Now that we know what causes excess calcium let us look at why it affects our tomato growth, what it does to our plants, how we can fix it, and finally, how we can prevent this.

Identifying the causes of high calcium in tomato plants

Several factors go into calcium content in tomato plants. Once we determine the cause, it becomes easier to decide on the solutions and preventative measures we should take in the future.

Water

Calcium is a natural element in water. Depending on the source of your water will determine how much calcium is present. If you are using ‘tap water,’ it may dissolve its calcium from high calcium content rocks such as limestone, calcite, gypsum, etc. This is also considered to be ‘hard’ water.

Minerals such as calcium and magnesium are naturally present in water. The higher the levels, the harder the water is considered to be. This can affect your plant in many ways since water is such a crucial factor in agriculture.

The water you choose to use for your plants can dramatically affect their growth patterns and yields. It is a vital part of plant life. Water in plants is vital for transporting nutrients and organic compounds. High calcium in water affects the plant’s ability to produce healthy buds, its ability to photosynthesize, as well as its ability to survive temperature fluctuations.

Soil

Nutrients in the soil are directly affected by its consistency. Sandy soils have less calcium, whereas clayey soils test much higher. Limestone contents in the soil also cause higher calcium levels. An effective way to identify high calcium soil is to determine the mixtures of soil present. Light to white-colored soil is typically higher in calcium.

You can have your soil evaluated to determine whether your soil is healthy enough for growing your tomato plants or whether you should create your bed of soil to plant in with store-bought bags of soil and fertilizer.

Depending on your gardening method, assessing your soil could save you a lot of headaches. Calcium comes from several different natural sources, so when you supplement calcium, it is important to factor in all the natural sources of calcium your plant is receiving to avoid calcium toxicity. 

Plant additives and plant food

The more calcium in your soil, the higher the pH and acidity. Suppose you decide on a more non-traditional style, such as raised beds, container gardening, etc. It is quite a bit easier to facilitate and manage the soil acidity and nutrient levels with plant additives, such as fertilizer, specialized soil, and plant food.

However, you can send your tomatoes into shock if you introduce too many chemicals all at once. It is also possible for a produce gardener to apply too much calcium to prevent ‘blossom end rot’ on their tomato vines. Tomatoes require a very balanced soil nutrient level and pH level to have a healthy yield. Too many calcium supplements can cause what is called ‘over-liming.’

What are the symptoms of calcium toxicity in tomato plants?

Too much calcium can cause your plants to die because it causes the soil pH levels to rise to levels that plants cannot survive. 

Excess calcium levels can prevent your tomatoes from taking up other required nutrients. Too much calcium can cause a magnesium deficiency because calcium and magnesium are so atomically similar that they compete for absorption by tomato plant roots. This can also cause reduced plant growth.

Extra amounts of calcium can, in turn, cause a magnesium deficiency because they are consuming everything the tomato roots intake. This is a huge problem because magnesium is what produces chlorophyll. Without chlorophyll, tomato plants cannot photosynthesize, which results in no energy or food for your tomatoes to grow.

Yellow leaves are a symptom of too much calcium. Magnesium deficiencies are identified by the discoloring of leaves between the veins. Leaves will go from bright, healthy green to a pale yellow, finally a light, crunchy brown appearance, also known as ‘intervein chlorosis.’

How do I mitigate excessive calcium in my tomato plants?

Suppose you suspect your plants are intaking too much calcium. In that case, the first thing you should do is stop giving your plants any supplements containing calcium, such as gypsum and supplemental soils that include excessive amounts of calcium. 

There are a few options that you can consider when you are trying to alter the nutrients being absorbed by your plants: fertilizers, plant food, or elemental additives. On a side note, be sure not to consume your tomatoes directly after applying fertilizer or additives to your soil or water. You should wait about a week.

Fertilizers

Traditionally, farmers would identify the missing minerals or excess minerals and spread their fertilizer based on the plant’s nutrients or nutrients that their soil and plants lack. They would then spread their fertilizer or designated plant food that correlated with the missing nutrients.

Although this may work in theory, if done improperly or too quickly, it could spike or drastically lower the soil’s pH, causing the tomato plants to go into shock. This could result in a deficiency in other essential nutrients.

Plant Foods

There are a few different recommended plant foods. Soil Acidifier is an organic plant food that safely lowers the pH of soil. It is an all-natural sulfur soil. The Safer Gro pH Down brand is used for lowering pH in hydroponic systems. 

Plant foods containing sulfur compounds are also used to lower pH. Be careful when applying these to your soil, as they can send your plants into shock if the pH is lowered too quickly. Too much sulfur can lower the pH of your soil below the required range your tomatoes require.

Elemental Additives

Adding elemental sulfur, aluminum sulfate, or sulfuric acid to your soil is the fastest to lower soil pH. However, it is best to use this method before your tomatoes have been planted and have become established. 

If your tomatoes are already established, you can lightly add the aluminum sulfate or elemental sulfur to the water you are using. This can be done once a month so as not to shock your plants.

How do I prevent my tomato plants from getting too much calcium?

Before planting your tomato plants, it is important to assess your soil’s pH and nutrients levels.

Determine whether your tomato plants will receive the proper nutrients to yield the best results. If you determine that it would be best to plant your tomato plants in your current ground soil, you can take some preseason steps to help prepare your soil. 

Mix in as much organic compost as you can get your hands on and spread it over your soil a month or so before planting your tomatoes. Add any additives your soil may require to balance out its pH levels and acidity before the season.

In conclusion

Yes, tomato plants require specific amounts of calcium; however, too much calcium can cause them not to be able to absorb the proper amounts of other nutrients they require. 

It is best to check your soils levels before planting your tomatoes, but if your plants are already established, there are still options you can choose from to try and bring back your tomato plants to harvest the best yield possible. Finally, be patient with yourself. Becoming a home-grower is a learning process.