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Tomato Branches Growing Downward – Is It Normal?

Growing tomatoes is a fun, beginner’s way into gardening. They are easy, but at the same time, they can teach you a lot about growing your food. Tomatoes usually grow upwards and can grow to be very tall. So, it may come as a shock to you if your tomato plants begin to grow downwards. But, why would tomato branches grow downward in the first place?

Tomato branches can start growing downwards when they have too much weight; may not have enough water or enough nutrients. Downward growth can also be a result of your tomato plant experiencing some stress.

Whatever the issue is, there may be ways to fix it. The article below will discuss why tomato branches are growing downwards, what causes the abnormal growth, and if it can be fixed. Keep reading. 

What Causes Tomato Branches To Grow Downwards?

As we briefly touched upon above, several reasons may cause a tomato plant to start growing downwards. Let’s go into further detail about these causes.

Tomato Plant Too Heavy

Tomato plants can grow big and strong; however, they need a lot of aid from support systems to hold them up. The tomatoes that grow on the branches are often too heavy for the branches to hold them up. Thus, the branches grow downwards when they are getting weighed down.

If this happens to your tomato plants later in the season, when you have tomatoes starting to grow, then this is almost 100% the cause of the issue. 

Too Much Water

Tomatoes require a lot of water to be happy and healthy, about 2 inches of water a week. However, it is possible to overwater tomatoes, especially when they are younger plants. Overwatering will cause the plant to be waterlogged; oxygen will not be able to flow as freely through its roots and up through the plants, which can stunt growth and cause the plant to grow in strange ways.

Too much water can also cause root rot, which will block nutrients from getting to the rest of the plant. This may be your issue if you have a younger plant that is starting to grow downwards. 

Not Enough Nutrients

Not only do tomatoes need a healthy amount of water, but they also are heavy feeders and greatly rely on nitrogen for much of their growth to be healthy. If they do not have enough nutrients to grow, it will appear as though they are growing downwards as they do not have the energy to grow upwards. 

Space Issues

It is recommended that full-size tomato plants need at least 2 feet between each plant. Or, if you are planting your tomatoes in pots, it is recommended that you plant only one plant per 5-gallon pot.

This is very important for air circulation, so the tomatoes have enough soil space for their roots to spread. Tomatoes planted too close together will grow downwards or in other strange ways as their branches stretch and search for more room to grow. 

How To Fix Downwards Growing Tomato Branches

Luckily, if your tomato branches have started growing downwards, there are some things you can do to help or fix your tomato plants. Let’s have a look.

Trellising

An essential part of growing tomatoes is trellising your tomatoes before they start to fruit. Since tomatoes can’t hold up the weight of the big juicy tomatoes, they need some extra support. There are a few different ways you can trellis. 

Tomato Cage

A simple tomato cage is best for single tomato plants or tomato plants in pots. They are usually metal and shaped like a teepee. Place them over a growing tomato plant, and the plant will grow through the cage and use its beams as support. 

Plastic Trellis

A plastic trellis works best for tomatoes in raised beds. Trellis comes in grid form and lies over tomato plants. You can use multiple layers to add more support as the tomatoes grow. 

A-Frame

Frames are a similar idea to tomato cages. They are structures in an A shape placed over the tomato plants. Handing down is netting, plastic trellis, or metal squares that the tomatoes grow into. 

Tomato Stakes/Bamboo Stakes

Tomato stakes or bamboo stakes work best for quick fixes. Bamboo stakes will be your best friends if you have waited too long and need quick support. You can stick them into the ground, or pot, or raised bed, next to a branch and use a piece of elastic or plastic tape to hold the branch to the stake. 

Tomato String – 

Tomato string works best for larger rows of tomatoes, for instance, if you have a large plot of tomatoes. At one end of the tomato line, place one taller piece of wood or bamboo stake, then run the string down the line, catching all the falling tomato branches.

At the other end, there will be another piece of wood, or bamboo stake, that you tie off on. Run the string down the other side, and you have either side of the tomato line supported. 

Water

To make sure you don’t go over water, it’s best to keep your tomatoes on a good watering schedule. As I said above, tomatoes need around 2 inches of water per week.

You will want to water every 2-3 days unless it is extremely hot. In this case, you will want to water every morning and give your plants good deep water. As you fix your watering issues, your plant will start to get healthier and grow correctly. 

Nutrients

If you notice your tomato plants growing downwards, and a lack of nutrients seems to be the issue, you may want to start giving your tomatoes some liquid nutrient feed.

As tomatoes are in the growing stages of their lives, they like to have a steady dose of nitrogen. Give them a liquid feed with an NPK of 15-4-10, higher in nitrogen and potassium. Feed your tomato plants once a week, and you will start seeing healthier growth.

Space

The only way to tackle the spacing issue is to plan before you plant your tomatoes. Suppose you are planting tomatoes in a raised bed, space out the plants, so they are 2 feet apart. Here is what sized plants should be in each sized pot. 

Size of PotNumber of Tomato Plants
2 gallons1 plant, cherry tomatoes fit 
better in smaller pots.
5 gallons 1 plant, any variety of tomato
10 gallons2 plants, any variety
15 gallons3-4 plants, any variety 
20 gallons 4 plants of any variety,
or 6 cherry tomato plants

Final Thoughts

As tomatoes grow, they may start growing in strange directions. If your tomato plant branches have started growing downwards, it could mean the plant is under some stress. In most cases, you can fix the issue before it is too late, and your tomato plants will be fine, as will your yield. Happy gardening!