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Tomato Plants Growing Crooked – How To Fix It

Tomatoes are amazing in that they are almost like snowflakes. Each plant grows differently each time; each variety has its own characteristics, and it can be so interesting to see what happens each year. Often, tomatoes will grow in all directions, with branches going everywhere, but what is the cause for this?

Other than tomato plants being tomato plants, there are a few reasons your tomato plants may grow crooked. From insufficient sunlight to temperature issues, your plants may be telling you they are lacking something they need. 

Below we will be talking about why your tomato plants may be growing crooked and how to solve any issues causing this problem. Stay tuned!

Reasons For Crooked Tomato Plants

There are a few reasons why your tomato plants are growing crooked. Let’s take a look.

Insufficient Light

One of the main reasons tomato plants grow a little crooked is because they lack light. Tomatoes, especially seedlings, need full sun to grow properly. Tomato seedlings need at least 14-16 hours of full light; otherwise, they will start to grow leggy (thin, weak, long, and skinny). They will start growing crooked because the plant is searching for a better light source or even leaning towards the direction they feel the light is. 

Temperature

Tomato plants, as we mentioned above, are full sun crops. They are summertime crops and need temperatures of between 65 and 90 to sustain happiness. Cold temperatures will cause tomato plants to flop over and grow crooked. 

Lack of Nutrients

Tomatoes are heavy feeders and rely heavily on nitrogen to grow healthy. A lack of nitrogen and other vital nutrients will cause the plant to weaken and grow in ways that it’s not supposed to.

Variety 

Don’t be surprised if you can’t find anything else wrong with your tomato plants, but they are still growing crazy. Heirloom varieties have a mind of their own and often grow crooked, with branches going in all directions. 

What Happens When Tomatoes Grow Crooked?

It isn’t the worst thing when your tomato plants are growing crooked. However, if the problem is something like a lack of nutrients or insufficient light, it’s important to fix that issue immediately; otherwise, your yield will most likely be affected. 

When heirloom varieties grow crooked, the only real problem is that it can be hard to trellis your tomato plants or give them support. In this case, it’s better to trellis your tomato plants before they really start to grow, and then you can train the branches to grow more straight. 

How To Cure Crooked Growing Tomato Plants

A lot of time, if your tomato plants are growing crooked, they will continue to do so even after you’ve fixed the issue. This is fine, as long as you give the plant proper support. Let’s look at preventative measures and how to solve some of these issues.

Insufficient Light

Before planting your tomatoes in the ground, watch the area where you plan on planting them. Make sure this area gets the maximum sunlight and full sun for all hours of the day. This is the best way to ensure your plants get enough light. 

If the issue is leggy seedlings, you must ensure your tomato seedlings get 14-16 hours of light a day by putting grow lights on them. 

Temperature

To prevent temperature issues, ensure you are planting your tomatoes at the right time. Since they need warmer temps, plant them long after the risk of frost has passed. Sometimes, cold weather strikes even in the summer. We don’t have control over the weather, and this can be stressful for tomato plants.

However, you can do your best by covering your tomato plants with plastic, tarp, shade cloth, or even paper bags or leaves when cold weather is coming. Make your plants a jacket for the cold front coming through. 

Nutrients 

As I mentioned above, tomatoes are heavy nitrogen feeders. The best way to ensure they get all the nutrients they need is by pre-mixing a good quality fertilizer in the soil before you plant. A slow-release soil with an NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) of 4-4-4 or 4-5-3 is the best to mix in as it will slowly release throughout your plant’s life. On top of that, it’s always good to feed your plants nutrients once every couple of weeks to ensure their nutrient levels stay in a good place. 

How To Fix A Leaning Tomato Plant

It is highly recommended to support your tomato plants before they begin to lean or grow crooked; however, if you didn’t get to it on time, there are still ways to fix it. 

At this point, it may be too late to put a tomato cage over the plant carefully. Since tomato cages are built to go over the plant and have the branches grow with the cage, you may risk breaking branches if you’ve waited too long. So, in this case, your best option is to use bamboo stakes to hold your plant in place. 

Carefully lean your plant in an upright position. Take a bamboo stake and hold it against the plant, sticking it in the ground for support. Tie the stake to the plant using nylon, plastic tape, electrical tape, or twine. You can do the same for growing crooked branches or seem like they may need extra support. 

Importance of Straightening Tomato Plants

It may seem silly to fuss over the straightness of tomato plants. The main reason it is such a fuss is that once the tomato begins to form, you may have some more problems. If tomatoes start to grow on crooked tomato vines, usually these vines are on the ground, the tomatoes risk being squished and having rot problems. Your yield can be heavily affected if you don’t have the proper support on your tomato branches. 

Final Thoughts

Tomatoes grow crooked for several reasons. From light issues to nutrient issues, to sometimes just their variety! Luckily, many preventative measures can be taken to ensure that your tomato plants grow exactly the way they are supposed to. Plus, it’s always good to help your plants out by giving them some structural support. Happy gardening!