It takes a lot to grow tomatoes, including the right factors. Even the slightest shift in their exposure to light and water can cause tomato plants to change. Among the changes that are possible are non-typical colors on leaves and stems.
While red-stemmed tomato plants are not considered “healthy,” it is not out of the ordinary. In most cases, stems that start to turn red indicate that your tomato plant needs more minerals like phosphorus and magnesium or more warmth in the soil.
If you’ve started to see a color change in your plant stems, you may need to make some minor tweaks to your soil. We’ll share some things that you can do to give stems their green hue back and explain why your plants are changing colors.
Are Red Stemmed Tomato Plants Normal?
It’s not uncommon to have tomato plants with red or purple stems. Tomato plants are sensitive and often display signs of stress when they do not experience the conditions they need. Some potential problems include:
- Lack of phosphorus
- Lack of magnesium
- Soil temperatures that are too cold
- Exposure to lighting that’s too strong
When the stems of tomato plants start to turn colors, it’s a sign of their health. Knowing how to read these signs allows you to adjust things here and there and get your tomato plants growing strong.
Can Purple-Stemmed Tomatoes Recover?
Though tomato plants are sensitive, they continue to grow once they start getting the nourishment they need. That means that, of course, they can recover, though you have to know how to do it. The way to fix it depends on the issue, which could take some guesswork to uncover.
One of the best places to start is with your soil; ensure that the temperature is not too cold. You can start trying things here and there to give your tomato plants what they need. If they’ve turned purple, you can recover them over time, slowly adjusting their conditions until they are nice and green and growing healthy.
How To Fix Red Stems on Tomato Stems?
Any strange signs on your tomato plants can put you in a state of panic. However, if you see red stems, the last thing you should do is panic. It’s pretty common and can happen at any time.
The best way to approach this issue is to tackle them one by one, observing how your plant reacts after each until you get to the bottom of it. We suggest following this order, starting with the easiest and most common first, then going down the list.
#1. Start with The Soil
Tomatoes love the heat and can start to show signs of stunted or slow growth in temperatures below 50oC. Not only does cold soil stunt roots, but it also depletes the amount of phosphorous in the soil, which could cause decreased absorption through the roots.
You’ll need to heat them when colder temperatures lead to colder soils. If you have your tomato plants inside, it can be as simple as adding a heater. However, if you have them outside, you may need to add mulch or cover them up. In extreme cases, you can do both, especially if you’re expecting a freeze overnight.
#2. Then, Check the Phosphorus
Phosphorus is one of the critical nutrients that tomato plants need. In the soil, it acts as a converter, aiding in breaking down complex materials into those that plants can easily absorb. Without a good amount of phosphorus around, tomato plants can quickly become deficient and unable to absorb much of the nutrients they’re exposed to.
If you suspect that your plants don’t have enough phosphorous, add some fertilizer with high phosphorous content and low nitrogen content. Don’t overdo it from the beginning, adding a bit here and there to inoculate your soil. Take some time to see how your tomato plants react, and if it’s positive, you can add a little more.
#3. Next, the Magnesium
Magnesium is an element that aids plants in the production of chlorophyll. As we all know from biology, chlorophyll is why plants are green, going through a complicated cycle of photosynthesis to access sugars.
If you tried adding some phosphorous and still notice a red hue on your tomato plant’s stems, you may need to add some magnesium. To do so, you can use some Epsom salt and water. Mix a teaspoon of salt into a gallon of water, adding it to a spray bottle.
Spritz your tomato plant’s leaves and stems, giving them a good covering; this is something you want to do a little at a time, waiting about a week before you do it again. You can combine both #2 and #3, just as long as you don’t overdo them.
#4. Finally, Check your Lighting
This step is only applicable if you’re growing your tomatoes indoors. If you are, you likely have some lights going, using them as a way to give your plants light. While there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s one thing you need to be careful with, the intensity.
When lights are new, they can be harsh, especially LED lights. Try to start with dimmable lights, starting with lower light exposure and increasing bit by bit. Don’t go up to 100% intensity, as that could cause plants to experience stress.
Before You Go
Tomato plants are quite picky when it comes to growing conditions. They like the soil warm, the soil nutritious, and the light just right. There is no need to worry if you start to notice red stems on your tomato plant.
Start by adjusting things here and there and see what’s causing this reaction. Whether it’s the temperature, the nutrients, or water, you can nurse them back to normal and grow an entire crop without a problem.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!