I started with a few tomato seeds indoors in 1"x1" pods. Once the seeds germinated and the seedling was a good 2" tall, I transplanted these to 4" pots. From there, after it was about 6" tall, I transplanted them to my raised vegetable bed. Some of the transplanted plants are doing well and starting to bear tomatoes. There are two in particular that look perfectly healthy (looking green and all) but are not adding any new growth. No new leaves or flowers and they are still the same height as they were when I planted them. I have fertilized and watered them regularly so that is not an issue. What could the possible reason for this behaviour and how can I reverse it so the plant starts growing? I can post pictures later but this has been bugging me for a few weeks.

  • Not a tomato year, it seems? gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/24692/…
    – Stephie
    Jun 16, 2016 at 19:36
  • :-) in my case I have gone way past the true leaves and I have other plants (even volunteers) doing just fine
    – JStorage
    Jun 16, 2016 at 19:37
  • My mum had planted the same seeds I had, hers stalled a few weeks later. But it is ugly weather this year...
    – Stephie
    Jun 16, 2016 at 19:39
  • For me (san francisco), weather is just fine. I suspect I left the plant in the 4" pot too long but then again, how do I fix this?
    – JStorage
    Jun 16, 2016 at 19:41
  • 1
    So, likely root damage happened at some stage early in life. Jan 12, 2017 at 23:33

3 Answers 3


Simple, those plants need to produce roots in the new and larger soil available..to support the obviously future larger top growth. The growth is under the soil where you can't see. One of the reasons it is wrong to transplant small plants into too large of pots. Relax. Make sure you are using fertilizer that is lower in Nitrogen than Phosphorous and Potassium. Do not overwater tomatoes like to dry out a bit.

When transplanting make sure you 'fruff' the roots a bit. Pulling out roots to learn a new direction, cutting a few. Also stimulates better root growth.

  • Transplanting and fertilizing is already done so that is water under the bridge. The one thing I can do is water less. Right now, I am watering daily but can slow that down to see if it helps.
    – JStorage
    Jun 16, 2016 at 21:59
  • Well this sounds great! What did you fertilize with and how much? Are your raised beds made with artificial sides? I will never garden flat on the ground. Raised beds do have a few negative aspects; one needs to water more and fertilize more often...depending on the soil and slope of garden.
    – stormy
    Jun 16, 2016 at 22:48
  • 1
    ...ok....when you water water VERY DEEP. Keep watering until the soil is at least 4 to 6 " deep. ALLOW TO DRY OUT. Take a spade and cut out a soil profile down a good foot. As you are allowing the water to drain/evaporate, take notice when your plants look like they need water as the depth of dryness from the surface increases. Plants will grow better roots, become more drought tolerant and adapt quicker.
    – stormy
    Jun 16, 2016 at 23:14

I'm going to provide an alternative answer. This is from John Jeavon's book, and other sources.

Seeds should be germinated in 6 inches of soil. This gives a large root mass and makes it easier to transplant. Seeds should be broadcast onto the seed mix, and when the first true leaves appear, you then select the best seedlings from these to transplant again.

You lift the seedlings by their true leaves ( don't disturb the stems or roots ) and transplant them closely into another 6 inch flat. By closely planting your seedlings, you ensure that the soil mix has enough roots to remove as much water as possible so that air is drawn to the roots. Having a deep flat means that the roots don't hit the bottom early as in some plants, that sends a signal to the plant to stop growing. So, that's an issue using small pots to grow seedlings in. Transplant into the garden when they're 6 inches tall. The doubling handling seems to stimulate more root growth vs just seeding straight into the garden.

So, your transplants may have insufficient roots when transplanted so are now catching up, or, may have been stunted by growing in too small a container.


When starting from seed you may not get all the same plant so I would also add this as part of a potential answer. Where were the seeds from is a common followup question I would have.

As a general comment about nutrients, it makes no sense to fertilize a plant that is not actively growing unless there is some sign of deficiency. The neighboring plants bearing flowers and fruits is an indication of something different going on.

When you removed the plant you can examine the root system to make sure it wasn't damaged or diseased.

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