I planted 4 tomato plants later in the season (mid June?). I have a 12" raised bed with good soil in it and they get about 10 hours of direct sunlight every day. I water them every other day with about half a gallon of water on each plant through a drip system. Usually by the end of the second day they are starting to droop a little and the soil is pretty dried out. All of the plants have multiple green tomatoes on them but it seems like they have stopped developing for the last few weeks. Minor changes in size and almost no change in color. About a week ago I tried fertilizing with some 4-6-3 fertilizer after talking to my local nursery but haven't seen any drastic changes.

Based on what I have said above - am I doing anything wrong or is this a normal part of the process? Should I use more of my Fertilizer?

Fertilizer details:

I used the "Fertilizer Tea" method from the bag so I took a cup of fertilizer and mixed it with a gallon of water and split that between two plants. Below are some pictures of the fertilizer I used and the instructions that came on the bag:

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  • More regular watering, like 1/2 gallon per plant every day, is probably better for tomatoes. The key here is "regular", do not miss a day or you can end up with some split tomatoes.
    – Bulrush
    Aug 16, 2019 at 18:07

3 Answers 3


It's quite normal behaviour for a warm location. In my location in Ontario I plant out at the beginning of June and for a while the tomatoes do well with lots of vegetative growth and set about 3 trusses most of which go on to produce normal fruit. Then the heat sets in and weird things start happening. The vegetative growth slows, multiple flower trusses appear but have a hard time producing fruit or if they do then there are problems with blossom end rot. In a week or so the weather will break (it may have done so today with storms passing through) and vegetative growth will start up again with energetic lush green shoots and sideshoots and may produce a couple more trusses before the cold comes back.

If your location is like mine then in a week or so your plants will leap, particularly with the nice feeding you have been giving them. Probably no more feeding will be required. Keep the pruners close to reduce the number of side shoots and fruit trusses to a manageable number.


You need to increase the amount of water you're giving, so try watering them every day with the amount you describe rather than every other day. Once they set fruit, they require regular and sufficient water so the fruits can develop and to try to prevent fruit split and blossom end rot; if your tomato plant leaves are wilting by the second day, they're not even getting enough water to stay turgid, never mind the fruit being able to develop properly. Whilst fertilising is important, water is even more so; water shortage will stunt growth of the plants and formation of new fruits, as well as prevent the fruitlets already formed from maturing properly.


In response to your comment, no, I have absolutely not heard that tomatoes which are fruiting should be stressed to the point of wilting slightly before watering, and I'd be interested to know the reason for believing it's a good idea to do that, because I can't think of a single one. You have mentioned that the soil looks pretty dry when the plants are wilting on the second day - were that not the case, some slight wilting of leaves in the middle of the day could be attributed to constant exposure to very hot sun, but if the soil is very dry, it doesn't sound like it's just that, and you've also stated your plants seem to be 'stagnating'. I don't know whether your raised bed is directly onto the soil in your garden (which would mean the plants are able to root into the soil beneath) or whether it's a separate structure elsewhere, but guidance on frequency and quantity of watering which covers both container and ground growing is given here https://www.espoma.com/fruits-vegetables/how-much-water-do-my-tomato-plants-need/. Even in the supposedly very damp and cool UK where I am, fruiting tomato plants in 9 inch pots often need watering twice a day during warm, dry weather in summer, or a good soak every day if the weather is cool, in the manner described in the link.

Try increasing watering to daily, see what happens...

  • So I've always been told that tomatoes like to be a little stressed when it comes to water. Every time I have described the "wilting right before they get watered" behavior people who generally know what they are talking about say that is what you want. I can almost guarantee that you know more about gardening than me so i'm not questioning your knowledge - more curious if you have ever heard that and if there is anything to it? Aug 7, 2019 at 0:13
  • 2
    That may be true, but as soon as they start to droop growth will slow down and takes time to speed up again. Even in the UK where really hot weather is rare, "half a gallon every other day" would be far too little. Sometimes two gallons per plant twice a day is barely keeping up with them if they are growing fast.
    – alephzero
    Aug 7, 2019 at 1:50
  • I'm in warmer climate then Bamboo, and I water every two or three days (and my tomatoes are in a sort of green house. Watering is a problem, but more water (every two or three days) is in my opinion better: increase root growth, more nutrient could be collected (just watering the top, only top nutrient are available). If there is water problem, you will see on bottom part of the fruits (some varieties are more sensible to water changes). High temperatures are not good for tomatoes (more then 30C). Professionally: shadows and watering (very short time, water should go away in 3 min) leaves. Aug 7, 2019 at 6:32
  • See updated answer
    – Bamboo
    Aug 7, 2019 at 10:26
  • I think your empirical results show that water stressing tomatoes is not good for them.
    – Tim Nevins
    Aug 7, 2019 at 15:03

Late season planting would not work at all for us in our location.

Right after planting our tomatoes it can take a few weeks before they really start growing strongly.

The choice of yours to not water deeply or much is probably the main problem. Figure that the root size of a good tomato plant is about the same size as the top growth and then realize that how much moisture must be spread throughout that entire volume of soil which both supports the growth of the plant but also the formation of the fruits. Depending upon your climate losses to evaporation or water soaking down through the soil beyond where the roots can reach it can also be important factors which point to general soil conditions and quality.

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