Stem Coiling- A Leggy Tomato Solution

Last week in our company garden we transplanted the seedlings because they were outgrowing their seed tray. The onions and tomatoes were also looking a little leggy. The onions were easy to fix by just trimming the greens down to 3 inches. (You can use the greens in salads too!) The tomatoes were a little trickier. Lori Wells, who works in a greenhouse, saw our dilemma and left a suggestion on our facebook page. She said:

“Sometimes by the time we get around to transplanting, we actually coil the stem before we stick it in the hole! They are pretty tough little guys …We take and gently wrap the stem (of the tomato) around our finger so that all of the stem fits in the hole we make. We have a device that punches all the holes into a flat, so we have to make the tall plant fit in the short hole. If you have ever noticed, tomato stems are bumpy all the way up, the bumps become roots if you plant them deep in the ground. Better root system, better plant.”

Tomato plants can get tall quickly but that doesn’t mean they have a developed root system, normally it is suggested to bury them up to their leaves but in our case the plants were much taller than the peat pots so we couldn’t bury them very deep. In this case Lori’s tip is great for getting the best root system for your tomato plant. The coiling allows for the seedlings to be planted in shallower pots and still get maximum root development. Stem coiling has allowed us to bury the stems up to the leaves which will be much better for the plant.

For coiling you first gently remove the plant from the soil. Then wrap the stem around your finger, a pencil or something similar to form a coil or spiral. Try to avoid touching the roots. You then place the plant into the soil of the new pot so that the entire stem is under the soil level with just the leaves exposed.

Below is a video showing how to coil the stem.

Special thanks to Lori for sharing this tip!


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4 Responses to “Stem Coiling- A Leggy Tomato Solution”

  1. March 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Will this same procedure work on zinnias that are long and leggy?

    • March 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

      Yes, it will work on any leggy plant that has a ‘furry’ stem.

  2. Lori
    March 2, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    You can use this technique on many plants. We usually end up doing it on a lot of the annuals. Cosmos, tall zinnias, snap dragons, salvias etc. You just have to be careful not to break the stem.

  3. Marla Maxwell
    March 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    I think this is great! I love learning new things! I had really good tomato plants last year I can’t wait to see how they turn out this year now that I know this little trick, it came just in time too. I just found your site today while inquiring about composting, needless to say I signed up straight away for your newsletter. Thank you for the info.

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