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i was at costco the other day and couldn't help myself. their tomato plants were just huge so i bought one... for a little instant gratification in the garden and a boost of production from a variety i haven't eaten I figured...

well, in planting the german paste or whatever it is, the dirt around the plant collapsed into the hole and the (3) plant(s) went with them all strewn about. i was not too concerned... but perhaps I should have been.

now i have three sad tomato plants hanging and flapping in the wind looking like they want to die. just the other day they were very happy and vigorous plants. and yes... these are protected from the cold at night. what can I do?

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My mom used to tell me to add some diluted B1 solution to newly planted plants to avoid transplant shock.


I bought that story for years about Vit. B1 being good for transplants and recommended it frequently, but recently learned that was a 1940's marketing ploy which has been debunked in several studies.  Sunset Magazine did several trials:

Here are another link:

So save your $$ for good fertilizer instead :-D

Good to know! I'll have to send those links to my mom!

Cool Lisa!  I find gardening, like cooking, is part art and part science......sometimes it takes me a long time to come to definitive info, but when I stumble on concrete knowledge I like to share.  :-D

I fell for the B1 thing once, but this is the first documentation I've seen. 99% of what's in forums is myth and rumor. So thanks very much for the info and link.

Hi Lisa,

I have not used B1 in years and occasionally I get asked if someone should use it - I say sure, it can't hurt.  But I did not know the info you provided. Thank you!  So, now it will be - don't waste your money. :-)

I guess I'm not quite picturing what happened in planting the tomatos, but I will tell you what has helped me with tomatos...trench planting. Dig a trench, remove all the tomatos branches but the top few, lay the tomato plant in the trench and cover with soil, popping the top branches up to face vertically so that they are above the soil. Tomatos are opportunistic rooters, so they will establish a strong root system and ultimately grow into bigger plants. this is always hard for me to that first big pruning cut on the fruit trees, but it pays off.


Another thing that an experienced gardener told me to do for plants that have transplant shock is to make willow water and pour that on the plant and roots. You can do this by finding a willow tree, getting some leaves, chopping them up with a knife and steeping them in cold water overnight. then strain out the willow leaves (or not) and pour the liquid on the plants. I have not tried this myself, but it is totally organic and willow water is used as a natural rooting hormone for rooting cuttings, so I can see how this would be benificial for transplant shock. Tomatos are pretty tough, so they will probably do fine.

Just lost some feeder roots in the transplant. Check your soil pH, make sure it is not too high and things will be fine after a few days.

Hi Michael,

Basically what Karis and Mable describe.  If the plant does not perk up in a couple of days, but still has health stems, you can try my Green RX therapy. 

When the roots are damages as Mable indicates, they suddenly can't take up water.  You can dig up the plants, get a bucket of water and gently wash off the dirt. Place in a bucket of clean water and nip the very tip of several roots per plant "under water" place the bucket in indirect light.  In Most Cases - the plants will perk back up again within a week, you can then transplant them in the original holes - even using Karis' suggestion of planting most the plant horizontally in a trench, with the top 5/6 inches above ground, and the plants should take off for you.

This "therapy" has worked for me even with large shrubs and works most of the time.

I didn't really follow the post...german paste? The plants fell into a hole?

At any rate, for what it's worth, I lost a tomato once when planted with store bought compost. The compost wasn't composted enough and burned the roots. The plant wilted right away and died in a week or so.

I just bought some of these plants from the Costco as well.  They are quite large.  They had several varieties, including some called "german johnson" and "amish paste" -- michael was probably refering to one of these. 

I am confused about how to plant, since the 14" pot comes with a single cage and three plants in the pot.  I can see how they could "fall apart" into three plants when placing in the hole.  Not sure what to do.  Should I plant all three together or try to separate?  How far apart should I plant them?  I would like to bury at least part of the plant, but they are already quite mature  and are flowering.  Also I am not sure how well the stalk will bend if I lay the plants sideways in a trench.

Tips on how to proceed would be appreciated.  I am a novice gardener. 

Personally, I would separate the plants.  Otherwise, they're just going to compete with each other, and not live up to their full potential.  I planted my tomatoes in the fall using the tomato planting instructions from this site, and I was very pleased with the result.


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