Hydroponic Tomatoes have Wilted

I have been growing hydroponic tomatoes in a fairly well lit shed in pots, and now they're about 18 inches high. I've moved them out into the garden because of the good weather, but all the leaves have wilted and shriveled up. Is this because the sun is too much for them? And will they survive if I leave them out there now?

Answer: There are a number of reasons why your tomatoes may have wilted. They could have been exposes to temperatures that were too high, or they could have been given fertilizer that was too strong. Sometimes pesticide treatments can cause many leaves to shrivel up and die (especially when sprayed while under bright light). However, the most likely explanation in your case would be the difference in the light level from the shed to outdoors.

Many plants tend to grow leaves that are either suited for low light levels, or suited to high light levels. If moved slowly from low light to high light, with increasing exposure each day, most plants can adapt without any leaf die-off. However, when they are moved quickly from a low light condition to a high light condition, the leaves are not prepared to cope with the lightening fast action of the chlorophyll being driven by the sun. The leaves tend to burn up every available carbohydrate in the leaf tissue before it is able to replace them, giving the leaf nothing upon which to sustain itself. The result, as you are experiencing, is shriveled up leaves and leaf die-off.

If there really was a good amount of light in your shed to begin with, the shock might not be so severe as to kill your plants. They will probably survive. I suggest buying a B1 supplement and watering them with plain water and B1. B1 helps to revive plants, and increases the cell division rate. This will help your plants bounce back more quickly. Until they do, I recommend giving them less fertilizer during their feedings. Depending on the amount of damage, you may want to cut it in half for the next two weeks. If the damage has not killed your plants, they should begin growing new leaves fairly quickly.

Hopefully this occurred early enough in the growing season for your hydroponic tomatoes to bounce back and still produce a decent crop. Again, this will partly depend on the amount of damage to begin with. I hope everything works out for you, and Happy Growing!

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