Can Tomato Plants Recover from Frost Damage?

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Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) flourish in warm weather conditions. Therefore, whenever they encounter frosts, it can cause ruin to their stems, fruits, even wear out their leaves. But can tomato plants recover from frost damage?

Yes, tomato plants will probably recover if the damage isn’t severe, that is, if it only affected the leave’s outer edges. If that’s the case, move the plants to a frost-free location if they’re in containers, and cover them with sheets of fabric if you feel that more frost is on the way.

This article will give you the answers you seek and discuss other vital related questions about tomato plants and frost damage, signs of frost damages in tomatoes, and how to save your tomatoes from frost.

Let’s get started!

Can Tomato Plants Recover from Frost Damage?

Tomatoes are tender plants that cannot endure a heavy frost, but plants that are not severely affected by frost may recover.

Tomatoes are usually grown as annual plants and can grow year-round in United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 11.

Unfortunately, young tomato plants are particularly vulnerable to freezing weather. Some of the critical signs of frost damages in tomatoes include sunken leaf spots that are yellowish-brown, soft and discolored leaves and stems, etc.

At temperatures of 40°F and below, tomato plant stems, leaves, and fruits will suffer damage; however, you can save the plants by protecting them from further frosts, and that is by moving them to a frost-free area if they’re potted and covering them with a piece of fabric.

You may also have to immediately spray them with water and cut down the frozen parts to enable them to recover.

Now, without further ado, we will briefly highlight the factors that will enable you to indicate or how you can diagnose frost in your tomatoes.

Signs of Frost Damages in Tomatoes

There are several symptoms that you can discover whenever your tomatoes experience frost damages.

Some of the notable signs include the following:

  1. Wilting: This is the most common determining symptom of frost-damaged tomatoes.
  2. Leaf discoloration: Whenever you discover that the leaves are experiencing discoloration, be it the brown, tan or black color, it is a sign that it’s damaged from frost. And like we mentioned earlier, if the discoloration only appears on the outer edges of the leaves, then the tomatoes can survive the frost damage.
  3. Yellow/purple color: You will also notice yellow or purple color marks below the leaves
  4. Discolored stems: You will discover that the stems have not just softened but have also discolored
  5. Sagging: The tomato plant itself will sag to the ground

How To Help Tomatoes to Recover from Frost Damage

As we have discussed earlier, there’s still a chance that you can save your tomatoes from frost.

They can recover from the frost, given that the damage is not too disastrous or severe. The most notable ways of saving them are as follows;

  1. You need to spray the plants with water immediately. The spraying should be done before the early sunrise, as it will help melt the frost and help it recover.
  2. After spraying the water and you discover that the frost has settled or melted, your following action should be pruning the affected leaves off of mature plants using gardening shears coated in rubbing alcohol.
  3. Another way of saving your tomatoes from frost is by pinching the leaf stems, the area the plant tissue meets the frostbitten pieces, as it will help avoid subsequent and additional spread of rot and damage already done.
  4. Also, endeavor to establish a good atmosphere that will prevent them from experiencing subsequently frozen temperatures that will make them frost and damage so that they can ripen properly. Hence, the need to be ready in advance if you happen to face potential poor weather conditions that are detrimental to your garden.

Note: With the use of a weather app or website that shows historical temperature data, you can detect temperatures of the potential risk to your plants.

How To Protect Tomato Plants from Frost Damage

Can Tomato Plants Recover from Frost Damage

Prevention, they say, is better than cure. It’s essential to be knowledgeable as to know what to do to protect your tomatoes from potential frost damages. Below are the protective measures to avert this disastrous situation.

  1. You can protect them by laying covers. Be mindful of removing these cover materials, as they can burn the plants if the temperature gets hotter than 40F during the day.
  2. Through the use of old newspapers
  3. You can protect them by covering them with blankets. Meanwhile, once these blankets become wet, you’ve to note that they trap cold air, which worsens the frost effect; hence, you must be alert to constantly change or dry them when you discover any wet signs.
  4. If you opt to cover them with any of the above materials, you have to ensure it’s been laid around the tomato plants before sunset and ensure it doesn’t touch the plant. 
  5. Also, water the plants properly before covering, and let it be done all through frost the season.
  6. You can also protect them by planting a shelterbelt around the garden to protect them from cold wind.

Final Thoughts

Whenever you discover any symptom of frost damage, be it discolored leaves, wilting, or some others in your tomato plants, do not be too frightened because they tend to recover on their own sometimes. 

All you need to do is watch them closely and avoid showing so much care for them, as you can risk damaging them. Ensure you water the tomato plants as often as possible, as it also keeps them safe from frost.

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