Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

When Tomatoes See Red

20150530For reasons still somewhat unclear, certain colors can help stimulate the growth of tomatoes… and that includes the color red. It is believed that this effect comes from the color reflecting a specific spectrum of light to the plant, which in turn triggers photosynthesis… and of course, photosynthesis boosts growth, increases yields, and stimulates faster maturation. So if you spread the red plastic mulch under tomato plants, they’ll grow better with more numerous fruits that will ripen faster than those of tomatoes grown in bare soil.

Of course, part of this effect comes from the fact that plastic mulch of any color warms the soil and therefore also stimulates faster growth, especially in cool climates. Still, red plastic mulch gives better results than black plastic mulch or transparent mulch.

Red plastic mulch has also been tested with success on other fruit-bearing vegetables: melons, peppers, squash, cucumbers, etc., even strawberries (which aren’t vegetables, after all). All bear more, better and earlier with a red plastic mulch, at least when compared to bare soil. In increase in yield of 20% is often stated… although that depends on local conditions.

You can readily find red plastic mulch specifically for tomatoes on the market. If it’s not available locally, try Lee Valley Tools and Harris Seeds, just two of many mail order sources.

20150530BWhat? Red is just not your color? In that case, more recent studies show that the blue plastic mulch is even more effective than red plastic mulch. However, it is difficult to find blue plastic mulch on the market. Harris Seeds is one of the rare places that does offer it.

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

2 comments on “When Tomatoes See Red

  1. Deborah B.

    The blue looks like a blue tarp. Is that what it is out is it something else?

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