How come my pumpkin and cucumber plants are wilting?

the_gardener_1998July 15, 2009

How come my pumpkin and cucumber plants started wilting after i watered them instead of before? I also have a question about my tomatoes that I planted Memorial weekend. I only have 2 tomatoes growing so far but my neighbor planted thier tomatoes a couple weeks after i planted mine and their plants are full of tomatoes, why is that?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

There are various reasons plants wilt, and since you are the only one who knows the nitty gritty details about the type of soil you have, how often you water, how deeply you water, etc., all we can do is suggest possible causes and you'll have to evaluate your plants and practices and figure out which one it is.

First of all, it has been exceptionally hot and the sunlight is very intense at this time of year, so heat stress is a possibility. If your plants wilt during the heat of the day and then begin to perk up in the late evening around sunset, then heat stress is the likely culprit.

Secondly, if you are watering very heavily and have heavy soil containing a lot of clay, you could be overwatering. Plants that are too wet will wilt the same way that plants that are too dry will wilt. Check your soil by sticking your finger down in it. If it is sopping wet, you may be overwatering for the type of soil that you have.

Third, if you have very fast-draining sandy soil, you may be underwatering. For pumpkins, you want to water deeply because their roots can go quite deeply.

Fourth, it could be one of the bacterial diseaeses spread by insects. If so, you should be seeing some discoloration on the leave and also you'll see some wilted leaves that don't recover overnight.

Fifth, it could be squash vine borers on the pumpkins and, more rarely but occasionally, on the cucumbers as well.

With the tomatoes, we don't know enough about their plants and your plants to know why their plants are producing tomatoes and yours are not. There are a lot of possibilities, including the following:

DAYS TO MATURITY: Different Varieties Have Different "Days To Maturity": Every tomato variety has different days to maturity and it varies wildly. If it takes your variety 80 days to mature, and theirs 60 days to mature, they could be part of it. It is more complicated than that though. The recommended planting dates for spring tomato plants in Oklahoma are April 10-30, so you planted at least a month late, and that really matters with some varieties, though not as much with others.

SIZE OF PLANTS: It could be you set out a younger, smaller plant that wasn't physically ready to bloom and their plant was older and closer to being ready to bloom. It could be their plant had already formed blooms while at the wholesaler or retailer.

TYPE OF PLANT: Y'all may have different types of plants....theirs could be an inderminate that sets fruits all along as it grows, and yours could be a determinate that sets a lot of fruit at once. Theirs could be a cherry, grape, currant or small pear-sized type of tomato and yours might be a full-sized large slicing type. If so, the large tomatoes have trouble setting fruit (see 'pollination' paragraph below) in higher temperatures than the smaller ones do.

POLLINATION ISSUES: In general, most large, slicing-type tomatoes will bloom and form fruit only as long as daytime highs remain below about 92 degrees (up to 95 degrees for some varieties) and nightime lows remain below 72-75 degrees, but above 55 degrees. So, depending on where your plants and their plants were grown by the wholesaler and kept by the retailer, that could account for the difference. When I buy plants, I like to buy them early in the season when they haven't been sitting outside baking on hot concrete sidewalks, parking lots, etc. Once temperatures are high, the pollen inside the flowers loses viability and blossoms will form, fail to pollinate, and fall off. Once again, different varieties perform better at different temperatures. It could be that theirs don't mind the hotter temps as much as yours do.

TOO MUCH NITROGEN: If your plants are lush, green, and have tons of foliage but are failing to flower and set fruit, there is a good possibility they've been overfed nitrogen. When plants get too much nitrogen, they make leaves and don't make fruit.

Tomato varieties are highly variable and even two or more plants of the exact same variety will not peform exactly the same. I planted 85 tomato plants representing about 45 or 50 varieties and no two of them have behaved the same. Some have produced tons of tomatoes while others haven't formed a single fruit. Some made a lot of tomatoes early on and we are already harvesting those tomatoes while other plants have only recently formed fruit.

So, without knowing which variety each of you planted, and the size and age that each was at planting time and the soil they're in and the amount they've each been fed and watered, it is impossible to guess just why their plants are setting fruit and yours are not, but it is most likely...if I had to make a blind guess...related to the variety and the weather.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 10:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


The property i live on is all sand! so my garden is planted in sand, I water every 2-4 days depending on if its still wet and i water at least 4-8" down. The last time i watered my garden was yesterday.

I went out to my garden this afternoon and the plants were wilted and then i went outside this evening around sunset and the plants were still wilted! I dont know what im supposed to do!

I am not seeing any discoloration in the pumpkin leaves. so thats a good thing, right?

The tomatoes that i planted were "big boys" and "jet star" and i think my neighbor's tomatoes are "big boys" too.

My tomatoes have tons of foliage and tons of flowers so as you can tell they arent failing to flower! But they are failing to produce fruit. I only have 2 tomatoes out of 11 or 12 plants.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 12:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Today or tomorrow, if not sooner, go to a big box store, farm or nursery and buy a water soluable bloom booster type plant food and feed it to your plants. It will encourage more flowers and the flowers have a very good chance of setting fruit during this cool spell that is just now arriving. There are several brands of bloom boosters. I recently purchased and used Green Light Super Bloom at Lowe's, but Miracle Grow and Fertilome and many other companies make bloom boosters too.

The pumpkins are thirsty and it has to be because your soil drains so quickly. Let me think about a solution. The ultimate solution long-term in to work tons of organic material into your soil so it will hold water longer.

If the pumpkin leaves are green, the chances are lower that they have a disease.

Do your wilted leaves perk up overnight?

And, by the way, Big Boy can set late. I've had Big Boy set fruit in August when our high temps were in the 105-112 range, there was no rain, and humidity was low.

I still think the tomatoes likely have too much nitrogen and water, but it is hard to say since I can't see your soil or plants. I just know that lush plants with few tomatoes usually result from the combination of late planting, high temps, and too much water, food or both.

If you feed a bloom booster today or tomorrow, your plants will have time to flower and set fruit while temps are cooler so consider this cold front to be your "window of opportunity" to get good fruitset on the plants.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 9:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I will have to make a trip to Lowe's and get some super bloom. Does the Green Light Super Bloom work pretty good or does the other stuff work better?

Some of my pumpkin leaves are green and some of them are yellow-green.

Some of the wilted leaves peked up and some of them are still wilted.

My tomatoes were bunched up when we I first planted them but I pulled a few out that werent growing very well so that might be the problem.

Thank you for your help!


    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 2:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


The Green Light has a higher phosphorous value, the middle number of N-P-K, and therefore will promote blooming a bit more than the ones with lower values.

Having said that, I used MG Super Bloom on Monday or Tuesday, because it was what I had.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 2:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Okay then I will have to make sure to get the Green Light stuff instead of the others.

Did it help with anything?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 3:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Sorry I put the wrong name on the message that i just posted, I thought you were Dawn because we were talkin about the Green Light! Sorry!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 5:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh no worries.

You can tell our posts apart because Dawn's are timely, well thought out and accurate. I generally suffer from none of those. Heh.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 6:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


When you use the Super Bloom, you should see more blooms within a few days. If Super Bloom won't push plants into blooming, then something odd is going on because I believe its N-P-K ratio is 12-55-6, so that 55 means it is very high in phosphorus.

If you can't find Super Bloom, use whichever bloom booster type fertilizer you can find. The key is to apply it ASAP so the flowers that form will be able to pollinate/fertilize and set fruit before the temperatures go too high again. This week's "cold front" is a huge blessing because it (a) gives us a break from the heat, (b) gives us the temperatures we need for tomato plants to set fruit.

If you wait 3 or 4 days from now to feed the plants the bloom booster, by the time flowers form, it likely will be too hot again for the pollen to be viable. When you're trying to "force" a plant to bloom in certain temperatures by manipulating it via a fertilizer application in mid-summer, timing the fertilizer just before or at the start of the cold front is the key to success.

OKfella used MG Super Bloom and it is a perfectly good bloom booster too.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 7:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dawn & Okfella,

Thanks again. I went to walmart and bought some bloom booster (cheap) and tomarrow morning i will put it on the tomatoes and then start watering it.

Thanks for all the advice!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 11:45PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
How can I add photos to my posts?
I know many of you do this....I have tried to find...
Calvert Landscape did a great job at my house
Scott Calvert is now on speed dial on my phone. He...
Bad weather
Nasty weather out there, be safe.
AmyinOwasso/zone 6b
Intercropping Tomatoes
with Sweet corn? Is it doable? with so many tomato...
My Onions Are IN, now about snakes...
Thank you, Ms Dawn. Sorry for the late reply to your...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™