Tomato wilting for no apparent reason

jemsister(7)May 1, 2013

Hey, I have a smallish tomato plant that I bought at Lowe's and transplanted into a fresh raised bed with brand new, never been planted soil. It's been doing well for the last five days, but today it is wilty. First it was just one branch that was wilted. But now some of the other leaves are also wilting. I am watering at the roots and keeping the leaves dry, and the soil is moist but not soggy. There are a couple of miniscule spots on one leaf, so I removed it for a photo. The spots don't really show up well, but there are about four of them, and they are a faded greenish-yellow color. Does this look or sound like any kind of disease thing? Or does my tomato need more or less water? I'm a novice, so I have no clue what I'm doing. But part of me is wishing I'd gone with a local nursery and not Lowe's...

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

My fist impression was powdery mildew given all the gray mold-appearing spots in the pic but that could be just the photo itself. Look up

Otherwise, wilting for no apparent reason is almost always root related ie: root rot due to overly wet soil. There is no need for the soil to be moist all the time. Tomato plants need only 1-1 1/2 inches total of water a week and letting the soil dry out some between waterings is fine.

Over-watering kills 10x as many plants as under-watering so when in doubt, don't water. See if cutting back on your watering doesn't let the plant perk up. If it doesn't then I'd be concerned with other forms of root damage.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato powdery mildew pics

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 3:14PM
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jemsister(7)

Update: The leaves are starting to curl slightly, and one of them is developing more of those same spots. Also, the plant has a strange brownish undertone to its color. Hard to explain, but it looks odd. I will attempt to get a picture of it. Not sure my camera will pick up the color, but I think I can get the spots at least.

The powderyness is definitely a photo issue, since IRL the plant does not look powdery at all. I haven't been watering just in case. I checked the moisture of the soil all the way to the bottom of the box near the tomato, and it is just moist and not at all soggy. I'm trying to be careful about not overwatering, since I know tomatoes are not very forgiving when it comes to that. But being a novice, I'm still trying to feel that out and find the balance.

How do you gauge what 1 inch of water is in practical terms? I was using a plastic bottle with holes poked in the bottom for watering, since I don't have a soaker hose. It's a gallon sized bottle...

Anyway, I'm just going to let it be for now and see if it perks up. It hasn't been especially warm lately, and it's getting its first real good dose of sun in the last several days. Hopefully that will perk it up a bit.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 3:44PM
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jemsister(7)

Here's a pic of the spots.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 3:55PM
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jemsister(7)

And a pic of the discoloration of the leaves and stems.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 4:01PM
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jemsister(7)

Hmm, not lookin' too good for my tomato!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 6:40PM
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jemsister(7)

Well, several of my friends think that it looks like frost damage. We had a freeze last night, and although the tomato was covered, I think it wasn't insulated enough. I didn't realize we had a freeze until later this afternoon when someone mentioned it. This is a more recent pic of my tomato.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 12:00AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

The yellow discoloration is likely due to herbicide, (weed killer) even though inadvertent.

Any chance glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup and related products) have been used anywhere nearby? By you or someone else?

The white appears to be environmental stress.

This post was edited by jean001a on Thu, May 2, 13 at 22:52

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 7:51PM
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jemsister(7)

I haven't used herbicide anywhere, I just weed by hand rather than using chemicals. So if it's anything like that, it's either something they used at the store, or something in the potting soil I bought.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:44PM
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jemsister(7)

So honest opinion, guys. In a situation like this, where I've had to virtually strip the plant down to the stems because all the leaves were damaged... at this point, should I try to let it make a comeback? (it's not dead, and some of the tiny "newborn" leaves are attempting to get bigger and so forth) Or does it make more sense in the long run to go out and buy a new plant and pull this one? I'm sure it's not diseased because there's no spread of any kind. The damage being what it was, my plant looks like this now. I had to take off everything, it was all damaged. I read to take off the damaged parts so the plant could focus on growing healthy new stuff. However, I wasn't clear on whether or not to also take the stems, so I just took those too. Honestly, I didn't expect it to fight for its life. I should add that the edges of these tiny leaves were also slightly damaged, but they looked good enough to leave on there. If I had taken them, there would have been no leaves at all, and it's my understanding that a plant needs leaves to photosynthesize (is this true?).

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 12:47PM
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007JBond

You mentioned in your first post about planting in a new bed or garden soil, I also noticed in the picture you posted, the mulch @ the base of the plant. Some mulch you buy is to hot for Tomatoes and dont ever plant in it, did you add any thing to the soil prior to planting? compost or fertilizer?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 11:22AM
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jemsister(7)

007jbond, sorry that I missed your post! The mulch was mixed into the soil that I bought, so not really applied on top. But it is a dark looking soil, so maybe it could be too hot? It doesn't get very hot here in Northwestern Washington, but dark still absorbs most of the sun's rays. The soil, BTW, was Miracle Grow garden soil mixed with some top soil (worked out to be about 60% potting soil and 40% topsoil). I added coffee grounds to the soil before planting--someone told me that was good for tomatoes.

The good news, though, is that the tomato is making a comeback! From being that tiny little stem that I had trimmed it down to, now it looks like this. =) I'm hoping that it will do okay and still produce well. I think my beans have a virus, my four year old oregano died, and my radishes didn't turn out... I hope this year isn't a total bust! =P

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 12:23PM
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jemsister(7)

I'm not sure how to post more than one pic per post...

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 12:27PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

I suggest you get a soil test at your local agricultural center. Miracle Gro produces some nasty soils. I love the texture of it, but I've found big clumps of white stuff in it, rocks and even glass in their potting soil. Do you get water on the leaves? They don't like that. Maybe it got too cold. It should come back. Is there drainage in your container? The don't like wet feet.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 3:27PM
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