Sudden decline of tomatoes

jenintasOctober 22, 2005


I am hoping that someone may be able to help me with what seems to be a pretty severe problem. I have a number of seedling tomatoes which are just about ready to be planted out. They have been growing well, and have been outside under plastic for about a week during the day. I brought them inside on Friday afternoon, as it was getting wet and a bit cool, and they have been inside since then (it's now the wee hours of Sunday morning). They all looked fine this afternoon, but last evening I noticed one plant looking a bit limp at the top. Over the next few hours it (and several others) have pretty much collapsed. The side shoots seem to be curling down and inwards, so that the ends are pointing at the main stem, and the leaves are progressively curling up at the sides. The stems appear to be discoloured (a sort of purple), and there seem to be lighter patches where the side shoots join on. There are no spots or yellowing. I have had a look at the problem solving site, and the only condition that looks vaguely like what I have is phosphorous deficiency, but I wouldn't have thought that that would cause such a dramatic decline, and the leaves aren't purple.

I would be most grateful for any suggestions.



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cthomato(z10 CA)

It sounds like your plants are wilting from the bottom up. This is classic symptom of overwatering. Maybe when you brought them in you blocked the drainage holes. I had that happen to a plant I had in a large pot. I didn't realize I was drowning it until I picked it up and whoosh! If that's the case then there's not a lot you can do except hope the plant recovers.

If it was underwatering, I would expect to see the edges of the plant drop first. Then the plants would recover quickly with a watering. The plants aren't yellow so they're getting enough sunlight.

Too much fertilizer can kill seedlings too. And one last idea: maybe they were exposed to cleaning chemicals, pet urine (cat) or some other toxic agent.

I hope this helps,


    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 6:58PM
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Hello Chris

I am doubtful about whether it was overwatering, as I am pretty careful with the water, having done the drowning thing myself before. They haven't had any extra fertilizer - hadn't considered the cat option, which is a possibility.

Today some of the leaves are looking a bit shrivelled just on the tips, while others are somewhat curled. Overall the plants don't look any worse than they did last night, so maybe they will pick up. I'm a bit hesitant of planting them out if they do have some sort of disease though. I am keeping them separate from the others just in case.

Thank you for your help


    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 12:32AM
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