Help!!! Tomato leaves shriveling up

ballethelApril 13, 2008

Hello. I have recently moved to a new place. At my former house we planted tomatoes every summer for at least 4 years and they were great!!! So, now at our new place, I looked for the spot with the most sun and decided to plant the tomato plants there. I have 7 different plants. One is fairly healthy although some of the leaves look a little yellow (this never happened at our old place). The leaves on the other plants are shriveling up and instead of growing, the plants look like they are actually getting smaller. I did not grow them from seed. I thought it could be that they needed more water so I have been watering them daily and sometimes twice a day (something I also never had to do at my old place).Really I am just surprised because I was used to my tomatoes being so maintenance free, but I really want tomatoes this summer again. Maybe it is the soil, which is clay-like here and I did try to amend it a bit before planting. The plants are not dead yet, so is there anything I could do to save them?? I REALLY appreciate the help.


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Wish I had an answer for you. I have the same problem with tomatoes grown from seed. The lower leaves developed fine, but the upper ones look like they failed to unfurl. I've tried more light, more water, more fertilizer. The light may be helping a little. I too would appreciate any advice on the shriveling tomato leaf problem. I'd sure hate to lose them when it's so close to the last frost date in my area.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 4:19AM
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If you find yourself in a hole ... Stop Digging :-)

Ballethel, Clayey soil will retain moisture much longer than those more silty, loamy or sandy. Feel down in there a few inches. If its moist, back off the water. If that doesn't do it, you have other problems to address.

Gardengoodies, Could they be too close to the lights? Hows the air circulation?

I've got 2 dble tube 4' shop lights, with gro tubes, within 2-3" and the days I get to put them outside for a few hrs seems like you can watch em grow and really thickens their stems.

Too much fert can do all kinds of bad things.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 7:46AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I fear the source of both of your problems is over-watering. Yellowing leaves is too much water and leaf-roll (where the leaves look like they aren't "unfurling") can also be caused by too much water.

ballethel - tomatoes are seldom "maintenance free" ;) so you were quite lucky in the past. Now wth different soil you may have to be more careful as Dave said. At least until you have it tested and know more about its components, pH, and nutrient levels. Many things can cause plants to "shriveling up and instead of growing, the plants look like they are actually getting smaller" but excess water causes root rot and is the most common cause. Water only when your finger stuck deep into the soil is dry. When these dry out well and begin to recover, give them a mild (1/2 strength) dose of a balanced liquid fertilizer and then mulch them well. Contact your local county extension office to arrange for a soil test ASAP.

Good luck with your plants.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 9:40AM
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I agree, sounds like to much water,and if you fertlize to close to the roots,that will burn them , turn yellow, and swivell up.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 9:36PM
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THey actually look a lot better today. 3 of the plants are starting to perk up and hopefully by following your hints I can save the other 3. I have noticed other differences also. At our old place, we had raised planting beds , which really help to control temperature. I am grateful for your tips!!THanks

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 12:47AM
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yardenman(z7 MD)

Ah! If you were used to raised beds, it is really easy to overwater ground-level ones. Even regular Spring rainfall is sometimes too much. Clayey soil just holds the water better.

I deliberately grow my tomatoes under the roof overhang to control their water.

If too much water is the problem you could dig a ditch downhill and fill it with sand. It has to be as deep as the tomato roots.

That's why mine are in raised beds. ;)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 1:34AM
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Yes, I am thinking of returning to those raised planting beds next year. And it looks like you were all right about too much water!! Wish I could share my future crop with you!!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 3:55PM
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I pamper my babies and give them plenty (too much?) water and fertilizer. I guess it's time for some tough love. I'll let them dry out some between waterings and hold back the fertilizer.

I also have two shop lights and try to keep the light as close as possible without the bulbs touching the plants. I've started putting them outside for a few hours and they are looking better. I don't have the heart to ditch them, so they'll get planted however they turn out.

Thanks for the advice

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 10:29PM
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