What's wrong with my plant? (Pic)

KillrBuckeyeMay 24, 2012

I'm trying to grow tomato plants in pots. I'm relatively new at this (I got a late start last summer), so I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I have an Early Girl in one pot, and a Better Boy in another. These were good-sized seedlings when I transplanted them. The Early Girl seems to be doing pretty well--7-8 flowers are currently opening up. The Better Boy seems to be struggling a bit. It has definitely grown some, but it doesn't look very healthy and only has 1 flower open and a few others that are days away. The leaves are curled up and have blotchy colors--shades of drak green, light green, and yellow. Any ideas what's causing this? In terms of water, if anything they've had too much. Could over-watering cause this? Thanks in advance for any information you can give me.

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davidtigerfan

Loks like a nutrient deficiency. I believe purple = lake of phosphorous.

Yep:

Purple leaves:
Leaves with purple veins and overall purplish tint. Early season, cool temperatures. No insects present Phosphorus deficiency

Put some tomato fertilizer on with a higher 2nd number. (Like 10-10-10, but rather 3-7-3 or something)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:29AM
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Djole(6)

There seems to be a bit of everything involved here - mainly stress, accompanied by over-watering and possibly nutrient uptake problems. Can you tell us what were/are the daily highs and lows?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:32AM
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KillrBuckeye

Thanks for the replies. These plants are in potting soil and I did not fertilize until 5 days ago (they were planted for ~2 weeks before the fertilizer was applied). I used 12-12-12 organic fertilizer and applied according to the instructions (1/3 cup on surface of soil, watered thoroughly). I thought that the potting soil had enough organic material to sustain the plants and fertilizing might not even be necessary, but after seeing the plants do poorly I decided to fertilize.

The weather during the first 2 weeks after transplant was relatively cool: highs 65-72F, lows 38-50F. On most nights when the temperature dropped close to 40 I moved the plants into the garage. There was one night when it got much colder (38F) than what was forecasted and they were left outside.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:50AM
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suncitylinda

LIquid ferts are much sooner available to plants, especially growing in containers. I always keep some fish and seaweed liquids on hand.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 10:29AM
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Djole(6)

That temperature mostly explains it. Even 2 consecutive cold days can lead to plant showing symptoms of nutrient deficiency because uptake is inhibited by low soil temperature. Its ok that you've fertilized, but keep in mind that the deficiency you are dealing with is not caused by the lack of nutrients in the soil.
What's the weather forecast for the upcoming days? Since you can move the containers, i'd put them inside whenever it gets to 50 or lower. Don't fertilize them for awhile, don't water them until the soils dries out a bit (presuming it has proper drainage), and don't prune anything yet. Once it gets warmer (57-58 and up), uptake should be fine and your plants will get better.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 12:15PM
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KillrBuckeye

Thanks for the response and reassurance! Good news is that the 7-day forecast shows highs ranging from high 70s to 90F, and it's not supposed to drop below 56. I guess I was too eager to get them planted this year!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 1:03PM
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momof5sons

This picture looks exactly some of my tomato plants. I was concerned that they had a fungus so I pulled off all the lower leaves that looked like this. Oh well. I am wondering what organic stuff could I use to get phosphorous to my plants. Isn't the 10-10-10 stuff not organic?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 1:40PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

The three numbers in a fertilizer description tell you the amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (otherwise known by the chemical symbols N-P-K). Note that the three elements are in alphabetical order: that's how to remember which is which.

The numbers refer to the percentage of each element in the fertilizer. So a 10-10-10 fertilizer has the same balance as a 3-3-3 fertilizer -- but the first has more of each and so would probably cost more. 70% of the first and 91% of the second are something other than N, P, and K.

As for why plants need these elements, here's what BHG has to say:
http://www.bhg.com/advice/gardening/basics/what-do-nitrogen-phosphorus-and-potassium-that-are-contained-within-fertilizers-do-for-plants/

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 2:16PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

momof5sons: Sorry, I forgot to explain the bit about organic fertilizer.

Whether or not the fertilizer is organic depends on what the manufacturer used to make it. Some 10-10-10 fertilizers are organic, others are not.

Here's a thread on the Organic Gardening forum which talks about organic sources of phosphorus.
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/organic/msg0216391932711.html

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:01PM
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