Help! Bottom Leaves Curling On My Tomato Plants

KerenR(7)May 6, 2012

I am pretty new to gardening, and I noticed yesterday that the top 3/4 of my tomato plants look healthy, but the bottom leaves are curling. Someone told me this could be tomato leaf curl? Plants are in full sun with no shade at all. I have been watering twice a week because I have basil and marigold seeds in the ground. Temps have been between 60-90 F. Now, I did spread out some Garden Tone a few days ago. I couldn't walk between my plants because the seeds haven't sprouted. Maybe some hit the leaves? But my peppers are in the same area and aren't doing this at all...I know this plant looks leggy, but the rest of my plants don't so much. I've got 6 varieties of tomatoes out there. Any thoughts? Here is a link to a picture of it if that will help:

Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of tomato plant

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

Tomato leaf roll. "Curl", curling from leaf tip toward the stem, even though some use the terms interchangeably is usually associated with a tomato disease and that is not what you have.

As I mentioned on your other post, It is called 'tomato leaf roll'. Googling that term gets you lots of pics and info and I was going to link some previous discussions here about it but most of them have fallen off the board. Here is one good link but there are many others too avaible via Google.

Basically it is a physiological response of the plant to stress but poses to real threat to the plant over all. Once the source of the stress goes away so does the condition.

The causes of stress can be as simple as the fact that it is young and growing or as complicated as poor soil drainage problems, excess nitrogen fertilizer, too much or too little water, etc. Over-watering is listed as the most common cause so I would focus on eliminating that issue first.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Bets(z6A S ID)


As Dave said, leaf roll is a sign of stress and the most common cause is too much water.

Even though the soil surface looks dry, clay soil generally does not drain well, and can even act like a tub if you have amended a hole for planting. Have you checked soil moisture 3-5" below the surface?

GardenWebber sprouts_honor (Jennifer from Cleveland) had a wonderful suggestion on how to tell whether or not you need to water your tomatoes, and I quote here: "Get a wooden dowel rod (or two) and sink it in the ground near a plant or two and leave it. Pull it out when you think you need to water. If the top is dry and the bottom is a little damp, it's time to water. If it looks dark and feels saturated, wait to water. I use this technique with potted plants that don't like being over watered and it's helpful with in ground plants too."

I find that is a simple way to monitor the moisture level in the soil where it counts, at root zone. You don't say how long it's been since you planted the basil and marigold seeds, but I think they should have sprouted by now. You may need to mist the soil surface 2-3 times a day to get them to sprout, since it looks like the surface is very dry. If you just moisten the top inch or so, it should not add any more stress your tomatoes and might germinate your other seeds. If they don't sprout, you may want to start some in some soilless potting mix and transpant them to where you want them.

As some of your FB responses noted, mulching will help even out the moisture and add organic matter to the soil. After you have pulled your plants this fall, you may want to till in some compost or well aged manure to improve the soil.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 12:08PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

Sorry, meant to include this info in my last post:

The FB posters who mentioned adding epsom salt to your water and/or soil are well intentioned, but adding chemical amendments without a soil test is usually a waste of time and money.

A Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center document about Epsom salt myths that in part states There are two reports from over 60 years ago on tomato production. When tomatoes are grown on magnesium deficient soil, a foliar application of Epsom salts can relieve magnesium deficiency in tomato plants; no effect on yield was reported. An automatic application of Epsom salts to plants or soils that are not magnesium deficient is a poor management strategy that can injure the plants and contaminate the soil.

As a matter of fact, many gardeners attempt to correct conditions their soil does not have based on old gardener's tales, and overlove their tomatoes sometimes to the point of death or no production.

Your local county extension office (in most states) can do a soil test fairly inexpensivly, or direct you to someplace you can get one. The home brew kits may be better than nothing, but usually not by much. Put the $$$ you'd spend on them towards a real test by a competent lab.


Here is a link that might be useful: WSU Article on Epsom Salt Myths

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 1:33PM
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Thank you guys so much. You have great information that will be very helpful.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 2:31PM
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Good to know! We got a couple of very rainy days last weekend and my Marglobes started rolling quite a bit from the bottom up. They aren't showing any other signs. No yellowing or spotting so I'm guessing they'll be just fine. They're in a raised bed, but it's not terribly deep so my guess is it's not draining well enough. I guess i'll try to till a little deeper next year. Or maybe I won't have to. Hopefully all the tomatoes will do that for me. Here's hoping to avoid disease so that I can plant some in the same spot next year. I don't really have anywhere else to put them.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 12:37PM
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