Ends of my tomato plant are turning yellow

loveisblind1May 26, 2012

I have a beefsteak tomato plant and the ends of the branches are turning yellow, sometimes meaning that some of the flowers are turning yellow and drying off. It really only seems to be affecting the parts where the branches end plus some a small amount of leaves. What could it be?

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

Sorry but it could be many things. We'd really need to see a picture and have many more details to begin to ID the problem with any accuracy. What zone are you in, is the plant in ground or in a container, how old is it, how big, how often and what have you fed it, how much do you water it, is it your only plant, is it older leaves near the bottom or new leaves near the top turning yellow, etc. etc.

Flowers dying and falling off is normal if they aren't pollinated. Yellowing leaves is not normal.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 4:15PM
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Here is a picture:

Shot at 2012-05-26

I am in zone 10. Its in a container and I'm not sure how old it is since I bought this fully grown. It started to set a good amount of fruit. 13-15. I gave it plant food a couple days ago but this problem started before I gave the food. I check the soil daily and water twice a day. But I try to make sure I'm not overwatering it. Only the bottom leaves are really turning yellow. The ends that are getting yellow are mostly ones with flowers on it.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 5:45PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

Hello loveis,

The blossoms dieing and falling off means the flowers were not pollinated. That could be because of high temperatures or humidity, both of which will affect successful pollination. Also, if the plant does not get enough water to support the growth of a new tomato, it will die like that to allow the plant to support the tomatoes it is already growing. (Nature is funny that way.)

Container plants will need watering more often than tomatoes in the ground, probably 2 - 3 times daily or more often in times of high temperatures. Dig down with your finger about 3-4", is the growing medium wet, dry, or just right? If it is wet, don't water, if dry then water. If it is just right, check again later or the next day. If the medium is very dry, normal watering may have no effect on it, the water will just run off the top and down the sides of the container then out the drainage hole(s). In that case a slower delivery method is needed to allow the growing medium to absorb the water. That is the principle behind those glass watering globes you see advertised. You can slow the delivery down by taking a large plastic container (a gallon milk jug, or even a 2-liter bottle, you'd just have to repeat more with a smaller container) and make a very small hole in the bottom so that it just drips and place it in your planter and fill it up. Repeat as needed until the growing medium is thoroughly moistened throughout the container.

Mulching the top of your container with compost, straw, hay, rotted leaves, grass clippings, even shredded paper or sheets of paper or cardboard helps maintain a consistent moisture level.

Plants that are grown in any kind of container will need feeding more often than plants that are grown in the ground because each time they are watered, the water run off carries away vital nutrients. Many container growers will use a dilute solution of a liquid fertilizer every week or two depending on the condition of the plant.

I don't know how big that container is, but most people consider anything less than 5 gallons as way too small, others say 10 or more for a plant that size. The larger the container, the less you'd have to water. Something to bear in mind for next time.

I hope that helps.


Here is a link that might be useful: Container Gardening Forum

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 6:02PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Good info from Betsy. That is one sad looking plant, heavily stressed and likely root bound in that small pot. What you are seeing on the plant is a result of that stress and the roots dying. And right now it is just trying to stay alive rather than set fruit.

But it is too bug to transplant now so about all you can do is some pruning to reduce the demands of the plant on the small amount of water and nutrients it can get from the pot and try to baby it along until at least some of the fruit begins to ripen and can be picked.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Thanks Betsy for all the good info! I guess I'll try to place the tomatoes near where the bees are. And Dave, do you think it'll die if I transplant it to a bigger pot? If I carefully cut away the plastic caging and repot it?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 12:20AM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Cut off all the nasty stuff,and the bottom 10 inches of foliage and repot into 5-10 gallon container with drain holes,and well draing potting MIX .Water well and then start watering when needed ,Larger container will not need watering two times a day,(dont water log )after a week ot so try low strenghth fertilizer
No need to move by bees ,they are not needed .

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 1:16AM
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If you decide to try and transplant it, if you can get someone to help you, it will be much easier on the plant. And give it a few days in the shade to recoup.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 2:32AM
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Thanks everyone. I'll have help to replant it. Wish me luck! I'll take dickiefickle's and suncity's advice. I may post back later after the transplant. =)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 6:08AM
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I had a tomato plant that was stressed out like this and had way overgrown its pot. I removed the plant from its pot, teased out a few of the tangled roots, repotted into a larger container, and then gave it a dose of Fish Emulsion, both foliar and systemic. This helps reduce transplant shock. It recovered very, very well and has continued to grow and produce tomatos. It did look a bit droopy for a couple of days and then took off.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 3:05PM
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Susan, I hope my transplant does well! I just transplanted it. Unfortunately, my fiancee tried to put in a cage without my permission and bent and ruined one of the stalks. So I'm left with just two. =( I'll give it some fish emulsion and will hope for the best!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 1:49AM
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