Tomato plants turning yellow

LillypadlandingJune 6, 2013

I need some help with my tomato plants. Just got back from being gone for 2 weeks. The hubs was watering the garden and he said he did every day, but I came home to this. Not sure how much water he gave them every day and it hasn't been super hot in Southern California yet. Thoughts on what my problem could be? Does this look like a lack of food or water or too much water? This is my first time growing tomatoes (or much of anything) so Id love some input. Thank you.

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Stellabee(7, Atlanta)

To me, that looks like some sort of deficiency-maybe potassium?! Hope an experienced tomato grower will chime in with more exactness for you...

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:26PM
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suncitylinda

My best guess from appearances only is too much water and they need fertilizer. I live in SoCal and as you said weather has been nice. Watering in ground tomatoes daily seems excessive. Tomato plants will stop sending nutrients to lower leaves especially under the demands of setting fruit, which causes those leaves to yellow. There is a word for it, cant think of it now. Too much water can also result in yellow leaves. If you will post some info as to what fertilizer and/or amendments have been applied it will be easier for others identify the problems and corrections. As I said, I am just guessing based on looks.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:40PM
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suncitylinda

Oh, I thought that was a raised bed but now that I look at it it may be a container which would need much more watering than in ground .

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:44PM
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Lillypadlanding

These are actually in big barrels, not in ground.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:50PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Just curious. What type of mix is in the containers? And I'm assuming that there are drain holes in the barrels.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 8:20PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

They need fertilizer!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:45AM
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simmran1

Hi,

I was thinking sunscald or necrosis. I would give them some bright shade, (filtered sun) and then I would water with a kelp solution. At the link below there is a like photo naming salt damage.

edweather above asked what type of soil mix is in the barrels. Ed could be onto the problematic source, as growth seems stunted like a sterile soil with no activity.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato Problem Solver

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 5:05AM
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Lillypadlanding

I used an organic vegetable soil and added compost. i put lava rocks at the bottom for drainage. I also added an organic vegetable fertilizer when I planted them a few months ago, but haven't since. OOPS!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:07PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

"I used an organic vegetable soil and added compost."

Was it labeled soil? Did it say not to use in containers, or was it specifically for containers? When planting in a container one should use a soilless growing medium, not dirt from the yard or a bagged "garden soil" because it tends to compact in a pot and then it drains poorly and the tomato's roots will drown or suffocate and the plant will die.

"i put lava rocks at the bottom for drainage."

Bad 'Mater Parent! (Just kidding!) Unfortunately this is one of those really wrong myths that just keep on self perpetuating. Container grown plants don't need drainage substrate in the bottom, and in fact, don't want it. In every growing medium, in the ground, and in potted plantings, there is a level at which the soil's "wicking" ability to suck water upward (think about a paper towel dipped in water) balances the downward gravitational pull. This is called the perched water table. Below the perched water table, the soil is saturated with water, which can suffocate plant roots and encourage root rot. Above this level is usable soil. By adding a gravel substrate, instead of increasing drainage, you're actually moving the perched water table UP in the container, so the plant has even less room to grow. In other words, skip the rocks.

So I believe that cause of the yellowing leaves is probably poor drainage because of compaction of the growing medium and/or overwatering, both of which are very common mistakes.

Betsy

Here is a link that might be useful: Article that explains perched water tables

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 2:43PM
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redhead1987

Im not sure if its too much water. I just transplanted into the raised bed and we've had some fluctuations in temp. I just gave them food. Not sure whats going on.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 5:05PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

Redhead,

I would have contacted you offlist to suggest that you start your own thread for the problem you are having, I apologize for doing this publicly, but you don't have the option for anyone to send you an email.

Your conditions are quite different from Lillypadlanding's situation:

Lillypadlanding is using containers, your plant is in a raised bed. LPL's tomatoes have been in the containers at least two weeks, you just transplanted yours. LPL is in California (and that covers a lot of territory and zones) and we have no idea where you are or what your zone is. So...what we might suggest for LPL, might be totally wrong for your tomatoes.

I would suggest that both of you add your garden zone to your profile signature, along with a location (or a more specific one, like N CA, or SF Bay CA, since CA covers so much area.)

Redhead, if you wish, you can click on "Edit Post" in your post and remove your photo and comment, and link us to your new thread. Once you do that, we'd be happy to ask questions about your tomato and make suggestions.

Please don't think I am being mean to you, it is not my intention, but I'd like to make sure we don't confuse the situation by trying to address what may be two very different issues in the same thread.

Betsy

This post was edited by bets on Fri, Jun 7, 13 at 19:22

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 6:11PM
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Lillypadlanding

Betsy would you suggest replanting and will the plant survive that?

Also, I have large above ground planter boxes that I was told needed lava rocks for drainage, was that a mistake as well? Thank you for all of your help!

Oh, and I am in San Diego county, Vista. I tried adding my garden zone and it couldn't find my zip. I'll try again.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 7:42PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

Lily,

Normally I would not try to repot a plant that has tomatoes on it. But seeing the amount of yellowing on the leaves, it may be that you need to take drastic measures. Before you try that however, I would try one test: Get a dowel and push it down to the bottom of the container and leave if for a few hours (or even overnight) then pull it out. Check the color, if it looks dark and feels saturated, your container is water logged. The higher the saturation goes up the dowel, the less usable soil is in the pot.

If the soil is saturated, I'd repot the tomatoes. Be as gentle as you can taking them out of the planters they are in, set them aside on a tarp or plastic or in a bucket, remove the rocks and muck from the planter and fill that space with soilless growing medium, then see how much of the muck you can remove from the root ball without disturbing the roots too much. They can actually take quite a bit of abuse without a lot of problem, I routinely remove the tap root and about 1/3 of the total roots the first time I transplant with no noticeable negative effect on the tomatoes (because two or three seedlings are in a small container used for seed starting). Since your plants are already stressed out, what do you have to lose? If the plants don't make it, you can replant in your zone and still have time for tomatoes to ripen.

"Also, I have large above ground planter boxes that I was told needed lava rocks for drainage, was that a mistake as well?"

As I wrote before: "In every growing medium, in the ground, and in potted plantings, there is a level at which the soil's "wicking" ability to suck water upward (think about a paper towel dipped in water) balances the downward gravitational pull. This is called the perched water table."

A planter box has a perched water table too, if you put rocks in it, you raise the water level and cut down on the amount of usable soil. So no, you do not need lava rock in your planters, unless they are so very large you really need to cut down on the amount of growing medium needed to fill them. Personally, I'd rather go without the rocks in any event, I just might not have the container full to the top.

Betsy

This post was edited by bets on Fri, Jun 7, 13 at 22:02

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 10:00PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Normally, you should have put some coarse gravel at the bottom of the barrel and have drilled 3 or more about inch size holes ,just above the bottom. Smaller holes at the bottom(especially without gravel) might get clogged. I have seen it to happen with a 10gal plastic

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 12:58AM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

@ seysonn,

Please go to this link
Article that explains perched water tables or this one Container Drainage, or this one Myth busted: Don't put gravel in pot . Time and time again, studies have shown that it is actually detrimental to put gravel in the bottom of ANY container for growing plants. Doing so reduces the available room for roots by raising the perched water table.

Betsy

Here is a link that might be useful: Another article on gravel in pots

This post was edited by bets on Sat, Jun 8, 13 at 10:51

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 10:08AM
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