tomato leaves curling

dorioh(7)June 14, 2011

Can you tell me what's wrong with my tomato plants? The leaves are curling and turning brown and dry.

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NO. with out pictures it would be just guessing.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 5:57PM
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Okay, I've got some pics, but can't find instructions on how to add them to my post. Help?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 6:16PM
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riceloft(5b / NE Ohio)

Upload them to a site like or

Then use the HTML link provided for each image and paste it into your post.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 6:17PM
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link to photo instructions (still need to use a photo site like, photobucker, flickr etc.)

At Flickr and photobucket they have the code for you when you upload pics. Just like Riceloft says.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 7:03PM
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Thanks - it took me awhile, but finally here's some pics. By the way, I live in Zone 7; the daytime temps right now are averaging low 60's to 70ish and night time high 40's to low 50's.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 10:22AM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

Your plants are very stressed. Google "tomato leaf curl" and you'll find lots of answers and example photos.

You don't say how low in the 40's your temperatures have been, if it is in the upper 40's, you may be OK on that score. Tomatoes can easily suffer chilling damage in the middle to lower 40's.

To be able to suggest what else (if anything) might be wrong with your plants, it would be helpful to know more about the environment it is in. So, here are the "usual" questions:

What growing medium are you using? How large is the container? Is it self-watering or do you manually water it? Is the container in full sun, part sun or shade?

How often do you water? Have you checked the moisture of the growing medium or soil 3-5" below the surface? Is it dry, just right, or soggy? Are you feeding the plant? How often? What are the NPK values of any fertilizers you are using to feed it?

The more information you can give us, the better the chances that someone can give you an accurate diagnosis.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 11:28AM
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Simply put, it's too cold for them currently. The purple tints are caused by a slowing of the uptake of phosphorous - due to cold and or wet weather.

There also appears to be some brown crispy edges on some of the leaves, which could indicate a potential fertilizer burn - that's just a guess though without some more background.

To what bets said, run through the general care of the plants and state your watering / fertilizing regime and we can make a more educated diagnosis.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 11:51AM
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I have another question, dorioh, how big were the plants when you got them and where did you buy them?

If you get really big plants from a store, then they are often in containers that are too small, they may have been over-fertilized, and the transplanting process can really stress them out.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 12:12PM
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Thank you so much for your help and suggestions; here are answers to some of your questions:

This is my second year of veggie gardening, so I've got a lot to learn. I bought established plants from a reputable nursery (I tried planting seeds indoors, but they looked awful so I caved and bought the plants); they were about 18" tall when I bought them and I planted them deep, about 4" to 5" of the stem buried. One is planted in a pot about 18" in diameter and 2' tall. The other is in a raised bed - 7" deep. I am trying the square foot garden and both plants are in the medium suggested in that book - 1/3 peat, 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite.

We are still getting quite a bit of rain here, so I am watering only when it's been dry for a day or two and the soil looks dry. I haven't been checking for moisture 3" to 5" deep, but will start doing that.

The low temps are in the mid 40's to low 50's this week, but it's starting to warm up (a BIT), so I think that low 40's is probably what they've been in at night until now. I planted them about 3 weeks ago. They are in full sun.

I haven't fertilized except when I planted them and at that time I used one from Dr. Earth labeled for veggies - the numbers are 5-7-3.

Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 1:53PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

It sounds to me like you may have a combination of lower than optimal temperatures and too much water. Personally, I'd never trust soil surface appearance for watering, I'd always check the moisture 3-5" down. If you are "still getting quite a bit of rain here, so I am watering only when it's been dry for a day or two and the soil looks dry" you are likely to be over watering the plants. Cooler weather means your plants will need less water than they do when it is warm.

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."


    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 7:35PM
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Thanks - I'm definitely going to try the wooden dowels to check water needs.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 8:18PM
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the dowel idea sounds good. how long a dowel should it be?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 11:28PM
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