What's wrong with this plant?

wunderpit(9)July 31, 2014

Hi All,

I am having bad luck growing tomatoes in my raised bed. I have 3 plants that all somewhat look like this...slowly dying branches, yet others continue to grow up top. Barely any fruit production (my large tomato plant has ZERO).

I will admit that it has been HOT in Southern California for an extended period of time. Sprinklers run once at 3am and once at 4pm for roughly 6-7 mins each. I also have tried deep watering with a can (in addition) once per day.

Japanese eggplant, bell pepper are adjacent and both thriving. I notice a LOT of ants in the bed. It doesn't look like any hornworms are there. Originally, there were fungus gnats but they no longer are around (adults as least).

Any help??

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Is the soil drying out completely between waterings?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 3:57PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The water, nutrient, and heat-tolerance of eggplant and peppers is very different from those needs for a tomato plant. They also have different planting times - tomatoes much earlier than either of the other two.

So comparing them is as pointless as treating them equally would be. As Cara asked, is the plant being allowed to dry out some between watering? Or is it being kept overly wet all the time? Do you stick your finger down into the soil to see if water is really needed?

Daily watering is seldom needed even in the worst heat of summer so my best guess based on info so far is root rot from over watering. And daily watering plus sprinklers 2x a day? While sprinkling is never recommended as it only encourages foliage diseases

But I also note that much of the bed is not filled with soil, the sides are exposed. How deep is it?

So lots of possibilities.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:00PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Might be some kind of wilt. Get rid of bad foliage asap and spray with a fungicide. I know that always seems to be my advice, but this time of year it seems that tomato plants are susceptible to blight and wilt.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:16PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Where are you located ( zone 9 ? TX, FL, CA ???). Most leaf loss like that in container planting can be due to heat. What are your current temps ?( low to high, relative humidity ???) .
The state of existing leaves appears ok, with no indication of disease.

If you have a real well drained medium/soil, over watering should not be a problem as long as you regularly fertilize.

I would fill in more soil (potting) on top to keep the under surface roots cooler and rejuvenate them . Then I would water with weak solution of fertilizer.

As Ed suggested, go ahead and spray it with fungicide of your choice (Daconil, Neem OIl ..)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 2:14AM
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Located in Southern California (see original post). It's been extremely hot, and the top of the soil is absolutely dry by late morning every day.

I guess I'm overwatering then? I'll change the nozzle on the sprinkler as to not hit the tomatoes, and just water by hand every morning. I thought with this 95-100 degree dry weather daily that the plant wasn't getting enough water.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 2:29AM
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I strongly recommend you not water by hand every morning. You should wait at least 2-3 days between watering. The roots will rot if you keep them soaked all the time.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:22AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Stripping all the dead/dying foliage and eliminating the sprinkler is a good start. Daily watering is not a good idea. The surface of the soil is not the issue. The wetness of the soil 6-8" down is the issue. Less frequent deep watering is always better than frequent shallow watering. But that depends on how deep the bed is. So how deep is that bed??? There sure looks like there is plenty of room for a lot more soil around that plant and more soil = more water retained and less watering required.

Heavily mulching the plants is also vital to proper soil moisture retention.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Bed is 10-12" deep.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 3:13AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Bed is 10-12" deep.


12" deep is ok , as long as it is filled to the brim.
It seems that the bed is not full. If the bed is made 10" deep and 2" of it ie empty, there can be a problem. I woul conside 12" soil depth to be ok.

In hot weather deeper soil can protect the plants' root from heating up. I think the state of your plant shows NOT ENOUGH soil depth and volume. You could get by with that if you did not have scorching weather..

So my suggestion is to fill in more soil AND mulch the top.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 4:13AM
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