jesshug
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Curling Yellowing Tomato Leaves

Please help! I have no idea what is going on with my tomato plants. All 3 of my plants have leaves that are curling, wilting and drying out.
Plants are in pots with fresh organic soil. I have given them diluted fish emulsion twice now. They get plenty of sun with consistent temps (60-80). I have tried my best not to water them too much, once every couple days.

On each plant, there are currently a few tomatoes growing, but the plant stature seems to slowly be diminishing. Please take a look at the picture for a better look :(
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TZ -OH6
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Re: Curling Yellowing Tomato Leaves

Where are you at? I don't know so you get the Ohio answer.


Leaf curl is a common and harmless thing many of us see in the spring and early summer. One cause is thought to be cool wet soil. It's so common here that I didn't know tomatoes didn't do it. And I could swear that it happens in soil that is not that wet, so go figure.

You have clay pots so they should speed water loss. You might have to water every day with a big plant, but check before you water by sticking your finger down in the pot to see if it is damp or dry before you water--don't keep it wet-soggy. Even watering and even soil moisture is critical in a pot to avoid blossom end rot.


It seems that some tomato tops like to wilt in the hot part of the day. It's just something they do. Growth outpaces the root's ability to get water to them no matter how wet the soil.

I don't see any yellow leaves. Top, bottom? Could be low oxygen at the bottom of the pot from soggy soil. That would keep the roots from working. But a clay pot with good drainage and hot days shouldn't allow that very easily.

jesshug
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Re: Curling Yellowing Tomato Leaves

Thank you so much for your reply! I'm in Northern California actually. We're consistently at 60-80 degrees. I did notice it started happening after a couple cold days though, so I think you might be right! How long should I expect to see the curling? Is there a good way to make sure the roots are getting plenty of oxygen? When it's real hot, the top of the soil tends to dry out while the bottom is most likely staying moist.

I've included a picture with the yellowing leaves. They are on the side/top of one plant. Recently they've acquired some browned edges too :(

Thanks again!
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TZ -OH6
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Re: Curling Yellowing Tomato Leaves

The curling is usually permanent. Just think of it as a Shirley Temple tomato plant.


You can put some mulch such as 2-3 inches of grass clippings on top of the pot to even out the drying. The pot should dry by the roots removing water. To get more air in you can take a stick and jam it down in 3-4 places halfway between the plant and the pot. I assume that you have pot shards in the bottom otherwise you could poke a stick up the bottom hole too. Personaly, I would probably dig a hole down at the side of the pot all the way to the bottom and stick my hand in to see if I had soggy mix at the bottom, but I've been known to screw things up just to get an answer. it would get air in thts for sure. :shock:


Nutrient problems/ root problems almost always affect the lower leaves first because the plant pulls things out of the oldest leaves for the new growth. Some deficiencies affect the very top leaves -- those nutrients that can't be translocted. A single upper or middle leaf yellowing has no normal explanation. Some soil born diseases can affect half a plant but you will see the leaves yellow from the bottom up. A middle leaf could get hit if no leaf was directly below it, but those diseases are rare in first year potting mix.

... so I have no clue what the yellowing is.

PaulF
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Re: Curling Yellowing Tomato Leaves

A couple of thoughts. Be sure to have several drain holes in the bottom of the pot. If the plants are drowning the leaves will turn yellow. If you do have drain holes, once a week or ten days water with a dilute solution of liquid fertilizer. Yellow leaves are also an indication of lack of nutrients. Watering pots will wash out all nutrients and they need to be replaced.
Paul F

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RogueRose
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Re: Curling Yellowing Tomato Leaves

I second the drainage hole idea.

Also I have failed to be impressed with the "organic soils" that I have come across. I have some plants in a bunch of different kinds of soil and they seem to sure need a lot of help. I supplement mine once a week with kelp and every other week with seabird guano. Otherwise no magic seems to happen. I also found that it does not seem to drain at all - as in pull water through the whole pot. Have you dug down and see if it is watering through?

jesshug
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Re: Curling Yellowing Tomato Leaves

Thank you all, this is fantastic information. I just realized that the yellowing leaves on the one plant are only on one branch, which was facing away from the sun and hidden. Might that have anything to do with it?

I did use Organic soil! I stuck a stick down to the bottom in a few places and it was coming out somewhat damp. I checked the drainage hole and it didn't feel super moist, but who knows. I'll check to make sure the next time I water if anything comes out.

Last question... what is the best type of liquid fertilizer? I've been using Fish Emulsion, but is there anything better that you would recommend? Can I find kelp and seabird guano at an average garden supply store by chance?

Thank you so much.

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