bebeby
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2016 6:33 am

My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

I am a student living in a dorm, in Philadelphia, USA. Now is winter time, and I am growing a few tomato seedlings in pots. Recently my seedlings a getting unhealthy, their leaves are curling, withering, and I am very concerned. Here are some pictures:

This is the first seedling

Image

Also the first seedling at a different angle. You can see in the background there is another unknown plant (which shoots out by itself from the soil) whose leaves are also curling.

Image

This is the second tomato seedling. Notice its leaves on the right side are withering

Image

This is the unknown plant mentioned above, potted in the same pot as the first tomato seedling

Image

Other facts:

Lighting:

My dorm has no sunlight... Thus I am using fluorescent light as seen in the below picture. Is the lighting not enough?

Image

Temperature:

The temperature of my room is about 75F or 24C.

Watering:

I am watering everyday and the soil is kept moist everyday. I use water from the tap. Are there harmful chemicals in tap water? Are the seedlings overwatered?

Soil:

This is a long story. Initially I just took garden soil in the garden outside my dorm, and I grow my seedlings (3 of them) all in a single container which I made out of a orange juice bottle (about 4 inches in diameter, with holes drilled at the bottom) and the seedlings grew well for about a month. There was even some unknown plant (as shown in the picture above) shooting out of the soil. Then one day one of my tomato seedlings has its leaf wilted overnight. I thought it might be soil problem or overcrowding problem so I transferred all my seedlings to pots as shown in the picture above, one seedling in each pot. I also bought new potting soil and thrown away all the old garden soil. But the problem persists...

Roots:

When I do the transfer of the seedlings from the original small container to pots, which is about a month after germination, I noticed that their roots are pretty short, only about an inch long. This is the first time I grow tomato and I do not know if this is normal.

Please help to save these poor little lives! Any help is much appreciated!

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

Wow, poor pathetic seedlings! Here's what tomato seedlings ought to look like:

Image

those would be a week to ten days from germination. If you took them out of the container, their roots would be at least as long as the plant is tall and well branched.

Honestly, it may just be too difficult to try to start seeds like this in a dorm room. Very hard to give them what they need. I know you put them in the big pots because you were trying to help, but it wasn't really a good move, the pots are too big. All that soil stays too wet too much of the time.

1) they aren't getting nearly enough light. Lights for seedlings need to be fluorescents and they need to be just a couple inches above the plants, hung so they can be raised as the plants grow.

Image
https://georgeweigel.net/favorite-past-g ... arting-101

Incandescent lights give off too much heat. If they are close enough to do any good, they will burn your plants up. Light intensity varies by the square of the distance. So in that picture, say the lights are three inches above the plants. If they are raised so they are six inches above the plants, the plants will be getting one quarter the light intensity and will fail.

2) They are over-watered, staying too wet too much of the time. Water management for seedlings is tricky. With small root systems, they can't be allowed to dry out, but they are very susceptible to over watering, and getting root rot or damping off (both fungal diseases). You said you got potting soil for them, but it doesn't look like how I expect potting soil to look. Maybe just because it is wet and packed down, but potting soil should be loose and fluffy. Yours looks more like topsoil. It is heavy and holding too much water.

I don't know where you were planning to plant your seedlings, had they made it. But in your current situation, it would probably work best if you just bought some well started transplants. You can grow a great garden that way. Once you are no longer in a dorm and have your own space, you can branch out in to seed starting.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

Clip on reflector lamps with Cf bulbs work just fine and are cheap at under $10. As noted in previous post, smaller pots to start. Also a small fan on low speed would help make stonger plants with lower risk of disease. If possible, give the plants some natural sunlight from the start, either outside on a sunny day or in a sunny window.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11269
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

The pots are too big for seedlings. If you are watering everyday and you are keeping plastic bags under them. They are too wet. It is hard to start a high light plant like tomatoes indoors much less a dorm.
Use yogurt cups and potting soil not dirt for the seed starting. Water gently in the sink let the pots drain and keep them on a plate with no water in the plate. Keep the light 6-8 inches above the seedlings and don't water if the soil is still damp. Indoors there is no air circulation so a fan helps with drying and air conditioning and heating can change how fast the media dries, so use your finger. The media should be damp not squishy and water when it is barely damp then water and drain well.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

bebeby
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2016 6:33 am

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

Dear all, thank you very much for replying. Now I know where the issue is. I have lowered the light and stopped watering for now, and will only water when the soil become dry enough. Hopefully this will solve the lighting and watering problem. As for the soil, I am using this brand

Image

is it not good enough? If so, is it too late to change it, such as into potting mix? If not too late, can someone recommend a brand which I can buy online, preferably from Amazon where I always buy things?

And, should I transfer them back into small containers?

I know it is weird to plant tomato in my dorm. Actually it was because of this: one day I was eating tomato in a bowl, and afterwards I left the bowl filled with water, intending to wash it later. But due to laziness I did not wash the bowl for a few days and there were 3 tomato seeds inside the bowl, which started to germinate. I could not bear to throw them away since they are now living things. I also found it amazing because I microwaved the original tomato that contained these seeds for 2 minutes in my microwave oven before I ate it. Thus I decided to grow them. I know the difficulties of growing them in my dorm but I decide to grow them anyways and move one step at a time and see what happens.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27792
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

Haha that is great! Even if these guys don't make it, you have taken your first step, and maybe you can keep on trying.

I like to mix a bit of something in even the premium potting mix. Usually about 1 part to 3 parts potting mix. Typically sand but also coir, perlite, pumice gravel, parboiled rice hulls. Gravel sized UltraSorb/DE worked great before, but my new bag turned out to be sand-like (cannot find any difference in the labeling in the bag) and that seems to be killing my seedlings.... :(

With tomato seedlings, you can add more potting mix up to bottom of the lowest leaf. I actually use 1 part to 2 parts for immediately around the stem so there's less chance of damping off.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11269
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

Make sure your pot has holes in it. I like to add drainage holes on the sides and have at least 4 on the bottom. I use a soldering iron to make holes in plastic containers and I do it outside with a mask. Burn't plastic is toxic You can make the holes with a nail but it takes more work. I use yogurt cups for seedlings and larger butter or cottage cheese containers or gallon cans to pot up seedlings. I have even used styrofoam ice coolers. They are easy to make holes in and add insulation especially in hot weather. They used to be cheap, but not any more.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27792
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

Yeah I thought of something else. I'm not entirely sure if your little ones will be able to recover. Seedlings are best if kept growing strong from the get go, and it's really more practical to start over. So if you are game, keep trying with more seeds -- though I have to say I'm surprised these didn't get cooked.

I wonder if it's possible that they WERE DAMAGED IN SOME WAY IN THE MICROWAVE?

For these or for the next subjects, watering with diluted cooled chamomile tea is a good way to keep them healthy. I give my plants all of my leftover or last dregs of beverages (not alcoholic though -- they are bad for plants) diluted in de chlorinated or filter water. Seedlings after they grow their true leaves.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

bebeby
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2016 6:33 am

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

hendi_alex wrote:Clip on reflector lamps with Cf bulbs work just fine and are cheap at under $10. As noted in previous post, smaller pots to start. Also a small fan on low speed would help make stonger plants with lower risk of disease. If possible, give the plants some natural sunlight from the start, either outside on a sunny day or in a sunny window.
Thank you for your suggestion on the Clip on reflector lamps, I looked these up and they looked great! But there are many choices, can you please post a link for a good one? Thanks in advance!

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

Lowes carries this typefor under $9. It is what I use, but one lamp will only service 4-6 young plants.

Image
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

Use a 23 watt warm white CF bulb.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

bebeby
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2016 6:33 am

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

hendi_alex wrote:Use a 23 watt warm white CF bulb.
Thank you! I will try to look for these.

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

It is just a regular compact flourescent bulb, 100 watt replacement. I think that the color temperature is something like 2300 k. The lamp is located with extention cords in Lowes.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

xtgold
Cool Member
Posts: 76
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:29 am
Location: CT USA Zone 6b

Re: My tomato seedling leaves are curling and wilting, help!

bebeby wrote: I also found it amazing because I microwaved the original tomato that contained these seeds for 2 minutes in my microwave oven before I ate it. Thus I decided to grow them. I know the difficulties of growing them in my dorm but I decide to grow them anyways and move one step at a time and see what happens.
you can take tomatoes off fast food burgers and grow them fine after they have been microwaved,I have done it with tomato slices off a whopper,so the microwave isn't a factor.

Return to “TOMATO FORUM”