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Curling leaves with brown spots

Hello all! I'm a newbie Gardner and have been getting my butt kicked by tomato plants. I think these photos are probably my 5th go at tomatoes, but I'll keep at it.

I live in Hawaii and this plant is in a small pot on my porch. It gets plenty of indirect light but very little late day direct sunlight. Plant is a couple months old and I used miracle gro potting soil. There appears to be mold and even spider webs? As well as the leaves curling and browning in spots. The single lonely little tomatoe has lines running around it.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!!

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Wow, lots going on.

The pale squiggly trails in the leaves are leaf miners. They are an insect larva that hatches out inside the leaf and chews its way around the leaf interiors until it is ready to come out and pupate. They are not really a terrible pest; the plant can withstand a lot of that without being set back too much. But to keep it from becoming a more major infestation, just pull off the leaves with squiggles, stomp them to destroy the larva and trash.

The white spider webby stuff is probably wooly scale insects (or maybe cottony cushiony scale insects, which are similar). They are insects, but they don't move, just attach themselves to the plant and suck away at the juices. When there's a lot of them, this is damaging. And they excrete their excess carbohydrates in the form of a sweet sticky substance that can grow black mold on it. You can get rid of them by dabbing them with cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. Or they can be smothered by spraying with horticultural oil.

Your tomato is being chewed on by some kind of insect, perhaps a squash bug.

I don't know what to say about the brown spots. Possibly some fungal disease getting started. Or possibly more insect damage.

Plants that are struggling and weak are very vulnerable to whatever pests are around. Yours are struggling and weak because they are not getting enough sun. Tomatoes are full sun plants that need at least six hours of direct sun daily. Even when plants on a porch are getting direct sun, it is only half as much as a plant out in a field; because of the house behind it, it is only being illuminated from one direction.

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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: Hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

I agree. I do think they are some kind of scale. Your fruit looks a little mottled. Insects can carry viruses that infect plants especially if you do not have a resistant tomato. Tomatoes are heavy feeders. They need about 6 hours of good light a fairly large pot to accommodate the large root system. I use 18 gallon muck buckets that I have drilled holes in. People have gotten away with 5 gallon containers for a small tomato. MG potting soil works but I add about 1/2 cup of tomato food when I plant the tomato and I give it side dressings at first flower, first fruit and monthly thereafter.

Control ants with ant bait, they will bring and protect sucking insects from predators. Besides light, nutrition and growing room, tomatoes need air. If your balcony has a solid wall and it is cement then you have the worst of all words. The solid balcony would block air and the cement would reflect heat and cook roots on a hot day.

If you really want to garden try applying for a plot at one of the city sponsored community gardens. There are nine of them in the city. Most are small 80-150 square feet but are a good size for a beginner. All the gardens have a waiting list so you have to be patient and attend every meeting. You may have to wait months to get a garden and some have 2 year waiting lists. The gardens meet monthly. The best time to get a garden is in July and August since that is when people usually have to give them up if they cannot pay for or take care of them. Each garden has their own set of garden rules in addition to the city rules. So be familiar with the rules of the garden you apply for. Tomatoes don't grow well in all of the gardens especially the ones in the wet areas. The gardens in the drier parts like Makiki and Hawaii Kai may be better for tomatoes.

In Hawaii, we have to have disease resistance. Don't try to grow anything that is not disease tolerant. Grow red current, spoon, sungold (cracks), sunsugar, Kewalo, Celebrity, and red cherry. They do best in a humid climate and they have good disease resistance. Once you succeed you can move on to the more challenging ones like the heirlooms. They usually do not have nematode or very much resistance to viral or fungal diseases so you will have to baby them a lot more. They will need to be on a weekly fungicide program. I have grown Brandywine, Big Beef, Early Girl, Amish paste,spoon, Napa Grape, Kamuela Grape, Golden Rave, and New Big Dwarf successfully in pots off the ground and Brandywine required weekly sprays. The heat tolerant tomatoes were Heatwave II, Sioux, Arkansas traveller. The cherries for the most part are easier to grow than larger tomatoes, they are more productive and they are more heat and disease tolerant. Spoon is a weed in my yard.

With the amount of light your balcony gets, you would be better planting something that can tolerate more shade. You still need to get the plants higher or get a fan on the balcony to provide air movement. I think your environment is not the best for tomatoes. Tomatoes are not the easiest of beginner plants.

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Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2016 4:11 pm

Thanks for the quick reply. All sounds like good advice. I'll get some oil and clean the plant up and try to get it some more light

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