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Shanghaisky
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Location: Upstate NY/ Zone 5a/b

Strange coloring, crispy leaves, blossom drop

My two Romas have been through the wringer. I transplanted them to pots on the porch after purchasing from Walmart at the beginningish of May. They were doing well, growing, blossoming, but seemed to be outgrowing the pots. I waited as long as I could and then put them in the ground.

My soil is terrible. Clay with rocks that I covered with several inches of bagged humus/composted manure. I am sure it isn't helping things. They are in full sun, and it's been terribly wet recently with a couple of dry days this week.

When I transplanted them to the ground there was a little blossom drop going on, and I expected maybe some shock and more dropping. Now the leaves are turning this color, seem a little crispy, and both are just generally droopy. Strangely, the tops of both plants are fairly green and healthy looking, with new bright blossoms that look strong. I pruned off leaves that were touching the soil yesterday, as they were yellow and shriveled.

What's going on here, and how can I fix this?

PS All the white fuzz is from a tree (I don't know what kind it is), which has been blowing giant fluffs of seeds all over the property this week.
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Before pruning bottoms
Before pruning bottoms
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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Strange coloring, crispy leaves, blossom drop

I think a bit root bound in the pot, then transplant shock combined with maybe a bit of chill is all. The newest growth is looking better probably since the new roots have found more nutrients in the soil. It was a good idea to remove the weakened leaf since that will (or might have already) just get infected with something or other.

Did you put anything in the planting hole? I like to start them off with a bit of tomato-tone and compost, or just compost if I've fertilized the entire bed. I usually dolomitic lime (I have acidic clay subsoil) and rock phosphate the entire bed. I used to also add greensand but haven't been able to find it lately, but am hoping the blue-green subsoil clay might have similar properties since finding out that there used to be a greensand pit about two miles from here. I did buy a bag of kelp meal yesterday.

In your area, granite dust or decomposed granite -- I think is what it's called -- might be a good source of micro nutrients. If this is a creekbed or floodplain -- did you say that before? Then there might actually be a lot of good stuff in the gravel and muck.

I use a Japanese hand hoe and horse/dog shedding comb (thin metal band held in a loop) to weed around the plants. Once the hot weather settles in, I mulch (soon, I'm thinking).
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Shanghaisky
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Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:31 pm
Location: Upstate NY/ Zone 5a/b

Re: Strange coloring, crispy leaves, blossom drop

Yes, I'm thinking you're right. Those bottom leaves had been yellow since they were in the pots. I do think this is an old floodplain. The garden is on the edge of a rather active/fast creek. We are in the Mohawk Valley, 1.5-2hr from the Hudson, and up in the hills away from the Mohawk river. I think our property was spared during Hurricane Irene, but all of the surrounding 20mi or so was under several feet.. point being I wouldn't doubt that in not too distant history this was under water.

I didn't add anything to the holes. I prefer not to MG fertilize but they haven't gotten any food since I got them, so I'm not sure if they are in need. I did sprinkle some coffee grounds around the bases several days ago for a little nitro boost. Not really convinced it did a ton. When it gets super hot here in the next several days I may have to figure out a makeshift shade cloth (going to jump up to 90's this weekend). Ideas?

Hopefully these little fellas hang on. I'd be sad to have lost these and pulled out my beans and peas to have made room.. live and learn!!

bri80
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Re: Strange coloring, crispy leaves, blossom drop

That kind of leaf discoloration makes me think nutrient deficiencies. Hopefully it will get better as the plant grows into the soil in the garden.

PaulF
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Re: Strange coloring, crispy leaves, blossom drop

They need some food of some kind. I would suggest a liquid soluble plant food. At this stage something with a lower nitrogen level like a "bloom booster" or 10-20-10 or comparable. It wouldn't hurt to follow with a balanced dry fertilizer like 10-10-10 sprinkled around the base and mixed into the soil a little. I can't tell if you have a mulch around the plants, but if it is wood chips, as they decompose they will tie up nitrogen for a while, so the nitrogen in the dry fertilizer will offset the N being used by the chips. If it just soil, I would suggest a mulch of some kind; grass clippings (be sure they have not come from a lawn where weed killer has been used), straw, even plastic.
Paul F

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Shanghaisky
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Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:31 pm
Location: Upstate NY/ Zone 5a/b

Re: Strange coloring, crispy leaves, blossom drop

PaulF wrote:They need some food of some kind. I would suggest a liquid soluble plant food. At this stage something with a lower nitrogen level like a "bloom booster" or 10-20-10 or comparable. It wouldn't hurt to follow with a balanced dry fertilizer like 10-10-10 sprinkled around the base and mixed into the soil a little. I can't tell if you have a mulch around the plants, but if it is wood chips, as they decompose they will tie up nitrogen for a while, so the nitrogen in the dry fertilizer will offset the N being used by the chips. If it just soil, I would suggest a mulch of some kind; grass clippings (be sure they have not come from a lawn where weed killer has been used), straw, even plastic.
No mulch. I have held off on mulch because the soil (clay) under this top layer has been drenched and very cold the last two weeks (night time highs of 48-52), and as far as I know mulch cools the soil...?

Strangely the neighbor's recently transplanted Cherry plant (in a raised bed) is today showing this same leaf coloring. Mine looks even sadder (it's hot today and no rain in the last couple of days), and the top leaves now showing the darkening.

PaulF
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Re: Strange coloring, crispy leaves, blossom drop

Amazingly, mulch only cools the soil when it is hot outside. Mulch also acts like a blanket when it is a little cool...not cold though. Mulch also retains water/moisture in the soil better. Planning for the future, if you use an organic mulch (mine is several layers of newspaper for weed barrier and several inches of weed free straw) it can be tilled into the soil and after a few years will add organics and can offset the clay soil with air spaces making for better growing conditions. It is a process. I am still amending my soil after a full dozen years of work. The native soil here is called 'sugar clay'; the consistency of flour when dry and modeling clay when wet.

Most likely your plants also need to be watered a little every day or two. Will the water soak down into the clay or does it just run off? Mulch will help keep the moisture near where you water at the base of the plant. It is an adventure for sure.
Paul F

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