What's this tomato plant disease?

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Hi! My cherry tomato plant (Solanum lycopersicum 'Super Sweet 100') was doing well until I put it outside a few weeks ago in zone 5b. It had been growing about an inch a day near a sunny bay window. I moved it a few feet away outdoors facing the same direction (NW) and in part shade. The first thing I noticed was that it grew more flowers and wilted in the direct sun. I read that tomatoes like direct sun but this plant won't tolerate direct outdoor sunlight.

Then the leaves touching the house died, so I moved it away from the house closer toward the sun about 1 foot. It's still potted and I feed it the same way I did when it was healthy (Miracle-Gro and humic acid alternated with white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide). The leaves in the shade are blue and healthier and the leaves closer to the sun and touched by rain are light green. The first tomatoes appeared this weekend but they are only about 1/3 inch and green.

The main difference after moving the tomato plant outside is that the growth rate rapidly declined from 1 inch a day to 1 inch a week, the leaves wilt frequently (in direct sun and rain), some leaves are covered with white dust (?), the leaves have holes and there are I guess moldy spots colored yellow and brown. The first photo shows diseased leaves, the second photo is the wilt, the third photo is white "dust", and the fourth photo is the previously healthy plant. Please give me advice on how to enable this tomato to continue living outdoors. I don't want to bring it back to the kitchen.

DoGooder

Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis
Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Many of our plants droop in direct noon sun but perk up at sundown, that is a survival trait to conserve liquids, however your plant doesn't look as if it were prepared to be kicked outdoors into the real world so abruptly. I can assume these problems didn't show up til the plant was outdoors? The leaves look as if sunburned some- water splashed and left on the plant as the sun travels overhead - the roots need watered not the plant- can you see anything tiny on the leaves or as if there were holes thru the yellowed leaves, it honestly looks to me as if something were chewing thru the plants roots- our experts will be on later, I am pretty sure, but I don't think I would return it inside either, chuckl

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

kittriana, the problems did start when I put the tomato plant outdoors. It's leaning against our porch and sometimes I pour water from above on one side and that's the side that has almost all the spots. I guess the water droplets are burning spots on the leaves, so I will have to water it at the roots all the time from this point forward.

I also noticed that the tomato branches droop in the daytime then rise again at night and that did happen to a small degree when the tomato was indoors, but it droops much more now that the plant is outdoors. Thanks for telling me that's a harmless survival method. I'm thinking of moving this plant to a backyard plot that gets mostly filtered light and only 4 hours of direct sun a day.

DoGooder



Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

I hope the curl of the leaves isn't thrips, I am not the one in this frame of mind to diagnose that... but quarantine it before moving it. The tomato is simply hardening off as fast as it can. If you have Epsom salts it looks like it could use a treatment- 1 Tbsp to a gal of water- this can be done as a drench-if done in time for the leaves to dry before the sun is too hi, it can absorb the minerals in Epsom salts thru the leaves, or by sprinkling on the soil and watering in. To help the plant not need so much water pinch the lower branches back and it should help the plant toughen up the newer leaves quicker. Moving it around is a shock to a plant, no matter how well meant, try to find where you want it and let it get busy...and like I said earlier, hopefully the guys who are getting to actually grow gardens and memories are much sharper than mine atm will give you better assistance, chuckl,

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

kittriana, I do have some epsom salts available. Thanks for the tip! I didn't realize there would be so many problems hardening off the tomato plant since I took it out in mid-spring when the weather was warm. It's in a pot so if I move it to another location at least it won't suffer transplant shock.

DoGooder

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

DoGooder

When moving a plant from inside to outside it needs to be "hardened off". First place it in the shade for a day or two, then move it to a spot where it will receive sun for only an hour or so in the morning or late evening for a day or so. Finally begin to move it each day to a place where it will receive more sunlight. After ten days to two weeks it should be able to withstand full sun.

Tomatoes need at least six hours of direct sun each day. Eight hours is best.

Tomatoes that are not in the ground need a container that is as least five gallons in size - seven is good - ten gallons is best for each plant.

Watering tomatoes too often will drown the roots and the plant will die.

From what I have read, vinegar is used to kill weeds. I've never read that one should use vinegar on a tomato plant.

The reason your tomato was growing by an inch per day when inside was because it was not getting enough light.

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

HoneybeeNC, thanks for the advice about hardening off plants! I started hardening off a Gerbera daisy I got last Sunday by placing it in part shade during the day. It's doing okay so far. As for the tomato plant, I think it gets about 4-6 hours direct sun per day and the container is about 4-5 gallons.

I provide it with about 2 cups of water per day (about 3 times more than I was watering it when it was indoors). However, if I don't water it that much it droops a lot more. As for the vinegar killing the plant I read that one should add undiluted 10% acidity vinegar to the weeds, but I only add a tablespoon of 5% vinegar to a 1.5 gallon watering can and I calculated that's about .001% as much vinegar as weed killing vinegar solution, so I don't think it's harmful. However, I did kill a monkshood with my vinegar and hydrogen peroxide solution, but the rest of my potted plants either don't care or thrive with that solution (every 4 days).

After cutting off most of the dead leaves and watering the tomato plant only at the roots the plant is much healthier. It doesn't make any sense but it seems to love overcast skies and looks its best under clouds. I photographed the plant today after about 15 hours of rain (attached photo). It has at least 10 tomatoes and dozens of flowers so I guess it's healthy since this species is supposed to produce ripe fruit in mid-summer and it's began that process.

Here's a web site describing the species:

http://myfolia.com/plants/10-tomato-solanum-lycopersicum/varieties/486-supersweet-100

You mentioned that the tomatoe was growing faster indoors because of low light, and maybe that's the case, but indoors it had windows on three sides getting morning, noon, and evening light and now half the plant is under the house eves and is in darkness most of the day so I'm not sure if it's getting more or less light. The linked web site says this plant should grow to a maximum of 3.9 ft. but it's over 6 ft high. I don't know if it's the Miracle-Gro, humic acid, or what else it has available but it seems happy for now and that's all I can hope for.

DoGooder

Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis
Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

HoneybeeNC, I forgot to mention why I add white vinegar to the water. I read that many greenhouses add acid to their irrigation water to make the irrigation water as close to rainwater was possible. It's not uncommon for rain to have a 4 or 5 ph and when it enters the soil the acid breaks down nutrients for plants to eat. Because rain is so acidic it destroys water pipes, so governments usually harden public water by adding alkaline substances to it. A downside to that is that tap, hose, and sprinkler system water that most people use to water their plants is missing valuable acid to help break down nutrients for plants.

Some people use Vitamin C. Greenhouses use inexpensive acidifying chemicals that they buy in bulk. I can buy 1 gallon of white vinegar at the supermarket for about $3 and it lasts about half a year so I only pay about $6 per year for gardening acid.

DoGooder

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Diff areas do have diff water, usually the vinegar solution is reduced as the plant gets bigger, undiluted full strength vinegar can kill plants, cloudy skies give it a break from strong sun and help speed up hardening off, A lot of plants are growing to their max this year, the Epsom will help the plant process chlorophyll better- and green it up- you are using distilled vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar- the distillation process removes several things that are healthy, but I am not sure if it matters for your purpose, I just keep remembering distilling makes water(and other lqds) hungry so they are always searching to steal their substance back into themselves. Good luck

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Kittriana, thanks for the advice on the advantages of apple cider vinegar! I will consider repeated applications of Epson salts to assist photosynthesis.

DoGooder

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Have you tested your soil? In looking at your pictures I would say the biggest that pot is would be about 3 gallons. It might help to give it some peroxide in the water, but then you might just be adding too many chemicals. I think it needs to be planted in the ground. Just my opinion.

And all plants take time to adjust to new areas and conditions. However, yes, putting a plant from inside your house directly into the sun is a killer. It probably should have been trimmed back at that same time.

These are just my 2 cents worth.

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Jnette, I did write earlier that the pot was 4-5 gallons because I thought I had put it in one of my largest paper pots which are 13" diameter, but actually I put it in a smaller pot, perhaps a 10" pot, so it's probably 3 gallons as you say. I do add peroxide every 4 days, about 2 teaspoons per 1.5 gallon watering can at this time. I might plant the tomato plant in the ground or I could cut off the bottom layer of the paper pot and let the roots grow. I don't know much about tomato plant roots, but I put it in that size pot because the original seedling was in a small pot about 4" so the roots would have to grow about 4 times the original size to outgrow the transplant pot.

I agree with your opinion that the tomato plant should have been trimmed back when I placed it outside. A few days ago I trimmed all the old leaves which are rounded as in the 4th picture of my original post, and it grew about 3" since then. The rounded leaves didn't have flowers or tomatoes, but the new dark bluish pointed leaves keep adding flowers and tomatoes. This is my first time growing a vegetable plant so I don't know much.

DoGooder

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

:0) well, you are learning a lot for your first time. First thing I would have done is get it out of those paper pots. They are terrible. I try not to buy anything in them, but if I do, that is the first thing I do before anything else.

Whoops!! just re-read your post and you actually put it in one of those. Sorry, maybe not everybody agrees with me. And some use them I guess. To me they are the dreaded pots of plants. Just shudder when I see them.

Guess it's time for me to get out of here and mind my own business.

Just one last thing. Curious about what the tomato actually is? A nondeterminate obviously. But when it was in the house it looked like it was getting leggy. Not enough light.

Ok, You have heard enough from me. Good luck. Jeanette

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Jnette, I don' mind hearing your opinions. However, I am interested in whether you don't like paper pots for aesthetic reasons or because they harm plants. I buy paper pots mostly because they're inexpensive which allows me to experiment. Plastic posts are also inexpensive but I try to avoid plastic whenever possible so the only way I can get a 4 gallon pot for a few dollars is to purchase paper.

Also, paper pots can be planted in the ground without disturbing the roots. And I guess they provide more aeration than clay pots. Also the type that I get have holes on the sides which I love because that provides better drainage. They don't look pretty but at least they are the same color group as the the cardboard boxes, jute and wood planters I use.

The tomato variety (Solanum lycopersicum 'Super Sweet 100) was listed as indeterminate on one web site and determinate on another web site, so I'm not sure whether it will continue to grow till winter. I thought it would be more like a vine but the branches stretch outward and it is now about 4.5' wide and 6.5' high. The new branches are full of flowers and tomatoes from top to bottom so I guess it will produce its namesake 100 cherry tomatoes.

DoGooder

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Just skimmed this thread so but I did notice that you add H2O2 often. Just remember it kills the good as well as the bad pathogens. You don't want sterile soil. You need microbe activity in your soil.

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

1lisac, thanks for the information about H202! I added organic fertilizer when I repotted the tomato plant and I hope the H202 didn't harm the micro-organisms.

DoGooder

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Add alittle more. I don't think it will hurt anything. I would start with a small amount, you can always add more, it's hard to take it out. Lol

Just like antibiotics they kill good and bad bacteria but H2O2 kills all types of microbes. But since your growing in a container you can add more.

You mentioned that this is the first time you have grown veggies. I think you are doing great. When you quit learning you quit gardening.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Ok DoGooder, I forget that the farther East you go, the more different type of gardening there is. Even South. No, the paper pots they use out here are plant killers as far as I'm concerned. And yes, the paper is cheaper but you sure would never plant these that we get in the ground and expect them to be able to grow thru the pots.

I am in the process of trying to figure out a mulch that they use in the South and we don't get here. I am totally amazed sometimes. But you know what I think it is, that the transportation is so expensive we don't have any dealers here that want to charge the customers for it. Probably think they can't sell it. So many things.

I hope you have a great crop of cherry tomatoes off of the plant. It will get used to the sun. I just got a cat on the key board. 'nite. Jeanette

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

1lisac, thanks for the compliment! There's so much information about gardening, I will keep studying it all my life! Lucky for me I enjoy reading about plants and gardening.

DoGooder

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Jnette, the paper pots I use are tough like wood. It took me 15 minutes to saw through the top of a pot last year. However, the bottom 1" of the pots become soft and are easy to puncture or remove to allow roots to grow through. They're called Biodegradable Pots and I get them at NovoselEnterprises.com.

I've used peat pots for smaller plants and they almost always become moldy, so I never buy peat pots anymore. If I had the money I would buy only clay pots. I want my pots to match because as a new gardener I frequently move my pots and I want the potted plants to match with the garden and the other companion pots wherever I move them. I'm a frugal gardener and I find that I can reuse my containers more often if they match everything else.

Last year the major lesson I learned was to use fertilizer. This year one of the main lessons I've learned is to build the structure first (i.e. trellis, pots, edging, plant stands...) then decide what plants to add. I think most plants are happier if they can be immediately transplanted than waiting around for me to get a new pot or trellis etc.

DoGooder

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Well, you and I have a lot to learn about gardening DoGooder. I have been gardening all my life which is quite a long time, and still learn. I am learning more that there are other ways of doing things than the ways I have always done them, because I have lived in the same area all my life.

Like Lisa says, when you stop learning, you stop gardening.

Another thing, just recently I have found more "new" plants in the nurseries. Plants we, up here, didn't know existed. Very interesting.

Have fun, and don't forget to grow things other than tomatoes for your table. :0)

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Jnette, I got some cabbage seeds and I hope I have time to plant them. I'm originally from the Northwest (Oregon) but I grew up in zone 8 in Multnomah County. So while I'm in zone 5 now as you are, I happily recall my childhood and the greener environment of the Northwest. Massachusetts zone 5 winter is a lot of bare twigs, yellow grass and white snow, but I assume in Washington's zone 5 district the abundant coniferous plants create a green environment year-round.

DoGooder

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Yes, we do have some Birch, Cottonwoods, and a few others, like willows. But mostly Cedars, Pine, Larch, which as you know lose their needles too. I was very surprised the first time I found that out. A needle tree that was bare in the winter!! But we do have many to keep it green in the winter with the white snow.

You have a good memory. Your cabbage might make it yet if you have somewhere out of the sun you can plant it. After all, you are in zone 5. LOL

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

It rained a lot this week and I noticed light-colored bumps growing on the tomato stems (see attached picture). Is this root nodes? If so is that an indication I need to repot now or just a symptom of rain and humidity? I added 1 cup Epsom Salts last week and a tablespoon of organic fertilizer and maybe that increased root growth.

DoGooder

Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Those are strange to me. How big a pot do you have it in? I thought you said you had them infairly large pots? Do you mean you put a whole cup of ES on that one plant? How did you do it, dissolved in water, scratched in around it? a whole cup to one plant seems like a lot to me. I don't know that it would hurt it any, but just seems like a lot. Especially if the plant is in a container.

I don't know that it would hurt it any, or cause the bumps. I will be interested in hearing what others say.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Normal for mater plants, half the epsoms chuckl at least! Less more often is best, if those vines were on the ground it would happily be rooting itself to support the length of vine and load of tomatoes it wants to grow, otherwise I wouldn't worry any abt the nodes,

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Well, I remember that DoGooder is planting in pots. But, if it were me, I think I would get it out of the pot and into the ground. It looks like a really strong, healthy plant, but don't know what the bumps are and how long it will be real strong and healthy.

I suppose it depends on how you administered the ES too. If you watered them in with the ES dissolved in the water, I would say the plant is really absorbing them. It might be too late to take it out of the pot. Might as well just stand back and watch what happens. I don't think it will explode. LOL sorry Do Gooder, I think 1/4 cup would have been better. per plant. But like I said it might not hurt it. Who knows, maybe you discovered a new fertilizer.

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Jnette, I measured the pot today and it's 9" so I guess it's maybe 2 gallons. I plan to repot the tomato plant soon because it's about 7' now so I guess the roots would be at the edges of the pot. There is a 1 inch layer of chunky pine bark on the top, and I placed the Epsom Salt on top of the bark and then poured a few cups water on it until it dissolved. I water the plant every day so I think the Epsom Salts are completely in the soil by now.

As for the bumps, I checked the Internet and discovered that tomato runners begin as light green bumps so I hoped that's what's happening to this plant. However, I wanted to find out if anyone on this forum has seen a disease that looks like this, hence why I posted today. Kittriana says the bumps happen sometimes and it's nothing to worry about, so since the tomato looks healthy otherwise I don't have anything to be concerned about now except that my plant needs more room for the roots to grow.

DoGooder

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

kittriana, thanks for confirming that the nodes are normal and healthy! Last year nodes formed on one of my clematis plants and it became a home for ants and stunted and withered. It died early this year, so that's why I became alarmed when I saw nodes growing on my tomato plant.

This plant is growing like gangbusters, so I assume the nodes would root in the ground as you say because it needs a lot of nutrients to fuel its growth. I forgot that in the wild tomato vines grow on the ground because I'm so used to seeing them hanging from ceiling pots or attached to wire cages and stakes. Vines often develop runners where they meet the ground so since wild tomatoes grow on the ground like vines I guess they evolved to grow runners to take advantage of as much nutrient-rich soil as possible

DoGooder

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Sorry I wrote stuff and then deleted it all. Wait for Kittriana to tell you what to do with the plant.

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Hi! I checked my tomato plant after a brief thunderstorm today and I noticed that some of the tomatoes appear to have brown spots like rust. Could that be the beginning of blossom end rot? I repotted the plant a few days ago by placing the bottom half of the original pot in an 18" pot, and I thought it had died because the stems and leaves were stringy the next day but it revived, nevertheless I still don't have any red tomatoes.

DoGooder

Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

No, Not BER. BER is a definite black spot right where the blossom had been.

From how those pictures look, your tomatoes look very good. My gosh, for zone 5, which is the same zone I am in, yours are fantastic!! Why would you think you should have ripe tomatoes by now? Mine are just starting to bloom!!

I think you should maybe put your attention to something else and let them be. How hot is it there? Are you having a heat wave? If so, I would not do anything other than water them unless you really think they have a disease. If so, can you take a leaf that shows the rust or whatever to an Extension Office, do you have one? Or to a nursery that might know. If you don't have a leaf that has it, take a picture right up close of the area you are looking at, and take that with you.

Good luck.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I forgot to ask you if the rusty spots ARE in the spot where BER would be?

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

I wouldn't have repotted, but not sure what your brown spots are, all sorts of things could be in shock, or burned- from any nuumber of things! The water - chlorine in city water- too rich a soil mixture- did you ck to see how many days it takes for growing this plant? Many are slow to ripen - but once Goin roll steadily on, here in the south the season has slowed down, it will take another month or two before production picks back up, you guys up north are being slammed from cool nights to hot nights and hotter days- I just came down from Philadelphia thru Virginia the morning after those winds tore thru there- way too hot and ppl were dying from that heat alone. Guys, I am no expert at all this, just a person trying to pay attention- your help is appreciated when we pool knowledge! Keeps my oh yeah's! Bubblin to the top of the brain, chuckl

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Jnette, thanks for the compliment for the tomatoes! At this time I'm not worried about the size and number of the tomatoes. There are about 60-70 and they range in size from 1/4 to 3-4 inches. They look big in the photos but in reality they look like marbles.

What worries me is that they will never ripen because they've been green for about two months. I don't know much about tomatoes and I've seen a lot of pictures by DG members showing their huge harvests of tomatoes, so I thought mine were being held back by something. Thanks for telling me that it's normal for zone 5 tomatoes to be green at this time of year. Today the temperature is a high of 89 degrees and the weather people say the temperature will increase in the next few days.

I've been watering the plant twice a day, otherwise the leaves curl into 1/3 inch rolls and look like mint-colored cinnamon sticks. The Western sun is brutal on the tomato plant but I had to move it closer to the sun so I could attach the ever-growing branches to my porch rail. I will take your advice to not worry and just water the plant and prevent myself from staring at it a dozen times a day. As to the Extension Office, I don't know what that is.

Thank you for telling me the rust-like stuff isn't BER. It's mostly on the bottom of the tomatoes as seen in the 2nd photo. So since it's on the bottom of the tomatoes where I read BER first appears I thought it might be the first symptom. Maybe it's burn marks because of the hot sun. - DoGooder

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

kittriana, thanks for telling me the transplant shock could have made the tomato plant more susceptible to burning. I cut off a lot of leafy branches that took shade away from the tomatoes and most are now facing direct sun, so I guess they are burned. I did transplant using a very rich soil, mostly potting soil and spare germination mix. As for the harvest time, the following website says this cultivar takes about 96 days to produce a harvest and should have ripe tomatoes by mid summer:

http://myfolia.com/plants/10-tomato-solanum-lycopersicum/varieties/486-supersweet-100

DoGooder

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Found by riceke on an earlier thread and I saved it for myself- see if this helps or just poses more problems, chuckl, www.://extension.iastate.edu/publications/pm1266.pdf an agricultural county extension office is what they are referring to- NOT sure if Ma has those- any county offices in your area could tell you tho

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

kittriana, thanks for explaining what an Extension Office is. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has a Center for Agriculture and I could contact them with questions.

DoGooder

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Wow!! 96 days? Are you sure? I don't think I have ever seen a tomato that takes that long. Because we are zone 5, I try to plant only tomatoes that take from 57 to maybe 65 days. That is a terribly long time DoGooder. What are they?

Thanks for letting DG know what the extension office is Katrina. I haven't been on for quite a while.

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Jnette, the cherry tomato cultivar is 'Supersweet 100' Solanum lycopersicum. I got my plant 71 days ago in the mail and it had lots of leaves then, so I guess it's been alive longer than 96 days, because I assume it takes longer than 25 days to grow over 12 inches high with several branches and leaves.

DoGooder

This message was edited Jul 3, 2012 5:38 AM

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