Whats happening to my tomato leaves?

Corpus Christi, TX


As you can see from the picture, the leaves are turning brown and curling up and dying. Ive been watering every two days, and when I water it I give it a good soak. The plant type is Tami G and the weather here has been hot and humid (83-87 degrees). The plant is in a raised bed and I dont know how well it drains...

Thanks for the feedback

Thumbnail by Coons48
Foxboro, MA

When you stick your finger 1 inch down into the soil how wet is it? It should be damp but not drenched. Did you transplant the plants into the bed or direct sow the seeds? If they were transplants did you harden them off first?

Corpus Christi, TX

Thank you for the quick reply,

When I stuck my finger in the soil, it felt moist and a good amount stuck to my finger. I transplanted the plant about 2 months ago.

As for the question of hardening, this is my first year gardening so I am not up to date on the terminology. Although I did allow it to stay outside for a few weeks in the original pot.

Other than that the plant is doing fine, there are about 20-30 grape tomatoes and I have already harvested 4 =)

Foxboro, MA

Since you transplanted 2 months ago I'm not convinced the problem is hardening off (moving the plants outside -in pots- a few hours at a time until they adjust to the increased sunlight, wind, and temperature changes).

It's hard to tell if the problem is over watering or not without being there to see how much soil stuck to your finger. You want something in between mud pie and dust. Like when you test a cake and it's not quite done- a few crumbles of soil should stick to your finger, but it shouldn't be coated in mud. If it's dusty you've waited too long to water. You want to try and keep a constant level of moisture so the soil is never too dry or too wet. Fluctuations is water level , at the very least, lead to cracking in the skin of the tomato.

Did you recently fertilize? Fertilizer can burn plants. Unless you did fertilize recently, my guess it this is caused by either increased temperatures or over/under watering. There are certainly a whole list of diseases that effect tomatoes (and I'm no expert!) but based on the picture you posted it doesn't seem obvious yet that the plant is diseased. Are any of the surrounding plants ill? My tomatoes did succumb to powdery mildew (thanks to the squash!) at the end of the season last year. The leaves do look quite dry at the end, but nothing like you have in your picture. http://www.extension.org/pages/18337/managing-diseases-of-organic-tomatoes-in-greenhouses-and-high-tunnels

I would just keep an eye on your watering and watch the leaves for any signs of disease (color changes, rust spots). You are probably fine at this point unless you're seeing other symptoms.

Corpus Christi, TX

Well I don't know how much help it will be, but I did take a photo of my finger...Hope you can get some information from that.

On the comment about the fertilizer, there could be something there. I applied fertilizer about a week ago or so...I could have carelessly added to much.

Also, I do have a few pepper plants in the same bed and they are having a much milder case of the leaves turning brown and rolling up. Only 1 or 2 leaves per plant...I also applied fertilizer around them, but if I can remember correctly it was less than I applied around the base of the tomato.

Thank you again for the swift replies.

Thumbnail by Coons48
Foxboro, MA

That looks like the perfect amount of moisture on your finger :) It's most likely the fertilizer. If you google 'fertilizer burn tomatoes' you'll see lots of images of the damage, most worse than yours. I would give it some time before fertilizing again. Another way to fertilize and prevent this problem would be to try some organic fertilizers. Blood meal or alfalfa meal is high in nitrogen and good for leaf growth when you transplant. Bone meal high in phosphate with some nitrogen and is good once the plant starts flowering. I also use lots of compost. I'm sure your plants will recover. It doesn't look like you did any irrepairable damage. :) Good luck!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Looks like fertilizer burn to me, too. I only use organic fertilizers because they are much less likely to burn leaves.

Corpus Christi, TX

Well I hope the plants can make a full recovery. I just need to leave them alone for a few days haha

Well I will end the thread on a good note, I have a pod of about 10-15 tomatoes I hope will be ready in a few weeks.

Thank you

Thumbnail by Coons48
Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Which variety is that in the last picture?

Corpus Christi, TX

Its 'Tami G' grape tomato.

So far I am happy with them, Ive tried my best to kill it, haha, but its still going strong. I harvested the first round about 2 weeks ago. very fast =)

Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

What is a pod of tomatoes?

Corpus Christi, TX


Well behillman,

Its my beginner terminology for a group of tomatoes growing together.

I guess you could also call it a cluster or batch.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

What time of day did you fertilize your plants?

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

While Im thinking about it. I ask about what time of day you applied the fertilizer, because its recommended that you apply it in the early morning or late afternoon. Not during a time when there is direct sunlight, that will greatly increase the chances of fertilizer burn.

Given your location, with the high heat and humidity, Id place money on fertilizer burn. If you apply it too late in the evening and it doesnt have time to dry there is a higher chance of disease issues (fungal) but thats a whole other topic.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

A cloudy day is a good one to fertilize. Also immediately before or after heavy rain. Try to avoid fertilizing plants that are very dry - water them well - wait until they are turgid, then apply fertilizer.

Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

You might be pulling off the bottom leaves way too early. You have to wait until the flowers start.

Corpus Christi, TX

Quote from behillman :
You might be pulling off the bottom leaves way too early. You have to wait until the flowers start.

I haven't pulled any leaves, unless they are completely dead. Am i suppose to pull of the bottom row of leaves?

Keep in mind this is my first go at this! =)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Do not PULL leaves...

Use a sharp pair of pruners, or (preferably), SNIPS, to cleanly cut the leaves from the stem, just below the first leaf cluster (pod).

Pulling leaves could cause them to "ribbon" down the stem, exposing a wound just waiting to be attacked by all sorts of fungaluglies...

I learned this the hard way.


Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I don't know where pulling leaves came from???, but I wouldn't remove any leaves only the dead ones, and they should basically fall off. Even using SNIPS leaves an open wound if this is your first go at tomatoes mite as well keep it simple. I rarely remove the bottom leaves. Until you are sure of what's going on I wouldn't want you to leave an open wound that may make the problem worse.

How is the plant doing? Have you noticed any change?

Corpus Christi, TX

Glad you asked lisac!

The plant is doing amazingly well. Although most of the leaves have a bit of a brown end from the burn, most of the new off shots are doing OK, only a few are developing brown ends. I am impressed at how tough this plant is, it has survived a large case of leaf miners and my foolish over fertilization...

I would guess that the plant has about 50 or so tomatoes and a few are ready to be picked.

Edit: Sorry I forgot to rotate photos.

This message was edited May 2, 2012 2:04 PM

Thumbnail by Coons48 Thumbnail by Coons48
Palmerton, PA(Zone 6a)

Please excuse me but........I have a question for you about the leaves being removed, I always watched my father, (as far back as the 1940's) take off the leaves when we transplanted them into the garden because the plants were tall and he took off the leaves of the entire length he was putting underground. sometimes more than 8" of them were stripped off, .are you saying that is no longer done and never take the leaves off or do you mean only those on already transplanted and growing?

Also, I just bought a mix of soil that is supposed to have 30% mushroom house clean off (cow is usually used) in it and I have remixed this until the amount is 1, 5 gal. tub of solid mushroom soil to 3 tubs of the mix..I did this because they said it was safe to use just the mushroom but to me the smell is so strong you can't open the windows near it that I don't really believe them as it being safe...((After all they are not putting their tomatoes in it I am growing them from seed and don't want them all to burn off but I know there is no other soil free from our hand sized rocks to speak of other than buying bags and bags of Scott stuff that gets very expensive....My question is should I introduce my tomatoes to a lesser mix when young to get them used to this much fertilizer ahaahhhh in the buckets they will be going into?

This message was edited May 6, 2012 10:42 PM

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

yellowTlover - it's okay to remove the leaves when setting tomatoes in the ground lower than they originally grew. The stems will put out roots. Your father did the same as modern gardeners are still doing ^_^

Mushroom compost should be safe to use "as is" I don't know why it should have such a strong odor. Was it very wet?

Palmerton, PA(Zone 6a)

No, because up until 10 days ago we have had NO rain for so long! This week it has rained everyday!

Thanks for your answers and I think since today we just bought at Costco a 4 x 4 raised 18" bed I will get another half scoop of the screened with 30% mushroom just to be safe tomorrow! I just figured I could always add some time released pellets later on in the summer for the heavy feeder egg plant, I will put in a 5 gal tub this year.

This message was edited May 8, 2012 12:00 AM

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