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Tomato plant not doing!

Corpus Christi, TX


Bought a tomato plant from a local store not to long ago and its not doing well. As you can see from the picture that the leaves are turning yellow/brown. Ive watered it regularly, and its been about 2 weeks since I transplanted it. I have another tomato plant in the same garden and its doing well. Any ideas? Only thing I can think about is maybe its been a bit too windy, solid week of 20-30 mph winds.

Thank you

Thumbnail by Coons48
Foxboro, MA

That looks like a huge plant for 2 weeks past transplant even for something purchased from a store.... The leaves look burned. Did you fertilize? Harden it off before moving outside? Wind certainly can cause damage but I don't think that's your problem. What is the average temperature there right now?

Corpus Christi, TX

It was this tall when I bought it. I'm using soil that has built in fertilizer, I haven't added any around this plant. The store I bought it from had it outside, so I transplanted it a few days after I bought it. The daytime high has been in the mid 80's, and low's around 65-75.

Thank you

Foxboro, MA

I looked at your picture again. Is that a salt water river/bay behind your garden? Have there been any storm surges recently along with the wind? Some of the leaves on your plant look like the salt damage in this picture. It is possible that the store never hardened off the plant and simply put it outside the day you bought it. But sun scald normally effects all of the leaves evenly, not just the edges like yours (I've done it a few times...).

Tonto Basin, AZ

Kinda looks like it might be over watered.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

My first thought was salt damage, too.

What kind of soil are you using?

Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

Do you by any chance have potatoes planted here?

Corpus Christi, TX

Well that body of water back there is the Laguna Madre, a unique hyper saline body of water. Basically it means its saltier than the ocean. The winds have been coming off the water for about 2 weeks now, so there could be something there. Although my other tomato plant is doing well even after my over fertilization fiasco...

For over watering, I water every other day. It doesn't rain here.

The soil is 100% imported. I used several large bags of "garden soil" and mixed it with mulch.

The other plants in the bed are cayenne and jalapenos and they seem to be doing ok.

Foxboro, MA

This could very well be a delayed symptom of the fertilization burn or fertilization burn + salt.

Corpus Christi, TX


Well what should I do? Leave the plant in and see if it will recover or buy a new one?

If I buy a new one what steps should I take to assure its success?

Also what should I look for when buying a plant from the nursery?


Foxboro, MA

I guess it depends how badly you want tomatoes. Are you willing to take the risk of losing one plant worth of tomatoes this year? You could also move the sick one to a large container and buy another. If it comes back you get extra tomatoes, if it doesn't you didn't miss out on an entire plant's worth of tomatoes.

Ironically, smaller is better when you're buying most nursery plants. If they are too large for the container they're going to become pot bound. Meaning they have used up most of the available space and nutrients in the pot they are in. If they're smaller they will take off once you put them in your garden. If possible check the root system by tipping the plant out of the pot before you buy it. The one that is the least matted will likely do the best in your garden. If it is overly matted tease the roots apart or make for vertical cuts in the roots before transplanting. This encourages the roots to grow out rather than continuing to grow in a circle around the root ball.

As for the overall health, you don't want anything with yellow or curling leaves, spots/blemishes, physical injury (cuts/breaks in stem) or browing leaf tips. If you notice anything that looks like insects or fungus I would stay clear. I personally do not transplant the same day I purchase. I always harden them off the first few days in my garden. First in the shade and then in the spot where they will be transplanted to.

Your soil appears very healthy and high in organic matter. You can probably get away with adding more compost this year, or none at all if it's brand new soil. I did not fertilize at all my first year with my raised beds (50/50 soil compost mix) and had great yields. Chemical fertilizers are very tricky. If you want to continue to use them I would be vigilant about proper dilution. It may be best to use half the recommended manufacturer's dilution until you are confident that your soil is draining well. Also, depending on the the soil that you are using it may already have time release fertilizer in it so you might be double fertilizing. If you want to switch to organic fertilizer I would recommend blood or alfalfa meals for nitrogen, bone meal for phosphorus, and kelp meal for potassium and micro nutrients. Although you would need to control the overall proportions of the organic meals in your fertilizers (say 1 part alfafa/1 part bone/3 parts kelp) you can pretty much throw it at the plant without burning the roots. The soil microbes break down the meals slowly so it can take 1 month to 1 year for all of the fertilizer to be released.

Corpus Christi, TX

Thank you microbiology for the well throughout response.

I think I will just pull it out and start over. Would you have a recommended breed of tomato? I just want the classic red tomato for sandwiches. Do any come to mind that can take the warm weather and have disease resistance?

Thank you

Foxboro, MA

Sorry, I can't think of any off the top of my head that you might find at the garden center. We're also lucky not be be gardening in snow most years up here so I'm not really up on heat tolerant varieties. Normally I only see Big Boy, Better Boy, Early Girl, and Roma varieties at the stores around here. I don't like early girl, roma is a saucing tomato, and I've never tried big boy or better boy. I found early girl to be mealy and flavorless, like a supermarket tomato. I like my tomatoes to be flavorful and juicy. If you want to try anything on my have list just let me know and I can send you some seeds. Most of them are new to me this year. It's part of my 'no tomato left behind' program. Fourth of July tomato is a early producer so you should be able to get some tomatoes before the worst of the summer heat. I put them in the ground as seeds on 5/15 last year and had my first tomatoes on 8/4.

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