Curling tomato branches and leaf ailments

dt3ktApril 30, 2011

I live in an apartment on the 3rd floor and am trying my hand at container gardening with tomatoes and a variety of hot peppers. Most of my hot pepper look pretty good, albeit for 2 months of growth they are still at about 3-5 inches in height. My tomatoes (1 is a bloody butcher and the other is a Black Krim) started off very well and shot up to about 18 inches without any problems. In the past two weeks they have seem stunted in growth and have begun to develop leaf and branch curling.

This branch has almost curled into a double circle. The curling is only happening on newer grown branches

At this same time I noticed what I think are aphids (they look like little black flies).

I started trying to control with with a mix of dish soap and water spray. After a week of using that spray and the little buggers seemed to keep multiplying I have now started using Ortho Elementals Spray to try controlling them better. Now within the past few days I've noticed the leaves on one of the plants have developed some spots that look like it's watersoaked and other leaves have see through "bullet holes".

This is the "water-soaked" looking leaves on the older growths on the plant.

And these are the bullet holes on the leaves, also on the older plant growth.

I'm nearly at my wits end in trying to control whatever has taken control of my plants. These were started from seed in Feb. and I'm almost to the point of pulling them, throwing them away and just buying pre-grown seedlings from a local garden source. Any ideas, suggestions or help would be appreciated.

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You might try a 60/40 rubbing alcohol to warm water spray. Gentle on plants and should get the flies pretty well. Soapy water seemed to make my tomatoes unhappy when I used it for aphids, alcohol does not seem to effect them thus far, but only been spraying it for a few days.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 11:08PM
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Looks like too much water. You can just re-pot into a dry mix or try wicking the moisture out by placing the pots on an absorbent material or by using a shoe lace. I've, also, had good success by stuffing paper towels into the holes at the bottom of the pot.

The pot I see reminds me of the plastic ones that have a saucer attached. If this is what you are using, make sure that water is removed from the saucer after each watering. That water will wick back up into the medium making it constantly moist.

The photo you posted of an aphid looks like a fly to me. If you have small flying insects that multiply rapidly, it could be fungus gnats. An application of BTi, followed by another 7-10 days later should take care of them. (Dissolve 1/4 of a mosquito dunk in 1 gallon of water.)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 9:28AM
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I just had another thought. The curling of the leaves can be caused by sucking insects on the under side of the leaves. Mites can be so small that they can't be seen by the naked eye. Place a piece of white paper under the leaf and tap it. If you see little specs it could be mites. Run you finger across the specs, if they smear, they are mites.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 9:32AM
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I also think it may be too much water or too poorly draining mix. Tomatoes and peppers both like as much sun as they can get, are yours in the full sun? If they are outside where the predators can get to them you will have less insect problems. Al

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 10:02PM
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