Purple leaves/stems on WS toms only

emcd124(5)May 12, 2013

This year was pretty much a categorical fail across the board for my WSing. Last year was a dream and I used the MIracle Grow Water Retention stuff--in other words the stuff everyone says not to use. This year I searched high and low for ProMix, happily sowed everything and the results were so disappointing. Half of what I sowed never came up even after 2 straight weeks of day temps in the 70+

My tomatoes are the worst. Of the 8 varieties I WSed, only two have small but healthy looking sprouts with true leaves. The rest are tiny, spindly, with deep purpling on the stem and leaves. They are runts with curling suffering leaves.

An internet search suggests this is usually because of cold temps (which may additionally inhibit Phosporus uptake). However: 1) this purpling has persisted, perhaps even worsened, during the last two weeks when we finally got great temps around 70+ during the day and 55+ at night. 2) worried that my WS plants werent germinating I used the same seeds, the same soilless mix, and sowed some tom seeds inside. They stayed inside only until the first green poked up and then they went straight outside with the rest, but they are now considerably taller and healthier than their WS siblings of the same tomato variety and same seed stock (see Cherokee Purple below, WS in the jug compared to its sibling in the solo cup).

Can some more experienced WS person help me understand why my WS tomatoes seem so much more sickly and what if anything to do about the purpling on those? should I transplant them out of their WS jugs?

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sandysoil_2008(6 MA)

I can't offer any suggestions regarding your WS tomatoes. I've never seen that purpling. My WS has been very bad this year also. At least a third of my jugs have no sprouts. This year I decided to start my tomatoes indoors which worked out great since WSing was so bad. On nice days, I'd put them outside and bring them in at night. A few jugs (zinnia, lupine, thyme, perilla frutescens) are doing great but most of the others only have a few sprouts if any.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 11:20AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

My tomatoes are the same as yours, just totally stagnant. Earlier last week I started to transplant to individual containers and they're showing signs of growing true leaves now. But they're way behind where they normally are. I've been doing this for years and it's the first time it feels like a massive failure for the tomatoes. Only the cherokee purples formed true leaves on time and they're now in the garden and seem to be doing fine.

I wouldn't question the technique -- I used the same potting soil I always use and many other plants came up just fine. Not sure where you are, but our weather was cold and damp with little sun through most of the winter and early spring.

I did start three tomatoes inside to use with the walls o'water. They went in the ground near the beginning of April and they're about a foot and a half tall now, so at least there's that. I also had a few volunteers under one of the walls o'water so I potted them up and just planted them out on Saturday.

I also used your idea on the peppers and eggplant -- put them in the window till they sprouted then right outside. They seem to be doing fine, much better than the tomatoes. And of course as soon as I had done that, the peppers I wintersowed came up. Isn't that always the way? :)


    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 6:24AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hi Emc, I am sorry to hear about your WS seedlings not doing so well. So you used the same Pro mix in both the WS containers and inside? Wow what a difference!

The only thing I can think is that it has something to do with the growing conditions outside. Temperature or rainfall? Sometimes if there is a lot of rain, and the container isn't covered, I think it could leach all the nutrients out of the container.

I used Promix as usual and my seedlings have been exceptionally nice this year. Mine are still mostly covered. Also the annuals are under the eaves of the house so I have to water them regularly. After they get their true leaves, I try to water the seedlings with a dilute liquid fertilizer every week or two.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 10:57AM
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This year tried some thing a bit diffrent. Tall solo cups with potting soil then put them in a large clear tote. I ws all my seeds this way this year ( shortage of milk jugs). I left them on the porch near the house till they sprouted kept the lid on , seems it cracked so sort of vents well. One thing they been doing great with these strange new lows temps, tonight it is getting colder so moved closer to the house on the porch. Moved other non ws tomato plants into unheated garage with fig trees.

Figure my WS ones will be fine no matter what hits tonight. 39 now and dropping.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 12:12AM
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stlgirl(6a MO)

I had purple stems years ago on some seedlings I did indoors. Feeding them some diluted plant food helped them grow out of it and get back to putting out some green leaves.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 11:40AM
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If the phosphorus deficiency isn't from cold then it's probably time to give some nutrients as far as the purple coloring goes. However, I'm wondering were they in shade and moved to sun too fast? Sorta looks like the leaves got scorched a bit?


    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 12:59PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

A week or less after transplanting from the jugs to individual cups has really helped my tomatoes -- they're all starting to put out true leaves now. They'll be in the garden by Sunday (I hope). I read somewhere that just transplanting them can help wake them up and it seems to have worked. I'm really hesitating about giving even a diluted feeding to something so small, just afraid of burning them out.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 1:16PM
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