Ok..these look bad (tomatoes)

I have warmed them up, I’ve cooled them off.

I’ve moved them closer to the light, and farther from the light.

Most of the leaves on most of the plants are curling inward on themselves. A couple plants have every single leaf looking like that, but most at least look like that at the top. I’m at my wits end and I have no idea what to do. The only things I can think of would be low humidity, or root issues, although the roots I can see look very healthy and white. I’m letting the mix get fairly dry before watering, but not bone dry.

I’m in a basement indoor environment, so I have any serious doubts that it’s an insect. Although I suppose it could be. Humidity is too low for it to be anything fungal. These are Opalka and San Marzano Redorta. If it were just the Opalka plants I’d accept the answer someone gave me…which was “sometimes Opalka looks almost dead”.

It’s bad enough that I’ve begun trying to find an online or local source to buy Opalka plants in particular, because I’m not sure these are going to make it until planting time.

Do they have enough water? Try to water them from the bottom. How large the pots are? Could they be too crowded? Low humidity can cause the curl as well. I also found this on one of the Russian sites:(translated)
the edges of the leaves are curved upwards like a “boat” - twisting the leaves upwards:

  1. lack of magnesium,
  2. lack of copper.
    So may be you can use some micro elements. Same site gives following directions:
    2 tablespoons of magnesium sulfate dissolved in 10 liters of water and add 1 teaspoon of copper sulfate, dissolved in a glass of boiling water
    They suggested 2 cups per bush (I guess big bush) , so for starters it will probably be just a couple tablespoons. If you try to do that, check one or two and see if it helps. Or may be just use Miracle Gro…

I have Osmocote Plus in the mix. I can’t imagine nutrients are the issue.

The media is moist, I water them from the bottom usually, but I do top water every third watering just to make sure I rinse out any accumulated salts.

Plus, I used the same mix last year & my tomatoes did just fine. The only difference last year was that they were an even smaller pots the knees, and the room they were in was slightly warmer, but also had lower relative humidity.

What makes no sense is every other plant I’m starting in this room, under the same grow light, with the same media, is doing perfectly fine. Even peppers.

Could be a virus or could be physiological leaf roll which is non-detrimental. (I have no idea). I leaned toward virus until I saw physiological leaf roll at the link below.



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If it’s leaf curl virus the leaves on new growth will get smaller and smaller…the plant becomes basically stems…


They look very crowded and they look like they are not getting enough water.
Are they in small cell packs? If yes then the roots are restricted and need plenty of water to support all those leaves.

They’re actually 4” wide Rootmaker cells. I don’t per se need the root pruning but they’re nice and big.

I was reading up on physiological leaf roll. The only thing that doesn’t fit is I read it starts on the lower leaves. This is starting on newest leaves first.

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A little voice keeps whispering “phosphate deficiency” to me but that shouldn’t be so- I think Galinas may be onto something with her note on magnesium or copper issues. But I do think a sample trial of miracle grow might tell you something.

I have them in miracle gro potting mix along with some Osmocote Plus. I can’t imagine there’s a nutrient deficiency. Plus, I used the same exact thing last year without the same issues.

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This might be it. It says it’s caused by hot dry conditions which are mimicked under my grow light. Because of the heat gain from the 400 W of light, temperatures do get well into the 90s at the distance of a couple inches away where the plants are. And the humidity is fairly low. I thought of a fan, but a fan may dry them out more even if it reduces temperature. Plus, that might make it too cold because the ambient temperature in the basement is only around 65.

I don’t really have any way to increase the humidity in there effectively.

In my experience, Opalka’s leaves/vines are wispy. Some of other Roma type or heart shaped tomatoes leaves tend to appear like this too.

Move the light away more. Hopefully that is it as they will recover. My fan stays on 24/7. The lights go off, but not the fan. Tomatoes will not flower at 90F, even 85, they do not like it that hot for sure. Well they will flower, just won’t set fruit. If it’s not the heat it could be late blight, but doesn’t quite look like it.

I’m with Drew on suggesting to move the light away and turn on a fan. Mine grow well in temps 45 - 70. Maybe slower at these temps but sturdy. My greenhouse fans go on when temps get to 60. and they do well with a lot less light than yours are getting. Maybe it’s a case of too much instead of too little? It’s possible it could be a seed or variety thing but maybe they just need time to recover. Sue

Or, if you have a couple of nice days going, move them out outside. But probably bring them in at night.

Mother nature might improve their mood.

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By the way, I’ve grown Opalka for several years and it often looks pretty sad but still pumps out tomatoes. The first year I grew it, my mom, a master gardener, was walking around my garden and told me I better water those tomatoes or they’d be dead… I had just watered them that morning and they were fine.

It looks like a few spots on them as well as the curling, so hopefully it isn’t a disease, but overall I’d guess just too much temp and light hitting those top leaves.

I don’t know where you live, but if Arlington, VA is driveable for you and you loose these, I have about a dozen going and can certainly spare at least 8. I grow way more than I can ever use, but give them away to neighbors, the PTA plant sale, etc.

My biggest problem with Opalka is blossom end rot and I just haven’t been able to keep the watering consistent enough to get ahead of it. I just started another 3 Opalka last week and some Maxifort and RST-04-106-T rootstocks hoping that maybe growing them grafted might put a root system under them that somehow helps with the BER. They’ll be late going in at this point, but we have long enough growing season to try them as a test.


Yes, i hate this and almost all paste and heart tomatoes are like this. It is known as “wispy” foliage.They are lanky and lax and viney and then they load up with heavy fruit so they require strong and tall supports or they could lay flat on the ground.

I like Opalka, it has made my regulars list. I’m not growing it this year, as I’m trying a couple others. Romeo I’m growing this year as I’m low on seed. Trying out Cow’s Tit, and Hungarian Heart thanks to Maria! The hearts are much like pastes, some grow really well. Most taste good fresh, so a dual purpose type. If none make the cut, I will grow Opalka, Romeo, and Polish Linguisa. The latter be a late variety to keep the paste season going. So those are my go to sauce tomatoes for this area. many are great, although I know these work for me here.

It sure is frustrating for you but I give you full marks for sticking in there to find out the problem, otherwise this could repeat for you next year.

While Opalka is notorious for looking dead, here is an excerpt I found from Garden guides :

San Marzano tomato plants have historically been sensitive to disease, and in the 1970s they were almost wiped out by the cucumber mosaic virus in the Naples area. Today hybrid varieties provide some level of resistance to common diseases like verticillium and fusarium wilt. These fungal wilt diseases are found in plant debris or soil and are exacerbated by cool moist weather.


I am not sure about the too dry theory, I have periodically let my tomatoes dry out till they wilted ( not purposely) , and when they were watered the wilting disappears within an hour. So if watering does not fix the wilt, it is not too dry.