My beefsteak tomato is setting lots of fruit, but the larger leaves are curling, and have fine black spots.

The pot is 24x24 inches, and the soil is miracle gro. It's new in this pot this year. The temperatures have been 75-80F degrees and windy, but it is pretty protected from the wind (? It is a sunken patio). I've sprayed it twice with epsom salts and water, only have tap water, and water it about a gallon every two days if really hot and sunny. Every two weeks will give it a good deep soaking. There's no smoking anywhere near it.

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  • Need more pictures, sweetie. Close ups of the leaves, stems and where the plant and soil meet. Pictures of the entire plant and need to know what you've fertilized it with, any 'treatments', how you decide to water it and how often. What kind of water you are using (tap?), how much sun this guy gets. Twisted leaves are indicative of a virus. One of the most common viruses is Mosaic Virus on tomatoes. Caused by tobacco users. Do you smoke? Heh, heh...if you do or a friend that visits does, get that tomato away from the smoke and do NOT TOUCH with fingers that have held a ciggy!!
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 19:28
  • What have been the temperature highs been in your area this past week, in Fahrenheit? I never grow tomatoes in pots as the roots get too hot in mid-summer and the roots get stressed, which means the plant gets more disease.
    – Bulrush
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 19:06
  • Added more pictures
    – Bre
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 20:31
  • Potvis 24x24 inches, soil is miracle grow, new in pot this year, temp has been 75 a- 80 degrees and windy but it is pretty protected from the wind (? It is a sunken patio). Sprayed it twice with epsom salts and water, only have tap water, and water it about a gallon every two days if really hot and sunny. Every two weeks will givevit a good deep soaking. No smoking anywhere near it.
    – Bre
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 20:38
  • How is the drainage in that pot? Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 20:49

5 Answers 5


It looks as if the roots haven't enough room - how big is the pot the plant is in? And I'm rather wondering if that circular rim I can see sticking slightly above the soil is actually a small pot which has been sunk into a larger one, with the plant inside that.

Each tomato plant should be growing in a 5 gallon 9 inch or 27cm pot as a minimum - if the roots don't have sufficient space, that could cause the lower leaves to shrivel up.

The other possibility is blight - with that you should be able to discern distinct rings or circular patches of brown before the whole leaf starts to shrivel; it starts at the bottom parts of the plant and eventually shows symptoms on stems and then fruits, but I'm not seeing those symptoms particularly here. I only mention it because you speak of 'black spots', so check the images and information in the link below


Otherwise, root knot nematode might be an issue, but there are various problems tomatoes can have - there's a list of these problems with descriptions here


along with action to take,including for root knot nematodes.

  • 1
    That metal ring looks like support for the plant Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 5:45
  • 1
    The pot is huge, about 24 x 24 inches,
    – Bre
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 20:33
  • And the circular thing at soil level? What is it?
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 21:59
  • 1
    that is a ring of the Tomatoe cage........
    – Bre
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 1:32

Looks like too much water, try some coffee grounds with ground egg shell in it, water it less since the other leaves look healthy, and call me in 2 weeks.

  • 1
    Why do you use coffee grounds and egg shells (nitrogen, acidity, calcium) but WHY? Especially if you think it has been overwatered?! Just the rationale please, grins. My own doctors have been chosen for their patience with this patient. They will earn their moola by gosh and by golly.
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 19:31
  • I saw the videos, and we're getting great results this year after planting them, and i snuck that stuff on top of it.. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 6:57
  • 1
    So this is based on your initial experiments, huh? Cause and effect are very different when talking about plants, soils, biology...there are already lots of great experiments and studies done on plants. There IS NO SPECIAL magic sweetiepie. If you can't explain right down to the molecules you are only guessing. I want to know about the pH, the soils you started with, what you want to achieve, what the chemistry of coffee grounds is as well as egg shells. You know, I've NEVER done these things other than composting. And I NEVER have problems (except for living over 4,000 ft).
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 6:29

Looks like you have automatic watering. What is the schedule? Doesn't look like you have or will have problems with the dang tap water, this is an annual afterall. Pots GROW GREAT tomatoes!! Just cut off those bottom leaves that are non producers of food for your tomato and cut off those curled leaves. Sterilize bypass pruners with alcohol...keep your fertilizer sparse and definitely the first number less than the last two numbers. This tomato should do just fine. Your plant looks very healthy...no smokers, can't imagine if these curled leaves are even a problem. Cut leaves off at the main stem. As long as this pot has no rock, gravel at the bottom and is full of just potting soil...water deeply and allow to dry down to an inch before watering again. That pot would do best to be raised off the surface so there is an air gap to facilitate drainage. Otherwise watch for powdery mildew which is common when plants are in pots under a roof and protected from wind. Easy to control...if you get this ask away and we'll tell you how to treat and prune.

  • It is on a wheeled pot stand with a mesh like base. So good air circulation. I will trim the leaves and any others that look affected. Will see how it does.
    – Bre
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 1:35
  • Tomatoes aren't annuals, they're only annuals in colder climates. Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 17:11
  • Whoa, got me there!! Gees, louise. I do believe that is still the same dang definition if one lives with a winter. ARGGGHH
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 21:46

It's a Phosphorus Deficiency.


I'd wager that it's the result of too little P to handle that many flowers. I can't tell from the picture if you've got the suckers all pruned. (Suckers are the shoots that grow just above the terminal (sun) leaflets).

I would prune that gal if I were in your shoes. I'd take the main stems down to 1 or 2, and be sure all the suckers were lopped. Ime, you'll still get more, better fruit off of 1 or 2 than the 4 you have, because the nutrient/water uptake will be more focused.

This is just anecdotal, but with the fruits/veggies I've grown where there's debate over whether it's better to have more flowering stems or one stem with more flowers, I invariably have better performance with the latter.

Here's a good pruning guide, and it applies well even if you're not as concerned with space as they are (that's why I might keeping 2 main stems instead of just 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPf7a96eOlQ

For feeding, the retail tomato CRF (9-4-12) CRF just doesn't have enough P to meet the demands of a heavy-flowering tomato plant. Switching to a heavier P fertilizer in late season is necessary, or you get so-so fruit and purpling.

I usually use a 10-10-10 CRF, with lime and epsom mixed into the medium and some epsom spray later in the year - but Miracle Gro shake and feed "For Palms" is an 8-8-8 with micronutrients built-in, and it's a lot less work.

I don't see anything you've written about what you've fed it. If you haven't fed at all, relying on the fertilizer in the potting mix, that's almost certainly the issue.

Don't get me wrong, Miracle Gro, for as much flak as they get from some folks, does make good products. It's not that the MG mix is bad, it's that tomatoes are heavy feeders.

My recommendation: to keep it simple, get the 8-8-8 Miracle Gro Shake 'n' Feed from Amazon. (I've never seen it in box stores, but have at nurseries. It's price there is usually inflated.)

If you don't want to lose a week before the feeding (shipping), order the CRF and pick up a small package / vial of liquid soluable fertilizer at the store to tide you over. It's a good thing to have on hand, even if you're only going to use it once on the beefsteak.

The 8-8-8 is a great all-around fertilizer for fruits and veggies. The MG "all-purpose" is better for decorative plants with moderate flowering.

Good luck!


I concur with Paul Nardini that the purple leaves are due to the plant not taking in enough phosphorus. Necrotic spots can also be a classic symptom.

Curled and/or twisted leaves potentially with nectrotic spots are a symptom of copper deficiency, although other things can cause that, too. I honestly don't think you have copper deficiency there, by the way things look, but I thought I'd throw that out there. I wouldn't worry too much about the curling unless it gets significantly worse.

Any blue fertilizer probably has copper in it (I'm not sure if it's an ideal amount, considering a deficiency), but you can get copper by itself, too.

As for phosphorus, unless you also need more nitrogen (which you might), I'd just recommend giving it a dose of monopotassium phosphate. That seems to work pretty well for my plants. I haven't always had reliable results with the standard comprehensive NPK fertilizers (especially bright colored ones). Some NPK fertilizers are pretty good, though. I tend to prefer to use my own fertilizer combinations. I can be sure to get the ones and forms I want that won't cause issues I'm wanting to avoid (like I don't want them to contain chloride salts or calcium nitrate, because they can harm soil organisms, I've read).

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