I live in Marin Co. California, where summers have been mostly hot and dry, winters mild with rain. All my plants are in pots, excepting the trees that were already here when we moved in 15 years ago. This year my tomato plants again look pale and scraggly, with strange tunnel-like marks on the leaves. Tomatoes taste fine, mostly cherries.

My roses and fuschias also look like hell, leaves look spotted or purple-y, and few to no blooms. I've given the 3 roses 3-in-one fungicide/insecticide twice this season. My rhodie has a fungus again, and my Japanese maple up and died!

I'd love to know if this is related to global warming (it has been 95 or so most days this summer) or something about the soil in the pots maybe? I'm giving some fertilizer, not a lot -- regular but not frequent watering. Other plants are doing all right, but some not blooming.

  • Questions: how long have the roses been in the same pots, and are they small patio roses or bigger varieties? How long have the fuchsias been in the same pots, and are they in sun or shade? How often do you water the pots and in what manner (with a spray on the end of a hose, irrigation system, watering can, etc)?
    – Bamboo
    Sep 1, 2013 at 11:01

2 Answers 2


I will bet you are not watering enough. In that sort of weather tomatoes in pots probably need to be watered every day. Maybe more often than that if the pots are standard clay pots, not plastic which doesn't dry out quite as fast. The tunnel-like marks could be leaf miner but I will bet that is related to the lack of water. Leaf miner is not that common for tomatoes.

You might think about investing in an inexpensive drip irrigation system. They are easy to set and completely take the drudgery out of growing things that way.


Depending on the hardness of your water, you might also consider whether you are getting built up "salts" in your pot's soil. This could possibly cause some of the problems you are seeing.

You might want to re-pot some of the perennials once they have gone dormant, and see if bringing fresh soil into the planter helps them out next spring. You can also spring for a soil test to see if any of your main nutrients or the pH is significantly off.

Also, are your plants in regular soil, or potting soil? Regular soil can be a real problem in pots because the structure and composition really isn't made for that kind of environment.

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