How To Buy Tomato Plants – Common Problems to Avoid

Choosing Healthy Tomato Plants

Avoid these mistakes when buying tomato plants this spring.

Think of it like the Seven Dwarfs but with modified spelling, different names and no cottage deep in the woods. (I need to be sensitive of copyright laws.)
When you head out to the nursery or garden center, skip along and sing “Whistle While You Garden, ta da da da da da daaa”! You’ll be happily taking home the Fairest Tomatoes in the Land!Choosing Healthy Tomato Plants
  1. WIMPY: A weak central stem is not ideal. Although you might want to nurse it back to life with some “chicken soup”, look for strong main stems instead.
  2. YELLOWY: Plants with light colored leaves should be left behind. Opt for full, dark green foliage. If you’ve been working in the mine all day and can’t tell what color the leaves are, ask a friend for help.
  3. CURLY: Inspect the leaf tips. Does that tomato variety characteristically have curled leaves? If not, pass up any plants showing stress from over-watering, excessive light or staring into the magic mirror too long.
  4. SPOTTY: Dark spots and a slight curl could mean there’s an evil fungus. Also look closely for tiny black specks – aphids. If someone offers you an apple while browsing the tomato plants, politely decline!
  5. HOLEY: Holes in the leaves might be snail or hornworm damage. Tomato hornworms drop their poop pellets everywhere and never wash their hands before dinner.
  6. EARLY: Some nurseries fertilize tomatoes like crazy in the beginning and they start producing fruit too soon. Seeing proof of fruit forming on a seedling does not guarantee that the plant will be a good one – just one symptom of a common disorder called “Tomato Jealously“.
  7. SCORCHY: Leaf-burn could be caused by root injury from too much fertilizer, nematodes, insects or rough handling. Or too much kissing of the leaves to awake them from a terrible curse. Stop that!

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