Removing a few lower leaves that have started to turn yellow or have been half eaten by a slug is a good idea. It helps to keep plants healthy by not giving insects and germs decaying leaves to feed on and helps create more air flow around the base of the plants.
If you are growing in a greenhouse, aeration is particularly important and helps reduce condensation and fungal/mould problems.
Remove leaf branches gradually so as not to stress plants. Snapping off their leaf branches rather than cutting them off is best because using a blade can transfer disease from plant to plant. This also applies when removing side shoot, so snap them off too!
A Common Leaf Problem
This is around the time of the season when tomato leaves begin to show signs of damage, disease or deficiency.
If you haven’t grown tomatoes before, poorly looking leaves around the bottom of a plant can be alarming. However, it is quite normal for leaves to show all sorts of spots, freckles and unexpected colours and the plant still be healthy enough to produce tomatoes.
Tomato plants send their nutrients to the growing tip (on a tall variety) or tips (on a bush variety) and the lower, older leaves get hardly any food at all!
Here’s a good example of old yellow leaves that have been removed.
Nothing to worry about, just remove the leaf branches and the rest of the plant will be fine.
Yellowing in lower leaves is caused by nutrient deficiency as the plant send its food to the growing tip.
As mentioned above, keeping things tidy around the base of the stem helps to:
- Reduce disease
- Helps stop insects breeding
- Increases air flow
- Keeps lower leaves off the soil
These are especially important in wet conditions or in a greenhouse where there is condensation and less air flow.