You’ve put a lot of work into your tomato plants. You’ve fertilized, watered, nursed, and babied, only to notice that your tomato garden progress is beginning to wane.
Slowly, your tomato plant has turned yellow and stopped growing. The leaves begin curling and turning a dark purple color. You can’t help but wonder if perhaps you killed your own plants! Did you water them too much or too little? What on earth do these deep dark purple leaves mean?
A Tomato’s Worst Nightmare
If tomatoes could dream, they would probably aspire to be plump, juicy, and strong. But what would you find in a typical tomato nightmare? More than likely you would come to face to face with a Beet Leafhopper.
Okay, so what is a Beet Leafhopper?
A Beet Leafhopper is the infamous wedge-shaped insect that carries the dreaded Curly Top Virus. They are known to take nutrients from plant leaves and stems. As a courtesy, they also infect their host with a virus that they transmit from plant to plant.
This little insect migrates with other little virus-carrying buddies, and can cause a plants growth to become stunted. They leave the leaves shriveled, curled, and burned. If fruit production continues on the infected plant, it ends up being deformed or prematurely ripened.
The Beet Leafhopper is a small insect that can bring a lot of trouble to a garden! Well, at least you can take solace in knowing that your curly, purple-leafed tomato plants are not a product of your negligence, but of a natural enemy who thinks of your garden as an ‘all you can eat’ buffet.
What can you do?
There’s a possibility that your tomato plant could be suffering from a Phosphorus deficiency. This can result in purple leaves, delayed fruit, and just all around slow plant growth. Try having your soil tested for nutrient deficiencies.
If your soil tests fine, but you still have deep dark purple leaves, then your tomato plants are either not getting enough water, or they’ve been infected by the migrating Beet Leafhopper. If your tomato plants are not getting enough water, then you can always set up a well-balanced watering program.
Tomatoes, like other plants, tend to respond well to scheduled care and well-rounded moisture.
The best way to deal with the Beet Leafhopper is to prevent it. As the name implies, it hops from one person’s garden to the next. Since it migrates, trying to protect the affected plants with a spray is pretty pointless.
Once the insect attacks your tomato plants, you’ll start to notice the damage in one to two weeks. By then, the Beet Leafhopper clan has already moved on to its next plant victims.
Fortunately, tomatoes are not this insect’s favorite food. But even if the Beet Leafhopper deems your tomato plant worthy enough for a taste test snack, it can still infect it with Curly Top Virus. For this reason, you can try making your tomato garden as unattractive as possible.
How do you make your tomatoes unattractive to the Beet Leafhopper? Should you try dressing your tomatoes up in mix match clothing? Although they may find it odd, it’s doubtful that the Beet Leafhoppers would fall for such a scheme! However, you could try planting flowers the insect finds offensive.
Try planting marigolds, petunias, and geraniums with your tomatoes. The Beet Leafhopper doesn’t like these plants, and may very well pass over your garden. Hopefully this will help keep your tomato garden purple-leaf free.