Issue: June 10, 2001

Twisted tomato plant


My tomato plant stem is growing all twisted. One is just laying on the ground all flat and twisted. What is wrong?


I discussed your question with Dr. George Dickerson, NMSU Extension Horticulture Specialist (vegetable and small fruit crops). I had considered curly top virus as a cause of your problems, but Dr. Dickerson didn't think you would see that much twisting from curly top. He asked about fertilization. He specifically asked if a "weed and feed" fertilizer was accidently used in the garden or in the lawn nearby. Some herbicides used in combination with fertilizer can cause very obvious curling and twisting of tomato (and other) plant stems and leaves.

If accidental contamination by weed killer is likely, it may be best to remove the plant rather than hope it will manage to mature some fruits. This is because the herbicide is active inside the plant and may also be present in the tomato fruits. Watch for symptoms in other nearby vegetables.

You would also be wise to contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office for more information. If herbicide is not the culprit, your Extension Service Agent should be able to help you diagnose the real problem.

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Rose seed


I noticed that there are small fruits forming on my rose bush. Why haven't I seen little rose bushes coming up under the old rose bush if these seed are good? Can I plant the seeds? How do I need to treat them? Will they grow roses like the plant that produced them?


Most people remove the rose hips (fruits) as soon as the flower fades to increase flowering. This prevents the rose plant from directing energy into the production of seeds instead of new flowers.

These seeds often have the ability to grow and produce a new rose plant, but the flowers may not be much like the parent. Most of the roses we grow (hybrid teas, floribundas, etc.) are hybrids. That means that there is a mixture of genetics from the mother and father plants. In vegetables, trees and shrubs, gardeners know that hybrid seeds do not produce plants like the parent that produced the seeds. The result may be better or worse but certainly different. If you wish to see what happens, you can plant the seeds.

The seeds will need a period of "stratification", that is a time of storage under moist, cool conditions. You can provide this by removing the mature seeds from the fruit, putting them in a plastic bag of moist compost, vermiculite, or potting soil. Place this in the refrigerator for about six weeks before planting the seeds in a pot with potting soil. Keep the newly produced plants in a greenhouse or sunny window through the winter, and plant them outside in the spring. In a year or sometimes several years, you will see the flowers produced by your seeds. Remember, the flowers may be very different from the plant from which you harvested the seeds.

Please join us on Southwest Yard & Garden, a weekly garden program made for gardeners in the Southwest, broadcast on KRWG-Las Cruces on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m., Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays at 1:00 p.m.; KENW-Portales on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m.; and KNME-Albuquerque on Saturdays at 12:00 noon, and Fridays at 2:30 p.m.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!