Tomato Plant Dying From the Top Down


We planted 2 tomato plants in our garden and one is dying even though it has about 7 huge beefsteak green tomatoes on it. Can anyone tell me what would make it die from the top down and not from the ground up? The other plant is still lush and healthy.


Shirl of PA


Dear Shirl,

Several diseases can cause tomatoes to wilt from the top down. Your tomato plant could be suffering from a major bacterial disease such as Verticillium wilt or Fusarium wilt or it may be afflicted with Pith Necrosis.

Fungi that inhabit the soil and infect the plant through the roots cause both Verticillium wilt and Fusarium wilt. Damage results from the pathogen invading the water-conduction tissues (xylem) of the plant. Although symptoms of these two diseases are similar, Fusarium wilt tends to occur around midsummer when air and soil temperatures are highest. Often one side of the plant or branch will turn yellow and if sliced open, the xylem tissue in the stem will appear reddish brown. Symptoms of Verticillium wilt are similar, except the wilting is not restricted to one side of the plant of branch and this wilt tends to occur in late spring.


Pith Necrosis symptoms include thick stemmed plants with large canopies. The upper part of the plant may begin to wilt, and black streaks may be present along the length of the stem, which then becomes spongy and collapses.

In all three of these cases, affected plants should be immediately removed from the garden.

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August 16, 20050 found this helpful This website might be helpful. One very common problem with tomato plants is root rot. I believe this happens when the roots get too wet. But I think it would likely be happening to both plants. Have you noticed any markings on the leaves that would lead you to believe that the plant is being destroyed by some pest or insect? Tomato horn worms are very destructive. A wonderful, cheap and completely organic insecticide is called BT, or Bacillis Thuriengis. You can purchase it at most garden supply stores, and Lowes or Home Depot. You want to find something in which the main ingredient is BT. You sprinkle this powder on the plant about every 7 days, and repeat it after watering or when it rains. If you have an insect infestation, this will probably help. Your healthy plant should also be dusted, because if your plant has some disease, it could easily spread and destroy both plants. Digging the healthy plant up at this late stage in the season is NOT a good idea, so the best remedy you probably have is to determine what is destroying the plant, and to get rid of whatever it is, and make sure that you find a way to protect the healthy plant from being destroyed. HTH.

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August 28, 20050 found this helpful

Make sure the plant is NOT in the vicinity of a black walnut tree. We had this wilting problem for a few years before we found out you cannot have tomatoes within 50 feet of the drip line of the tree.

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