Troubleshooting Tomato Problems

Category Growing Food
If your tomato harvest is disappointing due to disease, pests, or growing conditions there some easy solutions to your gardening issues. This is a page about troubleshooting tomato problems.


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One of the greatest joys of the gardening season is harvesting plump juicy tomatoes. If your harvest is less than you hoped for this year, here is a page to diagnosing and treating some common tomato troubles.
Symptom Possible Causes Possible Cures
Young plants dying Fertilizer burn Mix fertilizer in thoroughly with soil.
Disease (damping-off) Treat seed; avoid over watering.
Stunted plants Low soil fertility Test soil to determine fertilizer needs.
Stunted plants-pale yellow in color Low soil pH (too acid) Test soil for lime recommendations.
Poor soil drainage Increase drainage by adding organic matter.
Shallow compacted soil Work soil to greater depth
Insects or diseases Identify and use control measures.
Nematodes Test soil and treat as recommended.
Symptom Possible Causes Possible Cures
Stunted plants-purplish in color Temperatures too cool Plant at recommended time
Lack of phosphorus Add phosphorus fertilizer
Holes in leaves Insects Identify and control as recommended
Hail Be thankful your plants are still standing!
Spots, molds, darkened areas on leaves and stems Disease Identify, spray or dust with environmentally safe control, use disease resistant varieties.
Fertilizer burn Keep fertilizer off plants
Symptom Possible Causes Possible Cures
Wilting plants Dry soil Excess water in soil Irrigate consistently Drain if possible, reduce watering until soil is dry
Nematodes Test soil and treat as recommended
Disease Use resistant varieties if possible
Symptom Possible Causes Possible Cures
Weak, spindly plants Too much shade Excessive water Move to sunny location Avoid over watering
Plants planted too thickly Excess of nitrogen Space plants farther apart Avoid over fertilization
Blossoms appear, but few fruits develop Temperatures too hot Plant at recommended times
Excessive nitrogen Avoid excessive fertilization
Insects Identify and control as needed
Tomato leaf curl Heavy pruning in hot weather Dont prune in hot weather
Disease Identify and control as needed
Dry brown to black rot on blossom end of tomato Low soil calcium levels Amend soil with lime
Excessively dry soil. Amend soil with lime. Irrigate if possible
Symptom Possible Causes Possible Cures
Misshapen tomatoes (cat facing) Blooming during cool temperatures Plant at recommended time
Abnormal leaves and growth Damages from weed killer Use chemical-free methods to combat weeds.
Virus disease Remove infested plants to prevent spreading. Control virus transmitting insects.
Deep holes chewed in fruits Bird or chipmunk damage Slip nylon stockings over fruit to prevent access.
Concentric cracks in fruit around stems Growth cracks Consume cracked fruit quickly. Mulch plants and keep soil evenly moist while fruit ripens
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May 19, 2020

My tomato plants have never looked better until a day ago when just like two others I planted, they just looked like they grew into something that is causing them to die. There is no discoloration; the color is perfect. I had two other plants in the same spot that when only a foot and a half tall fell ill.


I left that spot empty and removed the soil, but these plants are huge, full of tomatoes, but now are just wilting away. It's like they just gave up.


May 19, 20200 found this helpful
Best Answer

Do the roots look normal? Could be nematodes eating away at them (you'll see knuckles or knots on the roots). Or could be a virus or fungus carried by other insects (I think you'll see leaf or stem damage if so. Wilting starts at the newest leaves with a fungus, and the oldest with a bacterial infection.) So disappointing when nature has her way some times. Try try again! :-)

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May 22, 20200 found this helpful
Best Answer

It almost sounds like your ground has root knot disease that is caused by a small bug in the soil. They get on the plants roots and attach to the roots of the plants.


As they grow the knots on the roots grow and suck all the life out of the plants. I had them here and what needs to be done is the soil has to be put under a black tarp and the heat has to kill them.

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June 12, 2019

I have 8 tomato plants that are about 3 foot tall and are covered in blooms and a few tomatoes. They were doing fine until about 2 weeks ago when I noticed the two Cherokee tomatoes started wilting on the top. It has been a hot and dry spring so I was watering them about every 3 days at night. Then a week ago it cooled off and rained for 4 days and we got about 5 inches of rain. It looks like someone has poured hot water on them. They are not turning yellow and have no blemishes on them. I pulled one up and the roots look good and the soil was not soggy. I know the other 4 plants I have down the row from them are starting to wilt on the top. I sprayed them with a fungi spray. I do have a few large black walk nut trees about 20 feet away. Please help.


June 12, 20190 found this helpful

Water and mulch them so the water doesnt evaporate.

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June 12, 20190 found this helpful

I have had the same problem with my one plant I made a hot house for. It was hot and dry in May and I pinched off the suckers. I just read that heavy pruning in hot weather can cause the leaves to curl.


I do have some large healthy looking tomatoes on that plant that I'm expecting to get ripe soon. However, now we are having cool, wet weather so I don't know how that will affect the tomatoes.

We needed the rain but not all at once. Crazy weather we are having.

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