Tomato Plants Dying from Top Down

Category Vegetables
Determining what is causing your plants to suffer isn't always easy. This page is about tomato plants dying from the top down.


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August 25, 2005


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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June 2, 2013

I have 10 huge Amelia tomato plants in tubs with tomatoes all over them, one of them has already died. I have another one starting to do the same thing. The first one died before being fertilized. The second one afterward.


By Eugene H from Jay, FL

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