How To Identify, Control, Treat, or Troubleshoot Tomato Plant Problems

Erica Groneman + photo

Erica Groneman

Jun 28
3 min read
bubble 3
tomatoes on the vine with blossom end rot

Your garden is probably in full swing and you’re starting to enjoy the fruits of your labors. How are your tomato plants doing? You may be seeing abnormal signs in your tomato plant indicating something’s not quite right. Let’s see if we can troubleshoot a few common issues with tomatoes.

Black Bottomed Tomatoes - Blossom End Rot

This is called blossom end rot and is relatively common for tomatoes. It’s caused by a calcium imbalance in the plant. Avoid this problem by maintaining consistent water to your tomato plant (not too much or too little water). To treat the black bottom problem and end the season with some good harvest, pick off the affected fruit (otherwise they’ll just take needed nutrients from the plant and future fruit) and stick to a consistent watering plan. By doing these two things your tomato plant will most likely correct itself. Also, note that you can still eat tomatoes with blossom end rot–just cut off the black part.

Spotted Tomato Leaves

If your tomato plant develops spots on the leaves, this is a sign of disease. Usually, these diseases start on the leaves closest to the ground. Remove leaves that have the disease (you can remove up to a third of a tomato plant’s leaves without harming the plant). To prevent disease, water the soil under the plant and not the leaves. Use mulch to cover the base of your tomato plant. Also, try not to plant your tomato plant in the same place in your garden every year. Note: Don’t can or eat fruit that has been infected by disease and have spots.

Big Bushy Green Foliage Growth And Few Blossoms And Tomatoes

If you have a big green bushy tomato plant with just a few flowers, first check to see what variety of tomato you have, and the estimated days to maturity. Some tomato plants simply take longer to develop blossoms and fruit. Another likely cause is too much fertilizer or too much nitrogen in the fertilizer. Check the NPK of the fertilizer you applied. The first number (nitrogen) should not be higher than the other two numbers; otherwise, you are telling your plant to grow leaves and not fruit. If you have been using a balanced fertilizer, your plant could be over-fertilized, so wait to fertilize until fruit appears and is growing. Be sure to give your tomato plant consistent water, as an inconsistent watering schedule could also be the cause of lots of leaves and not blossoms.

Whole Stems and Branches Missing From Your Tomato Plant - Tomato Hornworm

If you come out one day and notice a whole stem or section of your tomato plant is missing, a Tomato Hornworm is most likely the culprit. Tomato hornworms are giant green caterpillars with a horn on their tail. They are capable of eating leaves, entire stems, and fruit of tomato plants. They can be devastating if not found. Tomato hornworms are excellent at camouflage and can be difficult to find. Manually removing them is the only real remedy to save your tomato plant.

Drooping/Wilting Tomato Plant

If your tomato plant is drooping or sagging, this is most likely caused by a lack of water. As we’ve said previously, consistent watering is important to tomato plants. Tomatoes also don’t stand up if they are not getting enough sunlight, so make sure your tomatoes are planted in a sunny spot that gets at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

For more detailed information on how to grow and harvest tomatoes check-out our Free Downloadable Vegetable Growing Guide PDF.

Become a True Leaf Market Brand Ambassador! You’ll enjoy awesome perks, free products and exclusive swag & offers! Help us create a gardening revolution and help others experience the joy of growing!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



This was so helpful to me, a newbie at gardening at 73!

Stef McCabe

Thsnk you for info; an issuevi have this year is leaves curling, and, yes, when i brought the plant home; i read it was a virus and to get rid of the plsnt; i didnt; its bearing fruit, but not up to par. Thoughts?

Ida McCarty

Thanks for the information. I was getting tomato rot, and I solved the issue by putting broken eggshells in the soil and mixing it in thoroughly.

  1. Piet Oudolf: Embracing the Naturalistic Gardenquaking grass perennial

    Piet Oudolf: Embracing the Naturalistic Garden

    Written By Lara Wadsworth Piet Oudolf is a world renowned Dutch garden designer. His designs are focused on a naturalistic approach to enjoy the ever changing beauty offered by plants in their various stages of life. His designs have played a role in t...

    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    7 min read
    bubble 0
  2. Memorial Day Exclusive: Triple Points on All Purchases!memorial day sale - triple rewards points on all purchases

    Memorial Day Exclusive: Triple Points on All Purchases!

    Triple Points For All True Leaf Market Loyalty Members Now Through May 27th, 2024 For every dollar you spend in our store at (excluding tax & shipping costs), you can earn triple the rewards points now through May 27th, 2024, which a...

    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    2 min read
    bubble 1
  3. Alice Waters: Cultivating the Farm-To-Table MovementHands holding fresh potatoes with other vegetables on the table

    Alice Waters: Cultivating the Farm-To-Table Movement

    Written By Lara Wadsworth The farmers grow the food, the people eat the food. That’s how it goes, right? Well, that’s how it is supposed to be. What really happens is the farmers grow the food, the suppliers buy the food, then store it, and then ship i...

    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    7 min read
    bubble 0
  4. 10 California Natives for Organic Pest Controlcalifornia poppy

    10 California Natives for Organic Pest Control

    Written By Lara Wadsworth Whether you call California home or not, we can all agree it is a beautiful state. From the alluring coastline to the towering redwoods, the natural meadows, and rugged mountains, California is a place all its own. How can you...

    Ashleigh Smith + photo

    Ashleigh Smith

    6 min read
    bubble 1