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

Erica Groneman + photo

Erica Groneman

Jun 28
3 min read
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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.

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3 comments

Paulie

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.


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