Troubleshooting Tomato Plant Issues: A Guide to Healthy Harvests

Tomatoes, with their versatile nature and bountiful fruit, are a popular choice for many gardeners. While they can encounter a range of problems, don’t let that discourage you from growing these delicious crops. With proper care and attention, you can overcome these challenges and enjoy a thriving tomato garden. In this guide, we’ll explore common tomato plant issues and provide practical solutions to ensure your plants stay healthy.

Blossom End Rot: Blackening of the Fruit’s Bottom

One common issue, known as blossom end rot, occurs when the bottom of the tomatoes turn black. This is typically caused by inadequate calcium and water supply, watering the plants from above, or insufficient ventilation. To combat this problem, it is essential to feed your plants with tomato fertilizer weekly or bi-weekly as soon as the first tiny tomatoes appear. Additionally, opt for regular small amounts of watering rather than infrequent heavy watering to prevent drying out. Remember to water the soil, not the plants, and keep the vents and doors open for proper airflow.

Brown Patches on Leaves: Possible Causes and Remedies

When brown patches appear on the leaves, it could indicate magnesium deficiency, tomato blight, or Fusarium wilt. To address magnesium deficiency, feed your plants with liquid tomato fertilizer on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, blight and wilt are untreatable conditions, requiring the affected plants to be uprooted and either burned or disposed of in the grey bin. Blight, a fast-spreading fungal disease, primarily affects outdoor tomatoes and causes rotting, browning, collapsing, and shriveling of leaves and stems. It’s important to note that magnesium deficiency only causes brown patches and doesn’t lead to plant rot and collapse. To prevent reoccurrence, avoid planting tomatoes, potatoes, or aubergines in the same location for several years.

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Stem Issues: Identifying Problems and Taking Action

Brown patches on the stems can be attributed to tomato blight or Fusarium wilt. On the other hand, dead or rotten patches may indicate a disease called Didymella, with no known cure. In such cases, uproot the affected plants and dispose of them accordingly. Distorted foliage, often a result of exposure to fumes from lawn weed killers or hormone weed killers, should be kept away from tomato plants to prevent damage.

Fruit Related Problems: Pollination and Ripening

Sometimes, tomato plants may produce flowers but fail to bear fruit. This can be due to inadequate pollination caused by a lack of insects or wind, or insufficient ventilation. To encourage optimal pollination, keep all vents and doors open during the flowering stage to allow for proper airflow. Failure to form fruit may also be a result of insufficient watering. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain a consistent watering schedule.

If your tomatoes are not filling and ripening properly, it may be because the plant hasn’t been stopped from growing soon enough. To redirect its energy towards ripening the existing fruit, stop the plant’s growth around mid-August. By then, your tomato plant should have between 5 to 7 trusses. Simply pinch out the growing tip to achieve this.

Other Tomato Plant Issues: Temperature, Aphids, and Nutritional Deficiencies

Various other issues can affect tomato plants. Green patches around the stalk area, known as greenback, indicate excessive temperatures and insufficient feeding. Leaves curling and developing a blue tinge are often a result of significant temperature fluctuations between day and night, especially in outdoor cultivation. In such cases, consider covering the plants with fleece during colder nights. If the leaves are simply curling, this could be due to aphid damage. For heavy infestations, use a suitable insecticide for edible crops.

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Insufficient nutrients in the soil or failure to remove side shoots on cordon tomatoes can lead to a lack of fruit on the trusses. Address this issue by ensuring adequate nutrient supply and regular pruning.

Simple Anomalies: Lumps and Moulds

Small lumps of root, known as root initials, close to the soil surface are a natural occurrence and pose no cause for concern. As for lumps on the leaves, these are water stores called oedema. Excessive watering and humidity are usually responsible for this condition. While it’s tempting to remove the leaves, they’re essential for photosynthesis. Instead, reduce watering until the soil is slightly damp, and increase ventilation to maintain a healthy balance.

Moulds thrive in warm, damp atmospheres. To prevent their development, ensure sufficient ventilation, avoid overcrowding plants, and remove any dead plant material promptly. Using fungicides is generally ineffective.

Ripening Issues: Rough Skin, Split Fruit, and Dry Tomatoes

Rough skin or russetting on tomatoes is often caused by temperature fluctuations between day and night. Maintaining more stable temperatures can help prevent this issue. Splitting fruit is a sign of inconsistent watering, so it’s important to maintain a regular watering schedule. Hard and dry tomatoes indicate a lack of water, so ensure you water your plants regularly and adequately. In some cases, tasteless but watery tomatoes may be a result of the particular variety, overwatering, or insufficient nutrients in the soil.

Wilting and Yellowing: Causes and Natural Processes

Wilting may indicate Verticillium wilt, in which case you should dispose of the affected plants. However, ensure your plants are well-watered before assuming wilt as the cause. Yellowing of older leaves in late summer is a natural process as the plant reaches maturity. To aid ripening, remove the bottom leaves once the tomatoes start to ripen, allowing sunlight to penetrate the plant and fully develop the fruit.

Further reading:  Beautiful Plants with Pink and Green Leaves

For more gardening tips and advice, visit Ames Farm Center, where you’ll find a wealth of valuable information to help you grow a successful tomato garden.

Ames Farm Center

This article was inspired by the original “Why Are My Tomato Plant Leaves Turning Brown” article from Ames Farm Center.