Common Tomato Seedling Problems & How To Fix Them

Our experienced writers spend hours deep researching, considering both scientific and experimental info to bring the insights you can trust.  

Quick Answer: Common Tomato Seedling Problems & How To Fix Them

Tomato seedlings are easy to plant and it is an exciting experience for newbies. In this guide, I will share with you the common problems with planting tomato seedlings and the solution to these problems.

If you want to know how to avoid these problems, I have the best fix for tomato seedling problems.

However, I will first identify these problems I observed and then discuss the working solutions to help you.

This way when you notice these things, it won’t be a problem for you as you already know what to do. Keep reading to learn how to fix common tomato problems.

Growing Tomato Seedlings

It is not uncommon for people to plant tomatoes in their gardens, and with the clamor for planting trees, most people will pick tomatoes over any other type of tree.

Besides, what’s not to love about this plant? You can always pluck some fresh veggies from your tree compared to what you get at the grocery store.

Tomatoes are easy to grow, and not only is it rewarding, but you also get to save the planet with this tree.

When your tomatoes seed early, it can be a good thing as you get to enjoy the fresh fruit, but when you notice the seedling problem, it can be frustrating.

How do you go about this when you notice a problem with the seedling? First, you need to identify what the problem is, and then you can know what to do.

Next, we will be discussing each of the tomato seedling problems in detail. You will know how to identify them and the easiest way to fix these problems.

Common Tomato Seedling Problems

Tomatoes require sunlight and warmth to grow healthy. It is one of the fruits people look forward to enjoying fresh during the summer. However, this tasty fruit is prone to bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases.

Many things can cause your tomato seedlings to not look right. Even though tomatoes are resilient, these are some of the problems I have been able to identify with tomato seedlings.

1. Leggy Seedlings

The primary cause of tomato seedlings being leggy is if it isn’t receiving enough sunlight. The tomato will go searching for the nearest available source of light.

Naturally, tomatoes will require 6 to 8 hours of natural sunlight every day to grow healthy.

If you are growing your tomato seedlings indoors, you will need to expose the plant to artificial light between 12 to 16 hours every day.

How to Fix Leggy Seedlings

The issue of leggy seedlings can be avoided, but if you notice this is happening to your tomato seedlings, even when you expose them to natural light, you have to consider if their current placement is the right place for the tomatoes.

You can change the position to a sunnier part or possibly a window facing south where the sun can reach the tomatoes. Also, you have to consider the weather as another factor.

If the weather is warm enough above 50°F, you can place the tomato seedlings in a safe area outside where they can receive natural sunlight.

If you opt for artificial light, you can still save the situation by making sure the light is directly facing the seedlings. I would advise you to use fluorescent lights or LED lights because they have low heat emissions and will provide enough light for the seedlings.

The growing lights should not be too close to the plant, but they should preferably be at least 4 inches above the tomato seedlings.

2. Yellowing Seedlings

The reason you will notice seedlings turning yellow is that it lacks nourishment. Your tomato needs moist soil, and without water, it cannot soak the nutrients it needs to grow.

I usually recommend that people get a rich soil mixture for seedlings.

This way, you can be sure that your tomato will be receiving a composite mixture of rotted organic matter, mushroom compost, and worm castings. All of which is enough to keep the seedlings healthy.

How to Fix Yellowing Seedlings

It is easy to solve the yellowing problem. If you notice it is caused by insufficient water, watering will be the perfect solution. You can use natural or organic liquid fertilizer to soak the soil and spray around the leaves.

Ensure that you dilute the liquid fertilizer and if you are making use of natural fertilizer, make sure the composite material is well-rotted, so it does not harm the seedlings.

3. Wilting or Drooping Problem

One of the reasons your tomato seedlings can wilt or droop is because it is not getting sufficient water or possibly because you are over-watering.

When growing tomato seedlings, you should have a watering routine and also good drainage. If the soil has too much water in it, it blocks the air space making it difficult for the tomato’s roots to breathe.

Over-watering will suffocate the plant. You also experience problems when the soil becomes too dry; as I said earlier, the plant needs water to soak up nutrients. When water is absent, you end up killing the plant.

How to Fix Wilting or Drooping Problem

The tomato seedlings luckily can be salvaged when you notice them wilting. The best solution is to water them regularly, allowing moisture into the soil if the problem is dry soil.

You can water but avoid over-watering. When you do this, the tomato seedlings will recover, and everything will be alright.

4. Purpling Seedlings

It is not always unusual to find some purple color on the stems and veins of the plant. When you notice this, it usually means that the seedlings are ripe for transplant.

You will notice this in some tomato species but not all. However, the sign of purpling seedlings may be caused by an underlying issue.

It could mean the seedlings are not getting enough nutrients. The seedlings may turn purple if it is time for transplanting.

In this case, moving the seedlings out of their position will give them access to more nutrients, and the roots can have a field day soaking them in.

How to Fix Purpling Seedlings

If it is a case of insufficient nutrients, a good fertilizer might be just what your plant needs. It could be a good time to introduce the plant to phosphorus.

However, the purpling is not always much of a concern, and if you follow normal growing habits, everything will be fine.

5. Browning Seedlings

The reason you will notice some brown spots on the leaves of your tomato seedlings is possible because it is overwatered or completely dried out. This is the reason why the leaves will die, as you will notice from the brown leaves.

The dying process will usually start somewhere around the leaf margins and not necessarily from the plant’s stem or even the surface of the leaf.

Another possible cause for browning could be some soil disease which can be traced to either bacteria or fungal infections. In this case, the damage will be noticed from the stem and surface of the leaves.

How to Fix Browning Seedlings

The seedlings need proper air circulation, and without that, they will not survive.

Like I mentioned earlier, having a proper watering routine will save your plant. It will ensure proper air circulation and also absorption of nutrients.

However, the issue of infection most times can be prevented especially if you started growing your seedlings in a sterile container.

Depending on how severe the damage to the plant is, it will determine if you can salvage the situation.

The first thing to look out for is if the entire stem has turned brown and, in this case, if it looks like it can’t be saved.

If the entire stem is brown, it is impossible to bring the tomato back to life.

If you notice, however, that there is just some browning around the leaf edges, you can simply remove those leaves and then start a good watering schedule.

Also, to save the plant from infection, you can try repotting in a new and sterile potting soil with good drainage.

6. Slow Growth

The common cause for tomato seedlings not growing at a fast pace is that the soil is not warm enough for the plant.

This will hinder the growth of the seedlings because they need light soil with the best conditions.

The expected germination temperature needed for tomatoes is between 70°F to 80°F. This temperature can cool down to about 65°F after the seedlings have sprouted.

How to Fix Slow Growth of Tomato Seedlings

You can fix the soil problem by providing enough warmth in it, and you can start warming the soil by getting a warm mist spray.

You shouldn’t fear it will cook the tomato plant, but this process will make the soil warm enough to support healthy growth.

I would suggest that you put the seedlings tray in a warm location, preferably with heating mats placed under the seed trays. This works all the time and will ensure that the soil maintains warm soil temperatures.

7. White Leaves Problem

If you notice white leaves are growing on your tomato seedlings, it is a result of sunscald.

This is a bacterial or fungal disease that causes the tomato leaves to turn white. You will notice the leaves either completely white or showing white spots.

This problem can be prevented if you introduce the seedlings slowly to sunlight, especially during the hardening off process. You can place the young seedlings under the dappled sun in only a few hours.

You need to be careful that the sunlight does not reflect on the seedlings because it can be very harsh at certain times of the day.

The water circulation should be adequate and ensure that your pot drainage is effective. Problems like this won’t occur when you grow tomatoes in a sterile container and good sterile soil.

How to Fix White Leaves Problem

When you notice the white spot on the leaves or white leaves, you can quickly save the seedlings by spraying the leaves with a fine mist spray of water.

This will cool the leaves and protect them from the harsh sunlight. You can then start the process of introducing the plants to sunlight slowly so they can grow the right way.

You can invest in plant sunscreens which will block out the intense sun rays for the young tomato seedlings. Also, remove the part of the leaves that are white or damaged from the plant.

You can use this opportunity to re-pot the seedlings in a sterile container and a pot with good drainage for air circulation.

8. Seedlings Wilted or Dead

When growing tomatoes, one of the problems that may occur is a seedling disease. This disease also referred to as a damping-off, can appear immediately after the seedlings sprout.

The disease can even prevent the seedlings from sprouting, which is caused by a fungal infection. The likelihood of this happening will be in the case of over-watering, exposure to cold, and if the soil is too rich.

How to Fix Wilted of Dead Seedlings

Luckily, this is one problem that can be avoided altogether if you started growing your seedlings indoors in a sterile pot and under good soil conditions.

Like I mentioned earlier, the temperature condition for new seedlings should be around 70°F to 80°F.

The soil should not have any nitrogen fertilizer included, and you should also ensure that the soil is dry before you water it.

To fix the damping-off problems is next to impossible. Your plant can’t survive this disease because the stems are injured and will cause the plant to be weak.

It is also very possible that if the plant keeps growing, it will still have traces of fungus in it.

The best solution will be to start the growing process again with fresh seeds. You should ensure that you grow the seedlings under the right conditions and in a sterile container.


Why are my tomatoes not growing?

Tomatoes will not grow properly if the soil is not warm enough. You can solve this problem by warming the soil and allowing the seedlings to grow in the right soil temperature, around 70°F to 80°F.

What can I do to prevent bacterial or fungal infections in the seedlings?

The best way to avoid any bacterial or fungal infections on the tomato seedlings is by growing the plant in sterile containers. Ensure you get a sterile container and one with good drainage.

Why are my tomato leaves browning?

The major cause for browning could be over-watering or completely dry soil. Ensure you adopt a good watering routine, and your seedlings will be fine.


Tomatoes are resilient and most of the problems you will notice in the seedlings can be fixed. The plant will experience problems when you over-water, and also when the soil lacks the necessary nutrients it needs to survive.

The solution will be to stop the habit of over-watering your plant. Only do so when the soil is dry and this way your tomato seedlings can absorb the nutrients.

Grow your tomato under the right temperature conditions and ensure you use safe pesticides to get rid of pests, fungi and bacteria.