Detailed Guide To Identify, Control & Prevent Tomato Mosaic Virus?

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This comprehensive guide provides valuable and practical tips to help you identify, control, and prevent tomato mosaic virus on tomato plants.

What Is Tomato Mosaic Virus And How Does It Harms Tomato Plants?

Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV) is one of the oldest plant pathogenic viruses that is contagious. It is seed-borne and overwinters in seed coats, plant debris, and soil.

It may affect the tomato at any stage of growth.

All parts of the plant, including stems, leaves, and fruit will be affected.

How To Confirm That Tomato Mosaic Virus Is Troubling Your Tomato Plants?

Inspect the leaves of tomato plants. A typical characteristic of ToMV is a pale green or yellowish leaf mottling effect on mature leaves. The leaflets may be fern-like in appearance, wrinkled, and reduced in size.

You may notice reductions in fruit size and internal brown lesions in the fruit.

Overall, growth will be stunted. It is recommended to get a firm diagnosis from a lab.

Natural Ways To Control Tomato Mosaic Virus On Tomato Plants

ToMV is highly contagious and is difficult to save the plant after severe viral infections. As it is spread by several insects, you may try sprinkling diatomaceous earth and neem oil to deter these insects around tomato plants.

Method 1- Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth Powder

Diatomaceous earth is a natural, mined product that contains the fossilized remains of diatoms. It is a fine powder that is harmless to larger animals.

It kills the pests, including aphids, whiteflies, and mites,  by dehydrating them.

  • Sprinkle DE powder– Wear gloves and a mask while handling DE powder. Sprinkle food-grade DE powder around the base of the plant. You may also dust them on the leaves.
  • Repeat application– Repeat the application as required or after rain. It helps in deterring pests that carry ToMV infection.

Check out this useful video on using DE powder:

Method 2- Spray Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural measure that has been used to control many pests and diseases. It interferes with feeding, molting, mating, and egg-laying. It can be sprayed on tomato plants to deter the pests that carry ToMV.

  • Prepare the neem oil– Add one teaspoon of dish detergent to a gallon of warm water. Mix thoroughly and add a tablespoon of neem oil. Shake well.
  • Spray the solution– Spray the plant surfaces until completely wet. Avoid applying in the bright sun as it may burn the foliage.

Check out this video on using neem oil to control insects:

Physical Ways To Control Tomato Mosaic Virus On Tomato Plants

The most effective way of controlling the spread of ToMV is pruning and removal of infected parts of the plants. It helps in preventing the spread of the virus to the rest of the garden.

1. Prune The Affected Parts

Remove the parts of the plant that you suspect may be infected with a virus. Destroy or burn them to prevent the spread of the virus.

  • Prune the affected parts– Remove the infected parts using sanitized tools. Destroy the affected parts and do not throw them in the compost pile.
  • Disinfect the gardening tools-Disinfect the gardening tools after every use in 1:9 dilution of germicidal bleach or an antiviral disinfectant. Also, wash your hands with soap and hot water.
  • Monitor the rest of the plants– Monitor the other parts of the plant for infection.


Chemical Ways To Control Tomato Mosaic Virus On Tomato Plants

Currently, there are no chemical measures available to treat or manage TomV. Most chemicals used to reduce pest transmission are not feasible for home gardens. You may practice good sanitation practices to prevent the spread of infection to the rest of the garden.

How To Prevent Tomato Mosaic Virus In Tomato Plants?

Prevention is key to the control of the tomato mosaic virus. You may clear the infected debris, start the season with un-infected transplants or disease-resistant varieties, and practice crop rotation. Wash the hands and disinfect tools between working on the plant.

1. Practice Sanitation

Remove the infected plant debris and seedlings that appear stunted or distorted. Sanitize the tools by boiling them for five minutes and washing them with a strong detergent. Take care to remove weeds around the tomatoes.

2. Follow Crop Rotation

Practice crop rotation to prevent the ToMV infection. Do not plant tomatoes that are susceptible to ToMV in the same area again as these viruses may be overwintering in the soil.

3. Use Row Covers

As insects spread tomato mosaic viruses, you may cover the tomato plants with a floating row cover to prevent the insects from attacking your plants.

4. row Resistant Varieties

There are some resistant tomato varieties for ToMV and you may grow them, especially if your area has susceptibility to ToMV. You may check for resistance in a seed catalog.

Also, use the certified disease-free seeds or treat your seeds to get un-infected transplants.

What Causes Tomato Mosaic Virus Attacks In Tomato Plants?

The transmission of ToMV to healthy tomato plants is through contact and seeds. Also, it is spread via different insects, including aphids, leafhoppers, whiteflies, and cucumber beetles.

Leftover plant debris and weeds are important causes of disease spread.

Also, mechanical injury and divisions from infected plants may cause the virus attacks in tomato plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the host plants of the tomato mosaic virus?

The main susceptible crop that ToMV affects is the tomato. Also, it affects a wide range of other crops, including snapdragon, delphinium, marigold, pepper, and petunia. It may spread the infection to the plants grown in seedbeds.

How do you treat your seeds to prevent the tomato mosaic virus?

You may soak the seeds using a 10% solution of trisodium phosphate for 15 minutes. Or, you may heat dry them at 158oF for two to four days. Some gardeners suggest hot water treatment for seeds but it may not be sufficient for a few tomato viruses.

Tomato mosaic virus Vs. Tobacco mosaic virus?

Both ToMV and TMV are closely related and are difficult to distinguish from each other. They form a similar mottling effect on the leaves. But, they differ in their hosts of choice. ToMV affects tomatoes, apples, pears, and cherries whereas TMV infects lettuce, cucumbers, beets, and tobacco.


I hope this guide has helped you understand the necessity for the early detection and given you valuable tips to prevent and control of the tomato mosaic virus.

Please share your suggestions for handling this virus using organic and chemical measures.

Do pass on the guide to other gardening friends if you find it helpful!