In Brief: Tomato Plant Wilting (Drooping) Causes
The different causes of wilting tomato plants are improper watering, tomato wilt diseases, and insect pests. Also, planting tomato plants near allelopathic plants may cause wilting in tomato plants. The wilted plants may be revived by correcting watering issues and transplanting problems. However, it is recommended to remove the diseased tomato plants to prevent the spread of infection.
I will introduce you to several possible reasons for wilting tomato plants and the best ways to fix them in this article.
I have poured in my experience in dealing with tomato wilting caused by pathogens and other environmental factors.
Let us dive into the article.
This subsection discusses different reasons for wilting tomato plants.
- In Brief: Tomato Plant Wilting (Drooping) Causes
- 1. Inconsistencies in watering
- 2. Transplanting Problems
- 3. Environmental Causes
- 4. Tomato Wilt Diseases
- 5. Attack from Pathogens and Stalk Borers
- 6. Bad Neighboring Plants
- How to Revive a Wilted Tomato Plant?
- How to prevent tomatoes from wilting in the future?
1. Inconsistencies in watering
When a tomato plant is underwatered or overwatered, it may develop yellow leaves and start to wilt. The signs of watering problems may be easily identified by observing the soil.
Check out this video for more information on the water wilt:
Lack of water
I observed that the leaves of the tomato plants turn yellow and wilt when there is a lack of water. They may lose water in a faster rater than they could replenish on a sunny day.
Also, the leaves tend to look thinner than usual which is a sign of underwatering. A thorough watering will revive these plants immediately.
Like underwatering, tomato wilting may also occur due to overwatering. When there is excess water, the roots may not be able to absorb the water from the soil due to drowning.
If the situation persists, the plant may die.
2. Transplanting Problems
Another cause for the wilting tomato plants is transplant shock.
When you transfer tomato plants from the protected environment to the garden, they may face stress. It may be due to differences in temperature, movement, and brightness.
It may cause secondary root damage that may lead to tomato wilting due to inadequate water capture.
Tomato plants need some time to adjust after transplanting. I try to make the transition gradual and in a progressive manner to avoid wilting.
3. Environmental Causes
The tomato plants can not tolerate frost or cold temperatures. It may show signs of wilting. The leaves may turn black and wilt, which may fall off later.
The fruit that develops may have a different shape with brown scarring and holes in the flesh. It may still be edible.
If the damage is not extensive, they may sometimes revive when warm temperatures appear.
But, it is difficult to recover from severe frost damage to the stem of the tomato plants.
4. Tomato Wilt Diseases
I have sometimes experienced tomato wilting due to attacks from pathogens. They are susceptible to bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
You may watch this video on tomato wilt diseases for more information:
Tomato spotted wilted virus
Tomato spotted wilt is a viral infection attacking the tomato plants and other varieties of plants. It may be transmitted from infected plants to healthy plants through thrips.
The symptoms include stunted plant growth, ring spots on leaves, and brown streaking on stems. The plants may stop growing, and there is no cure for this problem.
If the infected pant is left in the garden, it may spread the infection to other healthy plants. It is better to remove the infected plant and keep the thrips away.
Fusarium wilt fungus
A common fungal culprit that affects tomato plants is Fusarium wilt. It may cause drooping, yellowing, and wilting of the leaves. These symptoms mostly occur on the lower leaves.
It may gradually affect the vascular system and impair the nutrient uptake by the plants. As a result, the growth of tomato plants is stunted.
One of my tomato plants was attacked by Fusarium wilt. I couldn’t save the plant by the time I had noticed the infection.
I had to remove the plant to prevent the spread of infection.
Verticillium wilt fungus
Another fungus that affects tomato plants is verticillium wilt fungus. It may be introduced through contaminated transplants, wind, water, or infested soil.
It has similar symptoms to Fusarium wilt, but they appear slowly with less yellowing of leaves.
The tomato plants may wilt in the morning and recover at night. They may have stunted growth and finally die.
I haven’t come across this problem but I am adding information based on the experience of other gardeners. Southern blight is a disease caused by a soil-borne fungus, Sclerotium rolfsii.
It causes discolored lower leaves, wilting of tomato plants, and usually results in the death of the plant. The brown, dry rot develops on the stems.
Tomato Bacterial Wilt
Bacterial wilt causes faster wilting of tomato plants. It may be a lesser cause of tomato wilting compared to other pathogens.
The bacteria remain in the soil for a longer time and enter through wounds in the plants.
However, it doesn’t cause yellowing like fungal wilt diseases.
But, it affects the vascular system just like fungal wilt. When I checked the infected stem, it looked brown with tiny drops of yellowish ooze.
5. Attack from Pathogens and Stalk Borers
The stalk borer is a purple-colored and striped caterpillar. They occasionally attack the tomato plants in the vegetable garden.
They dig a hole in the stem of tomato plants, start feeding them and may affect nutrient uptake.
Another problem that I have experienced with my tomatoes is an attack from other tomato pests.
These include root-knot nematodes and aphids, which cause tomato wilting.
6. Bad Neighboring Plants
Some allelopathic plants may be harmful to tomato plants if planted near. It includes black walnut trees, butternut trees, sunflowers, and the tree of heaven that may cause wilting tomato plants.
The black walnut plants produce toxic substances (juglone) that creep into the soil. It may be taken by the neighboring tomato plants, and eventually, kill it.
Also, it remains in the soil for a long time, even after removing these trees.
How to Revive a Wilted Tomato Plant?
Tomato plants require adequate sunlight, water, and nutrient-rich soil for proper growth.
Water the tomato plants if the soil is dry and they are withering due to lack of water.
When the issue is overwatering, I keep newspaper to draw away the excess moisture. I give some time to dry out the soil before watering again. It may revive again unless there is root rot.
I apply fungicide to the tomato plants if the wilting is accompanied by spotting. If the plant affected by pathogens cannot be revived, I remove them from the garden.
If you observe any stalk borers, you may remove them and give the wilted tomato plants extra care. It may revive after some time.
There is no cure for juglone-damaged plants, and you may remove the destroyed plants.
You may click this link for more information on how to revive a wilted tomato plant:
How to prevent tomatoes from wilting in the future?
You can do the following to avoid wilting of tomato plants in the future –
Preparing the land
Make sure the land is well-drained, and the irrigation water is free from infestations. Avoid the land with excess moisture. Also, I like to manage weeds before transplanting.
Avoid Watering inconsistencies
Examine the soil, and make sure not to over or unwater the plants. It is important to maintain watering tomato plants at least 1-2 inches per week to avoid wilting.
Beware of Pathogen attack
The pathogens survive in infected plant parts, farm tools, and equipment.
So, I would recommend that you sanitize the harvesting tools and equipment before use. You may follow rotation for reducing the fungal wilts in the garden.
Also, you may uproot the pathogen-infected plants to prevent the spread of infection. I prefer to use disease-resistant varieties of tomato plants.
I ‘harden off’ the tomato transplants before transferring them to the garden. Also, take care not to damage the roots while uprooting.
Allelopathic plants management
It is recommended to leave a space of 75 feet between allelopathic and tomato plants.
Alternatively, you may plant tomato plants in containers so that they don’t share the soil with these plants.
It depends on the extent to which the plant is affected. If the plant is infected and the fruits do not have any signs of infection, then you may consume the fruits. However, it has to be washed thoroughly. If the fruit is contaminated with spores, then I wouldn’t recommend eating it.
The tomato plants may recover within a day or two if the wilting is due to watering problems. But, if it is caused by pathogens, it may take time to recover. Sometimes, it cannot be cured, and you may have to uproot the whole plant.
I hope this article has provided you with insights about different causes of the wilting tomato plant, and different ways to fix them.
Please write back to us your valuable feedback and suggestions. Also, let us know if you have come across any other tomato wilt problems and your experience in dealing with them.
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