Tomatoes - Dry leaves

by Yaron
Any idea why the leaves of the tomatoes are getting yellow and dry?
It only happens in the regular tomatoes, not the Cherry ones that are few feet away.
  20 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 14, 2013
    It's possible your tomatoes have Verticillium or another type of wilt. Are they by any chance an heirloom variety? While otherwise wonderful, those do not have the resistance to wilts that some more modern tomatoes do. The best defense is to plant resistant cultivars: And, by the way, Cornell has an excellent diagnostic key to tomato problems here:
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Jul 14, 2013
    This happened to mine last year, I was picking the suckers off and the leaves were turning like this. It was because I over did it. And if they are heirloom if they have the wilt every time you touch it you spread it to another plant. I learned this the hard way also.
  • Yaron Yaron on Jul 15, 2013
    @Douglas Hunt I don't know which kind they are. Anything I can do to heal them?
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 15, 2013
    Yaron, as far as I know there is nothing you can do once wilt appears. There are cultural practices to ensure it doesn't happen again next year. Here's a very thorough discussion of the issue:
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jul 15, 2013
    Agree with Douglas and Sherrie. Looks like wilt, not much you can do with them. However, do not plant tomatoes in this area again for at least 2 years. You may need to go to the hybrid varieties that are more disease resistant, that however, it not a guarantee. I've found both my German Johnson and Purple Cherokee heirloom to be moderately resistant to some of these problems, but I'm using seed i've saved from previous plantings, so they're more adapted to my soil. I rarely plant hybrids anymore, other than Burpee's Late Blooming hybrid. Those keep producing here in VA into early fall and have a good flavor. I usually strip all the vines of green tomatoes when we have a forecast for the first heavy frost. Layer them between sheets of black and white newspaper and store them in a cool area. That way we normally have fresh tomatoes thru Feb at least. You do have to check them often, but they give off a "gas" that allows them to ripen naturally in the box. It's pretty cool to watch. ^-^ and to eat. LOL
  • Yaron Yaron on Jul 15, 2013
    @Douglas Hunt @Sherrie @Catherine Smith thanks for the tips and info.
  • Lucille T Lucille T on Jul 15, 2013
    I have another problem. Black spots are appearing at the base of our tomato plants. Are about the size of a nickel or more. Plants look very healthy, tomatoes are doing great. They are planted in the large self watering planters, the ones with the pipe for water. No pic available yet. Can anyone help??? Thanks.
  • Claudia Pleskach Claudia Pleskach on Jul 15, 2013
    My yard at my current home has horrible soil and if there is a fungus out there, my plants get it. My garden is raised mainly in soil bags (putting a cut in the bottom to allow moisture to drain), and putting the plants seeds etc in the slits on top. As long as I change out the bags every other year, my plants seems to avoid most diseases. The extension service here recommended I put 4 inches of new soil on top, so I guess I'm doing it that slowly!!!
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 16, 2013
    @Lucille T you should post your question as a new question using the red "post & ask" button at the top of the page. That way more people will see the question and you'll get more answers.
  • Stacie Stacie on Jul 16, 2013
    My guess is not enough water, or there's a bug. My sisters garden is doing the same thing, so it could be the weather also. (Too Hot) Here's a tip for every one: When to tell if a tree or plant needs water, my dad said that if you look at a plant/tree and it looks like the leaves turn inside out ( the back side of the leaf is shown) then it's natures way of saying I need water. He's retired now, but he was a farmer since I was born.
  • Judy Judy on Jul 16, 2013
    My first thought also was that they need water. Sometimes the simple solutions are the best. Mulch them heavily & make sure they're getting an inch of water every week.
  • Jane Jane on Jul 16, 2013
    This exact same thing happened to my tomatoes! All "cherry or Roma". I am experienced gardener. I have never had this happen to my tomato plants before. The leaves started out becoming a rust color, then started to curl and dry out. I did harvest many tomatoes from them. They taste the same as if I bought them in the grocery store. I used soap and water spray to try to rid whatever was happening but it did not stop this "disease". It is heartbreaking to see this happen and not be able to control it.
  • Ouina Ouina on Jul 16, 2013
    Spider mites? If it has been hot and dry, spider mites love those conditions. Turn a leaf over and look for tiny white dots and spider webs. If you do have them, spray the soap/water mix recommended above on the underside of all the leaves. Rain tends to wash them away thus the hot, dry clime makes for growing spider mites. Good luck!
  • Kathy S Kathy S on Jul 17, 2013
    Take a sprig of it to your local County Agriculture Extention office. They will have all the information. Believe it or not, I tend to think it is a combination wilt and too much water.
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jul 17, 2013
    Good idea, Kathy S. There is a new virus/fungus combo out there that has been affecting tomatoes, but appeared to be mainly in the northeast. I'll see if I can find the MG warning literature on it.
  • Yair Spolter Yair Spolter on Jul 18, 2013
    Thanks so much for this post. I've been having the same issue and I kept switching my watering schedule. Now I see that it may be a completely different issue.
  • Linda @ Mixed Kreations Linda @ Mixed Kreations on Jul 18, 2013
    I've had this problem the last two years. And this year I was hoping to learn to can tomatoes )-; It's not affecting my cherry tomatoes just the larger varieties. First I thought I was over watering so I cut back. That didn't help they continue to go down hill. when I get home I am going to look at the undersides of the leaves. Thanks.
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jul 18, 2013
    Linda, if you really want to learn how to can tomatoes,I suggest you try your local farmer's market. Half a bushel should give you a nice start without being overwhelming. You can email me if you feel the need for advice or some experienced coaching on various canning techniques. I teach a class on canning for beginners for the Master Cook program. Always delighted to help a newbie learn safe skills.
  • Linda @ Mixed Kreations Linda @ Mixed Kreations on Jul 19, 2013
    Catherine, Thanks I might do that. I was thinking of going to the farmers market and buying some cucumbers so I can make some spicy pickles. I bought a new pressure cooker and a new book on canning.
  • Brendan Poynter Brendan Poynter on Jul 19, 2013
    Looks like it could be 2 things. 1.) Not getting enough water. 2.) pH balance in the soil is to low or too high. Tomato plants love a soil with an average to high acid and nitrogen content. If you have a pH gauge (looks like a metal rod with a small meter on the top with a number range from 1 to 9.) prod the soil. If it registers 1-4, your soil is too alkaline base, if it is 7 or higher, your soil is too acidy. You want to shoot for the 5 - 6 range. if the acid level is low, you may want to try to add nutrients to the soil. Such as an Epsom salt water solution 1 tsp per gallon of water, or some compost with coffee grounds. This will add nitrogen to the soil and give the plant a little boost in fruit and leaf production. Trim a way some of the leafs that are closer to the bottom of the plant also. This helps with production. Good Luck!