Asked on Jul 07, 2013

Why Are My Tomato Plants Dying?

Dee W
by Dee W
When I came back from vacation on the first, I noticed some yellowing leaves on the bottoms of my tomato plants. It has gotten progressively worse with whole branches turning yellow, then brown and falling off.
The plants were bought and were planted in raised beds before Memorial Day. In contrast my cherry tomato and roma tomato plants are healthy and doing great. Do I need to worry that this is contagious? Thank-you for any help or ideas.
  27 answers
  • Sheila E Sheila E on Jul 07, 2013
    Too much water could be the cause. How often do you water, how do you water and/or did you get a couple of weeks of rain like we did on the east coast? One thing you can try is spraying them with a mix of two tablespoons of epsom salts in 1 gallon of water. Use a pressure sprayers to saturate the leaves early in the morning. You can poor the rest into the soil the next time you water them.
  • Dee W Dee W on Jul 07, 2013
    It did rain heavily while we were away but not much since then which is why I thought they would recover. I haven't watered them since coming back home because of the intermittent rainfall.
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Jul 07, 2013
    It looks like it might be early blight. But it is hard to see the pattern on the leaves. Take a look at this link.
  • Dee W Dee W on Jul 07, 2013
    @360 Sod (Donna Dixson) thank-you for the link. this was my first thought since we dealt with it last year-but these are new boxes with fresh dirt and I hoped we wouldn't see another case of it. I will get a better look at the plants in the morning, If it is, should I just tear them out--and do you know if I need to worry about my other plants that for now seem healthy and happy?
  • Therese C Therese C on Jul 08, 2013
    Looks like maybe over watering? Also try watering them with 1 cup Epsom salt in gallon water. It should turn them right around. Then let the soil get dry before re-watering each time.
  • Dee W Dee W on Jul 08, 2013
    @360 Sod (Donna Dixson) The leaves do make it look like blight-should I just count them as a loss and tear them out? @Therese C I checked my soil--is dry a bit more than an inch down-- and it seems if anything that they need watering.
  • Therese C Therese C on Jul 08, 2013
    Yellowing leaves usually indicate over watering. In this case if the soil is dry and it is blight try bringing them back with Epsom salt water. It is a shame to count them as a loss, so I would try saving them first.
  • Sherry Funk Sherry Funk on Jul 08, 2013
    My DIL told me it might be a calcium, to use a fertilizer with 10/10/10 with calcium. if it is turning yellow from the bottom up. She has a beautiful garden. Defiantly a green thumb.
  • Dee W Dee W on Jul 08, 2013
    Thank-you @Therese C & @Sherry Funk for your input and kind comment. Hopefully I can save them, especially since they are bearing fruit (produce?)
  • Sheila E Sheila E on Jul 08, 2013
    It seems to me that if it were calcium there would be blossom end rot apparent too. I'd try the epsom salt first. I've not seen a recommendation of 1 cup to a gallon though. I think it can change the ph of your soil, so be careful.
  • Mike Lee Mike Lee on Jul 08, 2013
    Sherry you took the words right out , calcium happen to mine also.little bit of fertilizer and water fix them right up.. I grew mine from seeds/ cheap\ and they are blooming so I would expect tomatoes soon. Also heard through a good source, thump the plants when blooming, makes them produce more.. I know sounds stupid, but I did it last year and it works.
  • Mike Lee Mike Lee on Jul 08, 2013
    Also you can get allot of information from this guy:::
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jul 09, 2013
    Shelia E, Epsom's salts does not change pH. But it should be 1 tablespoon to a gallon of water. ES contain magnesium, a trace mineral that is sometimes missing or not available for the plants to use. You can use crushed egg shells, around the outside of your plants, just bury them slightly, for additional calcium. If you use those and ES in combination that should help solve the problem. The microorganisms in the soil need both of them to help the plant's root system use the available nutrients. Because these are both organic, natural sources, it's perfectly alright to drench both your plant and soil with ES water. And you can use additional applications of ES if your tomatoes and/or peppers are not setting fruit.
    • Pam Davis Pam Davis on Jul 08, 2017

      Does it matter if the ES is a mint flavor? I have a lot of that on hand. TY

  • Caley's Culinaries Caley's Culinaries on Jul 09, 2013
    This doesn't look like Mg deficiency. Mg deficiency would yellow between the veins first. You don't have any yellow leaves with green veins. This looks like plain old nitrogen deficiency, possibly caused by the rain rinsing it away. N is the first number on your fertilizer analysis. Even if it is blight, you still got some tomatoes!
  • Phil Burdine Phil Burdine on Jul 09, 2013
    I am going with Caley on this one. I have the same issue but raise my tomatoes in containers. Too much water is not the issue in my case, because the water drains out the bottom of the containers. I believe the water also takes some nutrients with it so have increased the frequency I fertilize them, but the jury is still out.
  • UrbanFig UrbanFig on Jul 09, 2013
    In general, the tomato plant looks relatively healthy. Remove the yellow and unhealthy looking leaves and see what happens. Tomato platns do have yellow leaves as they fruit ripens.
  • Judy Judy on Jul 09, 2013
    Dee, tomatoes, especially in raised beds or containers need an inch of water a week. Rainfall seldom provides enough. The fact that your soil is dry after an inch or so down indicates that they need to be watered. Plants that are dying from lack of water will yellow. Give them a good, slow trickle watering to moisten the soil clear to the bottom of the container.
  • Dr2361 Dr2361 on Jul 09, 2013
    I had this with several of my plants including my tomato plants. Yes the yellowing and brown leaves were lower on the branches. I found trails of little ants to several of the plants and they were eating some of the roots off. They were gnawing them off at the 'nubs' of the root. I live in California. I am convinced that all of California rests on one big giant anthill.
  • April E April E on Jul 09, 2013
    I don't see a issue all plant shed leave and it is the oldest leaves they shed you are still producing fruit and the rest of the plant looks ok do not be inconsistent in your watering (this stresses a plant) feed them as needed pull off the dead leaves to keep em healthy and enjoy the fruits of your labor
  • Dee W Dee W on Jul 09, 2013
    It has been raining all day today so I did not make it out to look at the spots on the leaves or for ants. Obviously, I did not try the Epsom salt water either. :(
  • Wanita Craven Huizenga Wanita Craven Huizenga on Jul 10, 2013
    We had this issue a few years ago and dug up a tomato plant and took it to a garden center. It was a fungus which leads to early blight. It happens when conditions are very humid and there is lots of rain. Also, they say not to water overhead; instead we push the dirt around the plant as to make a "bowl" and water directly in the dirt. They suggested that we spray with a fungicide (Daconil) every 7 - 10 days when conditions are right. It's a concentrate that you mix 2 TBsp. per gallon of water. We have not had a problem with blight ever since and our tomatoes are beautiful. When area gardners have lost their entire crop to blight, we have had no problems.
  • Therese C Therese C on Jul 10, 2013
    Dee I do know that it is a good idea to put a bit of Epsom Salts in the holes when you first plant any plant. We had a rain issue early this year when plants were just put out and starting to take hold, I gently draped plastic over my potted & ground plants so they would receive much less rain water. This way I controlled the plants water amount and had no fear of root rot or blight. Tomatoes are very aggravating to grow when you get blight or bugs, but if you are diligent you will do just attention to the plants and they will 'tell' you anything and everything that is wrong with them..all the signs are there good or bad.
  • Dee W Dee W on Jul 10, 2013
    @Therese C thank you for the advice and encouragement--I like the tarp idea, never would have thought of that one, but it seems a "no brainer" now that I heard it lol
  • Therese C Therese C on Jul 10, 2013
    My pleasure Dee, sometimes it is the easiest solutions that are the hardest to see.
  • Peg Peg on Apr 30, 2014
    I agree with CATHERINE.... egg shells & coffee grinds :)
  • Elizabeth Sagarminaga Elizabeth Sagarminaga on May 03, 2014
    It may be possible that the plantshave got infected with some foreign agent. Secondly, it may also be possiblethat you are not watering the plants in the right manner, watering during noonwhen the sun rays are quite strong or pouring warm water in the roots of theplants also leads to yellowing of the leaves.
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jul 08, 2017

    Nope, flavor doesn't make a difference.