What’s wrong with this tomato plant?


I have my best guess on this one, but can’t seem to find any pictures online that match this tomato problem.  So to confirm what do you think the problem could be?

24 Responses to “What’s wrong with this tomato plant?”

  1. m. Delury Says:

    my best guess is that they may have been put in direct sun without properly hardening them off first. I looked through my favorite gardening book, the organic gardener’s handbook of natural insect and disease control and I couldn’t find anything else that really fit. I have had this happen though to plants I left in the sun too long while I was trying to harden them off. Leaves turn white and get very thin before they just dry up.

  2. kristy Says:

    m. Delury beat me. I also think that it looks a lot like a seedling that hadn’t been fully hardened off before being exposed to full sun and wind. If it had been outside and in the wind for a long time before starting to look like this, then we’re wrong.

  3. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Thanks, I think the two of you right, normally do not have any problems with leaf burn because we do not get sun around here until July πŸ™‚ We did get a couple days of sunshine last week so that is probably the root cause. I have occasionally seen sun scald on fruit later in the season and still pretty rare to get that much sun here in the Pacific Northwest.

  4. PlantedLA Says:

    I’m a little worried it might be verticullum wilt. Did you grow any nightshades in the same place last year? If you had problems with any tomato or potato plants in the same area, and haven’t done crop rotation, the disease could still be lurking in the soil and will affect any other plants in the same genus for at least the next season or two.

  5. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    PlantedLA, that was my original guess as well but checking photos online for over 30 minutes without finding anything similiar to what mine looked like. I only have one place to grow tomatoes in my yard so I alternate locations every year. the neighbor to the plant appears to be doing better but definately want to make sure the soil is healthy before bringing in the first string tomato plants I have finishing off in the grow box.

  6. Rob Says:

    LOL It has a death wish! I agree with the other two.

  7. Joyce Says:


    I m a brand new gardener, or trying to be anyway! πŸ˜› I suspect my young tomatoe plants may also have suffered from over exposure before being hardened. They are only getting a little bit dry at the edge of the leaves, and i have now built a cold frame to help harden them off. Should I give them any special care? Are they doomed?

  8. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Joyce, my plan is to remove any sick looking leaves and see how the plant pans out…though guessing I probably will be replacing this one with one of my stronger plants now being properly hardened off a half day at a time right now πŸ™‚

  9. SixBalloons Says:

    I think the last few days of heat were a little too shocking for some of my plants too. My mescluns and mustards started bolting!

  10. Delora Says:

    I was also thinking it was leaf scorch. I’ve definitely experienced that a time or two over the years – it’s hard to properly harden off plants while at work all week.

  11. Deana Says:

    I have one that looks just like that…have been scratching my head trying to figure out what’s wrong. All of mine were placed in the garden at the same time, and hardened off the same lenghth of time. Only one plant looks like this so I don’t think mine was caused by sun/wind.

  12. David S Says:

    I believe it is leaf burn. Had the same problem with them in the grow box when they got too tall and intwined their leaves in the lights causing them to get cooked. Now they are going through their 2 weeks in the unheated greenhouse before I plant them outside. Needed the room in the grow box for the peppers getting transplanted. πŸ™‚

  13. Tricia Says:

    My tomato plant looks just the same. I figured it was because I planted it in the ground a little too early. I planted tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers late april not realizing that I should wait until late May. It got a bit cold and we had record rainfall, my cucumbers died and my tomatoes look like that. My peppers are okay. I have brand new dirt in my boxes this year, so no likelihood of disease from last year.

  14. Yolanda Says:

    I think it’s verticilium or fusarium wilt. It’s in the soil. Nothing you can do. Rotate crops next year, and plant resistant tomatoes, which unfortunately usually means no open pollinated(heirloom) varieties.

  15. jordan Says:

    I had a problem similar to this myself. Something to do with too much of a certain mineral that blocks the plant from absorbing what it needs… memory fails me, google is your friend πŸ™‚

  16. scott Says:

    I had this question answered so i thought i would put the link here


  17. Sarah Says:

    I think it might be mosaic disease…. which is a virus sometimes carried by tobacco. I have had some luck with spraying the leaves with diluted milk after picking off the damaged leaves.
    Good luck.

  18. Wooden Greenhouse Guy Says:

    Id go with a sunlight problem, causing the wilt. I doubt (if im right) that they were properly hardened off before being placed out in the sun. I do however think this is recoverable. Snip the worst affected leaves off, only water in the morning and from the bottom, and find a place for them to live that received both sunlight and shade during the day.

  19. Top LED Grow Lights Says:

    You maybe could try putting them back in your grow box to see if it goes away.

  20. BrunoW Says:

    Got exactly the same on two plants and a plant of basil. They were kept for a month inside and placed outside. It was warm but windy and I guess they were burn by cold.
    A part of the plant was ruined but it continues to grow, got flowers and some fruits already. So it was eventually still beneficial to place them outside so early.
    Next year I will use an intermediate stage, protected but not heated to harden them before placing them outside.
    I did the same search and read books but no mentions.

  21. Forsythkid Says:

    Did you mention what variety this tomato is?

  22. big rich gardens Says:

    Ok, I think I’ll take a stab at this too. I HOPE you don’t have a mosaic virus, but I’m a kind of wait and see guy. So I think snipping off those bad leaves would help.

    I really think you have a magnesium deficiency which can look like a virus or fungal infection. Add some compost to the soil around the plant to give it the needed nutrients. Also, make sure to supply the plant with food especially during its fruiting. I had the same problem before, but I was too afraid to wait and see…so I pulled the “infected” plants up and out of the garden.

    I hope it helped. I enjoy your blog so much, I’d hate to see you suffer the loss of a plant. Good luck and God Bless.

  23. Becky Says:

    Hi, I just read a article on this it looks like magnizuem deficenty, excuse the spelling.

  24. GardenDmpls Says:

    Sunburn or windburn. When they are first put outside, they do not have a thick ,waxy cuticle layer to prevent dehydration, and they look just like this. If they are sheltered they build up the layer and do fine. I would put a milk jug around this one to protect it and wait until it showed new leaves before removing the old ones. It should recover and do fine.

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