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Sick tomato plant – any ideas?

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    Hi Folks,

    I have a sick tomato plant and my gardening books are not helping! Had 2 earlier in the year like this, which I pulled out…see photo, but basically all the tips have gone very, very pale and stunted. The plants to either side of it are growing fine.

    Do you know what is wrong?

    Should I pull it out or can it be saved with something?

    The plants get worm-pee every couple of days from a watering can (base of plant only), and usually around 30mins water from dripper system every 2-3 days. The bed has been pretty dry and I’ve noticed a lot of the toms have leaves that are curling up a bit (although still green) – any thoughts on this curling either?

    Ta, Amy


    Amy, I am sorry but I cant help with that one. Verticulum wilt starts from the base of the plant so its not that but it appears to be a wilt of some sort.

    Its hard to tell from the photo but has the fruit weight caused the branch to sag and kink where it is tied to the stake?

    A tip on watering, tomatoes haqve quite deep roots systems once established so is 30 minutes of watering to much?

    I hope this is a help, cheers porgey.


    Nematodes? :shrug:

    Are you planting them in the same place, or rotating them in different spots in your garden. If they’re going in the same place all the time, the soil borne pathoghens (nematodes) can attack the roots, not allowing them to take up nutrients/water etc.

    Maybe have a look at the roots, and if there’s lumpy ‘thingos’ on them, then that’s what it will be.

    Other than that, it may be a mineral deficiency of some type. Potassium or magnesium?


    Thanks guys.

    The garden is a brand new one (dug from the lawn last year) so hasn’t had tomatoes or any relatives in it that we know – we bought some compost from a landscape place when it first went in, and have already made mental notes as to where the toms were last year, are this year, will be next year, etc to keep good rotation going. Magnesium I can try fixing with some epsom salts…what would have potassium in usable amounts? I guess I can pull one plant out to see what it looks like. They are only on a dripper system so the water volume for 30mins is actually very low and I’ve been thinking they are not getting enough water over all but that doesn’t account for this one plant looking sick. The branches are all fine, just going all odd and stunted. The fruit and leaves lower down even look fine, and it doesn’t appear to be spreading to the neighbours. I’m discovering that growing veges is easy, growing good amounts, all the time, that’s much harder! ;op

    Cheers, Amy


    Tomato plants love to have banana peels buried beneath them or around them if they are already established. Banana are a source of potassium, so that may be an idea for your next patch, bury the peels whenever you have a banana??


    Do you know the variety of tomato? The plants beside it look nice and healthy.

    Could the dripper watering this plant be blocked?


    If the plants around it are fine and in similar soil it may be a viral rather than nutritional – we’ve had similar looking things here in the past and I was fairly casual about it, but lost most of last year’s tomato crop to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. Your pic looks a bit like Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus? Google for pics of these.

    Viruses can be spread by sucking insects (thrips, whitefly, jassids etc), so best to pull the plant as soon as you are pretty sure that it is viral, to stop it spreading to the rest of the plants.


    Yeah I reckon you’re right dustyglr70… here’s another link to fusarium wilt, and there’s a picture which looks similar to yours Amy.


    I was just coming back to say I happened to be reading a blog (looking for organic fruit fly sprays) and he talked about same sort of thing you have with your tomatoes…

    I haven’t got a clue what the mystery disease is, other than to guess it’s some kind of fungal disease brought on by our humid summer. It couldn’t be fusarium wilt, which you can get if you don’t practise crop rotation and grow tomato-family plants (eg, tomatoes, potatoes, chillies, capsicums, eggplants) in the same spot in successive years. I hadn’t grown any of these plants in my tomato patch previously.


    Thanks heaps folks…does look very similar to Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus. I think our mandarin tree has had whitefly, although I haven’t seen any near the rest of the garden. Will pull this tomato out at any rate I think as I don’t want the rest to be infected.



    All my tomatoes did this each and every time I tried to grow them. Including in pots. Turns out the local red-legged earth mites carry a tomato virus of some kind.

    So, no home-grown tomatoes for me here!

    Apparently putting sulphur around the roots of the healthy plants can stop the earth mites from getting into them.

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