Tomato plants wilting, is a worrying issue, but there are possible causes of this, which include watering issues, diseases, pests, cold temperatures, and transplant shock.Tomato Plants Wilting

Continue reading to learn more as we dig deeper into the reasons and their corresponding solutions!

What Are the Common Causes That Tomato Plants Wilt?

The common causes that tomato plants wilt are watering issues, or having tomato spotted wilt virus, fusarium wilt, bacterial or verticillium wilt. They may have southern blight, bad companion plants, root-knot nematodes, being subjected to extreme cold temperatures, or having a transplanting shock.

– Watering Issue

Plant wilting is a common result of plants with watering issues. For tomatoes, wilting can happen when the plant lacks or receives too much water. Moreover, the lack of irrigation will cause the plant to be dehydrated and result in wilting. Once the plant droops, it is a clear indication that the cells are dehydrated. It will also make the leaves appear and feel thinner.

On the other hand, your plant may also wilt if it is receiving too much water. You will notice that there are puddles of water surrounding your plant while the soil around the plant will be damp, and the leaves will droop but will remain hydrated.

– Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

The wilting of tomato plants is usually associated with infectious diseases like the TSW virus. Wilting is the most typical symptom of this virus that the plant may have caught it. This virus will cause tomato plants to have leaves that are drooping, along with slow growth. It can also be recognized through the numerous brown or yellow dots that give the leaves a bronze appearance and in short, it would look weakened.Reasons of Tomato Plants Wilting

– Fusarium Wilt

This is a common fungal wilt disease that is present in regions with warm and humid conditions. The fungus infects the plant through the roots, as this fungus is soil-borne. As such, you will see how it affects the plant’s vascular system, resulting in wilting and stunted growth.

The lower leaves will initially turn yellow and begin to die. Sometimes, only one side or branch of the plant is initially impacted, but eventually, the plant will perish in the long run because it is a heavy wilt.

– Verticillium Wilt

This is prevalent in the north and prefers cool, damp soils. It drastically reduces the vigor and output of tomato plants rather than killing them. When this happens, it leaves an impact on the plant’s vascular system, which results in wilting and stunted growth.

Slowly, you will see how the lower leaves will initially turn yellow and begin to die. Sometimes, only one side or branch of the plant is initially impacted, but eventually, the plant will perish.

– Southern Blight

This is another fungus-related disease that causes rapid wilting and eventually results in the loss of the entire plant. High temperatures and moist, acidic soils are ideal for this fungus’ growth.

It enters the stalk close to the soil line and is found in the top two to three inches of the soil. When there is a great load of moisture nearby, the infection will quickly cause the plant to wither and leave a noticeable, dry, rotting patch at the base of the stem.

– Bacterial Wilt

Although it is less common than the first two fungal diseases, it is equally lethal and must be caught from the early stage. It is frequently found in hot, humid climates along the coast, and once established, it continues to be contagious for a long time.

Similar to other wilt diseases, it affects tomato plants by blocking the vascular system and preventing the plant from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. But the signs are different, and for this, there is a contrast to wilt caused by fungi; bacterial wilt causes the youngest, which is the highest leaves to wilt, and then the remainder of the plant will follow until it dies.

Unfortunately, while the leaves remain green, there aren’t many indicators of it, making it challenging to spot. Frequently, it takes the tomato plants dying before this illness can be definitively diagnosed. When you cut a tomato plant impacted by it, a white milky fluid will appear in place of the brown fungal growth, and you can easily see it.

– Bad Companion Plant

How well your tomatoes do can be greatly influenced by the plant you grow next to them. Black walnut is one of the plants that can injure your tomatoes because it produces a chemical called juglone, which is harmful to tomatoes.

Juglone leaks into the soil when plants are planted too close to one another, where it is then absorbed by the plants through the roots. The plant will first display signs of walnut toxicity, such as slowed growth and yellowing, and withering of the foliage, which will eventually cause the plant to die.Details of Tomato Plants Wilting

Pest-related wilting may be less frequent, and the other symptoms of an infestation will typically be visible long before the plant begins to wilt. However, it is still helpful to determine what kind of pest you are dealing with, and to solve it from the first stage.

The stalk borer is the primary bug responsible for wilting tomato plants. These tiny caterpillars make a small hole in the plant’s main stem and then hide there for the duration of their stay, steadily eating away at your plant.

In the plant’s stalk, they virtually ruin the entire system for transporting water and nutrients. Fortunately, the plant does not always perish as a result of this, and some healthy plants might still live and yield a few fruits with proper care.

– Root Knot Nematodes

Nematodes are little, wormlike organisms that infest tomato roots and consume them and they can come from the companion plants to the tomatoes. Their presence damages the roots’ ability to absorb food and water and causes knots or galls to form on the roots. Wilting, stunted growth, and a pale appearance are all indications of root-knot nematodes, so the plant roots’ knots or galls will also be visible.

– Cold Temperature

Young tomato plants exposed to chilly temperatures may wilt early in the growing season. By the end of the development season, mature tomato wilt and fall over if there is frost. This indicates that your tomato growing season has come to an end.

– Transplant shock

Transplant shock can result from moving plants from one environment to another, from warm soil to cold soil, or from unintentionally harming the roots while replanting. Wilting and yellowing leaves are symptoms of transplant shock, although they are not a cause for concern.

What Are the Solutions to Wilting of the Tomato Plant?

The solutions to wilting tomato plants are reviewing your watering practices, plant-resistant varieties, or planting in containers. You may also cut the tall weeds around the plant, use nematode-resistant varieties of tomatoes, relocate the plant, and give it the right care.Solutions to Tomato Plants Wilting

– Review Your Watering Practice

A watering issue is a problem with the quickest solution. You either start increasing or reducing the water applied to the plant, but now, the trick here is to understand the signs that the plant is showing.

If it lacks water, the quickest solution is to water the plant, and after a good, thorough watering, you will see that the plant should regain its vigor within a few hours. Generally speaking, you should only water your plant if you feel that the soil has properly dried, and it has thinned, droopy leaves. As a reference, tomatoes require at least two inches of water every week, which can be delivered by rainfall or hand-watering.

In order to help prevent the same issue from reoccurring in the future, reviewing your watering practices is a good idea. Daily, you should check the soil and water as soon as the inch at the top has completely dried out because you must be very mindful of this notion.

However, depending on how long you’ve been overwatering, this problem may also have a simple solution: reduce your watering. Before rehydrating the soil, give it time to completely dry up, and then, see if the plant recovers.

– Plant Resistant Varieties

Sadly, there is no solution to the identified diseases like the TSW virus, wilt diseases caused by fungi, such as the Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt, Southern blight, and bacterial wilt. The plants will probably perish, production will be affected, and the disease may spread across your garden. For this, you should try to remove the entire plant and kill it to stop it from harming any further plants.

You shouldn’t plant any more tomatoes in the same soil because the fungus is soil-borne and will remain there for at least a year. Alternatively, you can plant resistant varieties, so look for the resistance label V for verticillium and F for fusarium, or plant in new pots and soil.

– Plant in Containers

Fortunately, this problem may be avoided quite simply. If your garden has a walnut tree, put your tomatoes as far away from the tree as you can, ideally between 75 and 100 feet. You may also plant your tomatoes in containers so the tree and plant don’t share soil.

– Cut Tall Weeds Around Your Plant

Unfortunately, insecticides are ineffective in controlling stalk borers. If plants died because of them, it is ideal that you dispose of them, as stalk borers will also be eliminated if the plants are destroyed. Given that this pest mainly comes from weedy areas, it is also ideal for cutting or mowing tall weeds around your vegetable garden.

– Use Nematode-Resistant Tomato Variety

The letter “N” following the variety name designates nematode-resistant tomato varieties. Growing nematode-resistant cultivars over several seasons can reduce nematode populations. However, nematode populations will then increase when susceptible types are planted, and the wilting issue will be reduced as well.

– Relocate Your Plants

If you move the plants to a warmer location or the temperature rises, especially at night, the plants can frequently recover. In addition to this, as long as they aren’t displaying signs of severe frost damage.

– Keep Your Care Practice Constant

Simply give your tomato plant some time to get used to its new surroundings. When transplanting, try to keep circumstances and care practices relatively constant to make the adjustment for the plant simpler.


There are numerous reasons why tomato plants wilt, and knowing the reasons why is already solving half of the problem, so here’s the recap:

  • Wilted tomato plants commonly have water issues, which can be due to either under-watering or overly watering because they don’t fare well in frequently dry or wet soil.
  • Typically, there are three kinds of fungal diseases that cause wilting in tomato plants: fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, and southern blight.
  • It is best to remove and destroy the plants that are affected by these diseases, along with those affected by tomato spotted wilt virus and bacterial wilt.
  • Pests like nematodes can be killed by chemical pesticides, whereas insecticides are ineffective for stalk borers.
  • For plants wilting because of cold temperatures and transplant shock, simply relocate to a warmer location and give the plant time to recover.

With all the discussed information here, you will be better equipped and more confident in dealing with your wilted tomato plant.

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