7 Tomato Plant Problems And How To Fix Them
More and more people are herb and vegetable gardening. In fact, three million people planted a home garden just this year alone. I was one of them 🙂
Whether you are a first-time gardener or a seasoned gardener, chances are, you’re growing tomatoes in your home garden. Nine out of ten gardeners are growing tomatoes at home not only because they’re easier to maintain, but, also because of the health benefits and the taste. Nothing beats the taste of a fresh homegrown tomato!
Tomatoes are also, for the most part, one of the easiest to grow. In my opinion, herbs are the easiest followed by cherry tomatoes.
However, just like any other plant you may grow, there are obstacles that can stand in your way when growing tomatoes. Your plants may not bear any fruit, or may grow tomatoes that are misshapen
have black spots
are half eaten by a caterpillar
or any number of other problems.
Don’t throw in the towel before you even start! We’re going to discuss the top challenges tomato growers might encounter and how to deal with them. I have run into some of these issues myself and I have found some solutions that might help you, too.
Recognize The Problem
The first step in dealing with an ailing plant is to know what exactly the problem is. When identifying the issue:
1. Determine which part of the plant is affected. Is it the plant itself, the stems, the leaves, the roots, or the flowers?
2. Note the differences. When you compare the affected plant to a healthy plant, what are the differences? A healthy tomato plant has medium-green leaves and has soft fuzz while an affected plant may have brown or black patches, chewed edges and fuzzy mold growing on the stems and leaves.
3. Check for insects. What are the insects or pests you can see on your plants? Are they on the stems or the leaves? Are they under the leaves or on top? If you can see them, take a photo and contact your local County Extension Office to identify what the insects are. Remember: Some insects are beneficial to us and plants, so, just because you see one doesn’t mean you have to kill it.
Now that you know what’s causing the problem it’s easier to narrow down the possible disease or pest problem in your tomato plant and how to fix it.
Common Tomato Problems
How Do I Fix Blossom end Rot On My Tomatoes?
Blossom end rot is a black spot on the bottom part of a healthy and plump tomato. Even if you try and cut off the black part, you will still see the flesh of the fruit unappetizing.
Blossom end rot is usually caused by poor watering habits or a lot of hot and dry weather. It may also happen when your plants do not get the right amount of calcium from the soil or the soil pH level is so low that it prevents the plant from being able to absorb the available calcium.
Test the soil before planting. You can get soil test kits from your local County Extension office or local nursery.
If a lack of calcium is the culprit, fertilizer is what it needs. You can add homemade compost or crushed eggshells to the soil to add in more calcium.
You may also spray your plants with this homemade foliar spray:
- Boil 20 eggs in a pan covered in 1 gallon of water
- Bring to a rolling boil
- Remove from heat and allow to cool
- Let sit for 24 hours
- Strain the water from any egg shell fragments
- Spray this solution on your plants
Stink Bugs are triangular green and brown pests that feed on ripened fruits. This may cause quite the damage to your tomatoes and will leave small holes on the surface of the fruit.
The best solution to get rid of stink bugs is Diatomaceous Earth. You may also create your own organic neem oil extract by mixing 1 teaspoon of neem oil with 1/3 teaspoon mild detergent and 1 liter warm water. Spray this on your plants.
Your fruits may look nice, red, and edible, but, the shape is wrong. You might see ripples, lumps, and bulges all around the fruit.
Catfacing happens when the weather is too cold during the pollinating cycle, causing the flowers to fall off. Although the flowers fell off, the fruits will continue to grow.
Once catfacing appears, there is nothing you can do. The only solution is to avoid with prevention measures.
If you are uncertain about the weather, make sure that the soil temperature in your home garden is at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In cases of cold weather, raise the soil temperature by using ground covers.
Sunscalding appears in the form of white spots or blotches on the tomatoes. This is caused by sunlight which burns the sensitive skin of the fruits.
The only cure for this problem is to prevent too much sunlight from burning or scalding your fruit. You can use nets to cover the plants, which also keeps slugs away. This will reduce the amount of light which will shine on the fruits.
At first look, the fruits may look normal but once you cut them, you may see a lot of spaces between the outer layer and the fruits inside.
Once you hold the fruits, you may also notice that they are very light. The main reason for this is poor nutrition or lousy pollination. Be aware though that some seeds have been cultivated to purposely do this, for stuffing and so forth for recipes.
Make sure to prepare the soil better by infusing it with homemade fertilizer. Place used coffee grounds on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for a few minutes to dry them out. Mix the coffee grounds in the soil.
Also be sure to check this out, too: 7 Tips & Ideas To Prepare Your Garden Soil!
You may also bake some eggshells in the oven to dry them out. Crunch them into very small pieces and scatter them around your plants to supply calcium.
Spider mites are the worst villain among pests. These tiny insects are very small and super hard to see and they love creating webs around your plants.
You can easily get rid of spider mites using neem oil. Neem oil can suffocate them. Mix 1 teaspoons of neem oil with 1/3 teaspoon mild detergent and 1 liter of warm water. Transfer to a spray bottle and spray on the infected plants as needed. It wont kill them on contact, but, you’ll see them decline over the next several days.
According to Get Busy Gardening:
Basically, the way it works is that it messes with the brains and hormones of the bugs, so they stop eating and mating, and eventually die off. Neem oil also works to smother the pests, which kills them faster.
In addition to killing plant pests, neem oil repels them, and it has a slight residual effect to keep bugs away longer than other organic pest control methods.
Cutworms are a kind of caterpillar but instead of turning into a butterfly, they turn into moths in the end. (I just killed 7 of these on my tomatoes yesterday :/)
These pests got their name since they can cut the stems of young plants in half. They also come out at night so spotting them may be a problem. But, if you see what looks a lot like rat or mouse dropping on or around your plants – it’s probably from cutworms… They blend right into your plant colors, too, so it makes them hard to see, as they don’t scamper away when they see you! lol
Since cutworms are coming from the soil, make obstacles of paper cups by punching holes in the bottom of the cup and pulling the seedling through the punched holes. Once your plants start to develop, you may remove these paper cups.
You may also spray your plants with the neem oil solution. Neem oil will prevent cutworms from climbing the stems of your tomatoes. They also eat your tomatoes and can be found on full grown plants. Just inspect your plants often for any sort of insect or affliction.
What tomato plant issues have you run into?