What's wrong with my tomato plant? We have the answer

healthy tomatoes
Public Domain Healthy tomato plant / Lars_Nissen_Photoart

Here are 4 common problems with tomatoes during the summer – and tips for how to fix them.

This time of the year you’re either waiting for your tomatoes to ripen on the vine, or you’re wondering what’s wrong with them. This short video from the University of Illinois Extension covers a couple of problems you may be experiencing with your tomatoes.

Watch what’s wrong with my tomato plants?

1. Yellowing leaves

As explained in the video, yellowing and discolored leaves where the veins are still green is a sign of either a phosphorus or calcium deficiency.

2. Container tomatoes that are dying

The health of the container grown tomatoes shown above is the goal. If yours have have stems that are withering, it is an indication that the plant is not getting enough water. The roots are drying out and dying and as a result the upper parts of the plant are starting to die back.

3. Splitting fruit

Like the foliage that’s dying back, splitting tomato fruit is a sign of uneven watering. If the plant receives too much water while the fruit is ripening, the skin will split because the fruit’s skin can no longer expand.

4. Blossom-end rot

Another problem with tomatoes this time of year that is not covered in the video is blossom-end rot. It starts as a small tan-colored blemish that soon turns into what looks like a sore. It's not a disease, but a calcium deficiency in the fruit as it is developing.

Fixing your tomato problems

If you’re experiencing any of these problems with your tomato plants there’s still a chance to salvage a tomato harvest this year. Fix your tomato plants' deficiencies by feeding them with a fertilizer designed specifically for tomatoes.

Water regularly (and evenly) to keep your container-grown tomatoes from drying out to the point of death. If the soil has dried out: water slowly and evenly until the soil is saturated with water. You can stick your finger an inch down into the soil and if it is still dry water it some more. Mulching your containers will help with evaporation and you’ll have more time to water before the soil dries out completely.

Splitting fruit is more of an aesthetic problem, but one that will be minimized when you’re watering evenly and not waiting for your soil to dry out completely before watering.

With some attention to your plants and a little luck you’ll still be able to harvest some home grown tomatoes this fall.

How are the tomatoes doing in your garden? Are you swimming in fruit? Wondering what you did wrong?

Browse all of our tomato content for mouth-watering tomato recipes, savvy tomato growing tips, and up-to-the minute tomato breakthroughs.

Want more garden goodness? Follow the MrBrownThumb urban gardening blog.

Editor's note: This updated post was originally published in 2012.

What's wrong with my tomato plant? We have the answer
Here are 4 common problems with tomatoes during the summer – and tips for how to fix them.

Related Content on Treehugger.com