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How to treat yellow leaves on tomato plants

Tomato plants yellow leaves
Tomato plants yellow leaves
Monica Lehua

What's wrong with my tomato plant, the leaves are yellow?

Wondering why some of your tomato plants are flourishing and some are turning yellow and look like they are about to die? According to Tee Riddle of The Veggie Gardener, yellowing leaves on tomato plants are not uncommon. He warns home gardeners not to panic and there could be a simple solution, but first you need to play detective.

Here’s a list of some of the possible problems, it could be one or a combine of these:

  • Over or under watering
  • Nitrogen deficiencies in the soil
  • Lack of sunlight on the leaves
  • Disease or Pest

Water and Sunlight

If a plant is recently transplanted it needs a good watering but not flooding once a day. It should have at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. The problem is if you live in a very hot/sunny climate it may have too much sun or water and that’s where you need to find a balance.

Does your tomato plant have enough nitrogen?

Nitrogen makes all plants green, so a lack of it in the soil can cause yellow leaves on your tomato plant. You can do a simple soil test that you get from your local garden shop or online. Caution, if you put too much nitrogen you could burn the plant. How do you add nitrogen to your plants you may ask? Well if you’re trying to go organic or non-organic. Organic gardeners use a combination of methods including: adding compost or composted manure, planting nitrogen fixing plants like peas or beans or adding coffee grounds; however this could raise acidity levels. Non-organic ways to fix nitrogen levels is the use of fertilizers.

Disease or Pest

This is probably the most challenging thing for a home gardener to try to investigate, especially the inexperienced. Best thing to do if you’re part of a community garden or join a group online of gardeners and do some research to compare symptoms and photos of your yellow leaf tomato plants. Some of the diseases that you’ll want to investigate are:

  • Curly top virus
  • Ringtop virus
  • Blossum End Rot
  • Downy Mildew
  • Powdery Mildew

As far as pests go, the more infamous tomato plant killers are:

  • Aphids
  • Cutworms
  • Hornworms
  • Moles
  • Snails and slugs
  • Voles, mice, rat

Fix your problem with container gardening

Now you may be thinking, I should just throw this plant away and start again – and for the most part it may be cheaper for you to get another plant from your local garden shop. The problem is if you have a deficiency in your soil or pests are in your garden, then it will happen again. One possible solution is to get a 3-gallon bucket and transplant your tomato plant in the bucket with a controlled soil – where you know the soil is balanced correctly, for example a store bought potting mix for vegetables. Secondly, you can also control sun/water. The only way to try to control pests is to have the plant in a screened in patio and then you can see if any of these problems are addressed you’ll have a better chance of figuring out the yellow leaf problem for your future tomato plant gardening. If you have suggestions or would like to share your experience, make a comment below.

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