How to Fix Wilt in Tomato Plants


Tomatoes require minimal care to thrive, making them a common plant in many home gardens. They are prone to some diseases, many of which may cause the plant to wilt. Wilt is noticeable when the leaves begin drooping, shriveling or falling off. It does not necessarily mean the plant is diseased, though. Wilt is also caused by poor cultural practices. Discovering the cause of wilt is the first requirement before you can attempt to cure it.

Step 1

Stick your finger into the soil near the tomato plant. If the top 2 inches of soil feel dry, the plant isn't being provided enough water. Provide 1 to 2 inches of water weekly, irrigating at the base of the plant. Lay a 2-inch layer of mulch around the plant to help preserve soil moisture between waterings.

Step 2

Inspect the leaves. Note if they are yellowing, turning brown or developing spots. Inspect any tomatoes on the plant and note whether they are developing well or if they appear small and stunted.

Step 3

Perform a soil pH test, available at garden centers or through a county extension office, to determine the pH range of the soil. Add sulfur or limestone at the rate recommended on the test to the bed to bring the soil pH between 6.5 and 7.0. This helps eliminate fusarium wilt, a deadly disease indicated by yellowing lower leaves.

Step 4

Rinse all gardening tools in a solution of 1 part bleach combined with 9 parts water before using them in the tomato bed. This kills any fungus spores that lead to wilt and prevents problems from spreading to the tomato plants.

Step 5

Dig up and destroy any plants that die due to wilt to prevent it from spreading to healthy plants. Also destroy any plants that form a white mold on the stem at soil level. This is Southern blight, which quickly spreads among plants.

Step 6

Treat any insect problems immediately, as they are the main carriers of spotted wilt. Spotted wilt causes spotting on the leaves along with wilt. Check the underside of leaves for insects such as aphids or thrips. Treat with insecticidal soap or pesticides formulated for the specific insect.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid planting tomatoes in an area where wilt was a problem in the previous season. The disease organisms may still be present in the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Mulch
  • Soil pH test
  • Sulfur
  • Limestone
  • Bleach
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Pesticide


  • University of Tennessee Extension: Tomato Wilt Problems
Keywords: fixing tomato wilt, tomato diseases, plant infections

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.