Tomatoe Plant Leaves are all Brown

LindaMA(MA z5)September 15, 2005

One of my tomatoe plants, which is in a container, has leaves that are turning brown and falling off the vine. Funny thing is, there are still tons of tomatoes on this plant. It looks hideous, like a bunch of branches with small green tomatoes on it. Can it be that it's not getting enough sun? Where it's placed in my yard, the sun doesn't fall on it for the same amount of time that it did through the height of the summer. Any other suggestions on what might be going on? Has it just reached the end of it's time? This shouldn't be, other's around my neighborhood have tomatoe plants that still look pretty good. Any thoughts?

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suze9(z8b Bastrop Co., TX)

Tomato plants tend to lose leaves over time, especially towards the bottom of the plant. Container plantings are even more prone to this.

Probably nothing to be concerned about, especially as you're heading into the end of your season.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 9:12AM
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LindaMA(MA z5)

Do you think that the tomatoes will turn red, there are lots of tomatoes on both plants and now, especially after yesterday's rain, the plants look like vines with balls hanging from them. They really do look pitiful, almost like some type of disease got to them!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 9:46AM
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suze9(z8b Bastrop Co., TX)

Do you think that the tomatoes will turn red

Linda, I have no way of knowing :), and I'm not familar with your climate. All I can do is guess. Most varieties reach mature size anywhere from 25-60 days after they set fruit, assuming good growing conditions. Shorter days and cooler temperatures will slow that down though.

What varieties are you growing, and how close to mature size are they?

When I go here, it tells me that the first frost date for your area is around early to mid October. Does that sound about right?

So that tells me it has already significantly cooled off in your area and thus fruit is going to ripen slower than it would if you had some good heat.

And yes, it would help if you move your containers to the sunniest spot possible.

They really do look pitiful, almost like some type of disease got to them!

Where on the plants are they losing leaves? Is it primarily concentrated on the lower parts of the plants?

You might want to go to the tomato problem solver and look at the various foliage diseases.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 11:36AM
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LindaMA(MA z5)

Thank you! From the bottom to 3/4 of the way up the plants, the leaves have turned brown and they are falling off. Funny, the very top of the plants have new growth with new blossoms and also one plant has sprouted two new tomatoes but they do look sickly the rest of the way down. Buck's County and Fourth of July are the 2 varities that I grew this year. I'm not concerned with the latter, however Buck's County was delicious and has a lot of green tomatoes on the vines, both plants do. I think they've probably run out of time, to bad the seasons weren't just a little longer.

Thanks for you input!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 4:37PM
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suze9(z8b Bastrop Co., TX)

Unless looking at them is bothering you or you're getting tired of tending to them, may as well leave them in.

Pinch all blooms off from this point forward. Also, it may not hurt to remove any fruits that are much smaller than a golf ball (on the Fourth of July, ones smaller than a quarter). That way, the plant can put its energy into ripening the larger fruit. If the containers aren't too large for you to move, you can always set them in the garage for the first few nights below 40 degrees or so or until the remaining tomatoes ripen.

(nights below 40 will really slow a plant down significantly)

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 6:40PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)


Based on what I see in my backyard and being next to you in NYS I don't think the leaves are turning brown b'c they've run out of time.

What you describe with new foliage appearing at the top is typical of plants that have had either Early Blight ( A. solani) or Septoria Leaf Spot.

Since you described no progression of disease as in what happened when the leaves started getting spots on them, which I think they did to start with, it's impossible to know which disease.

But it doesn't really matter since the fungal diseases are treated the same, or should I say prevented the same way, and one of the best ways is to use Daconil as a spray.

my plants are green as can be, growing well, have been exposed to temps in the high 30's and are still ripening fruits, so brown leaves are not the end of the season. Most years the only time my plants go down is after the first hard frost.

As to what will ripen, as Suze said, hard to tell, but without leaves for photosynthesis and energy made for the ripening process I wouldn't be overly positive except for those fruits that have already got some color on them.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2005 at 2:44PM
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Hi Linda and everyone, I am new to this forum, and my main tomato problem this year is the same problem you are having. I live in a desert climate in S. California, our high's have been in the low 100's and we have not gone lower than 65 for the summer. I have 20 plants, all different types, all started from seed, situated in different locations and all in pots. I thought the problem I was having was because of the heat. But obviously not as your temps are very different than mine, and you are describing all my plants exactly.!! I am so disheartened by this, that I am ready to give up sowing and planting tomato plants, (which is also a disheartening proposition). So, is there an organic solution to this problem.? Also, what's left of my poor plants, the crickets ate.!!!! Any organic suggestions for this problem.? Thanks guys.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 10:08PM
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whizzer75(z7 Al)

Check the Tomato Problem Solver and see if you can match your condition to those shown. If not then check for insect damage.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 12:30PM
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My plants have been doing great, lots of tomatoes. Now a lot of the bottom leaves are turning yellow and then brown, very dry and brittle. The weather had been very dry and now we've had a lot of rain.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 11:51AM
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I have 3 plants in containers and 7 in the ground - only the container plants are having this problem (might I add all the containers are new, quite large, and I only used organic potting soil in them) - I've started to water them daily as opposed to every 3rd day. I think this is helping though I may be a bit late at this point

I know that one must avoid the urge to overwater tomatoes but if it has been really hot and dry maybe your little friends need a nice tall glass of water - container plants dry out much faster, esp. if the container isn't big enough -

at this point you have nothing to lose - why not give them a really good soaking before bed and see if they perk up at all by morning.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 5:13PM
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I'm new to the forum, and a relatively inexperienced gardener but eager to learn :-)

Just need a little help ---

Just moved here to South Florida from San Francisco Bay Area. Big difference in climate! Very hot and humid at this time of year.

Trying to adjust to learning about the new zone, plant varieties which work, and pests/diseases, treatments.

Got a Big Beef Hybrid Tomato in a pot on my patio (which I was planning on transplanting in August after we move nearby to a home with a big yard :-)

First few weeks, noticed hornworms and treated with seven dust (anyone know of an organic alternative to that in this area?). The seven worked and it perked right up for a few weeks with lots of growth. Even started getting a few blossoms.

This week, it took a bad turn and started having brown wilty leaves, bottom foot of the plant. I figured out online that it's probably fusarium wilt? At the bottom of this post is a link to a site which has photos of fusarium wilt. I think it looks pretty close to what my plant is looking like right now.

Everything I've read seems to recommend discarding the plant, and not replanting in the same soil.

Is there any way to save the plant that anyone knows of?

I was thinking of seeing if gently rinsing the root system of all soil and then replanting in new soil would heal it.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance to the forum members ---

Here is a link that might be useful: Fusarium and Verticillium Wilts of Tomato, Potato, Pepper, and Eggplant

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 12:49PM
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I am new to gardening and am growing 1 cherry tomato plant in my aerogarden 3. The bottom 2 levels of leaves are drying out and dying as new branches seem to grow at the top. The plant is only 5 weeks old. What could be wrong with it?

Its growing in water & I added the nutrients aerogrow provides right on schedule.

Is there a reason? too dry in my apt?

it does sit next to another aerogarden growing lettuce.... is it getting too much light?


    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 9:06PM
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If the leaves all turned brown and I can just run my hand town the stem and they all come off what do I do with the stem? Should I cut them off or just cut them back some or what?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 7:24PM
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