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From tiny grapes to huge, meaty beefeaters, it’s the most common homegrown vegetable in America — the tomato. Diseases of tomato plants are of concern to every gardener whether they grow one plant in a patio pot or enough to can and freeze for the coming year.
There are too many tomato plant diseases to list in one article, and the truth is many of them fall under the same types or categories of disease. In tomato plants in the home garden, the type or category and its symptoms are more important than the individual bacteria or virus, which can only be diagnosed through a professional laboratory. The following list of tomato diseases and their descriptions are broken into three categories.
List of Tomato Diseases
Fungus Based Tomato Plant Diseases
This first list of tomato diseases are caused by fungi. Fungal attacks are probably the most common of tomato diseases. Easily transferred by air or physical contact, the spores can lay dormant through the winter to attack again when the weather warms.
Blights – Early blight begins as small black lesions on the leaves and soon forms concentric rings like a target. This tomato disease’s telltale mark is found at the stem end of the fruit which will turn black. Late blight usually occurs when late-season temperatures cool and dew is heavy, with dark water-soaked spots on the leaves. The fully formed fruit rots on the vine before it fully ripens.
Wilts – Fusarium wilt is distinctive among tomato plant diseases because it begins by attacking only one half of the leaf and takes over one side of the plant before it moves to the other. Leaves will yellow, wilt, and fall. Verticillium wilt presents with the same leaf symptom but attacks both sides of the plant at once. Many hybrids are resistant to these two tomato plant diseases.
Anthracnose – Anthracnose is a common disease in tomato plants. It demonstrates as small circular, bruised spots on the skin that invite other fungi to infect the interior of the fruit.
Molds and Mildews – These should be included in any list of tomato diseases. They are found where plants are closely planted and air circulation is poor and will normally look like a powdery substance on the leaves.
Virus Based Diseases of Tomato Plants
Viruses are the second most common in diseases of tomato plants. There are a half dozen or more mosaic viruses that make the botanist’s list of tomato diseases. Mosaics cause stunted growth, deformed fruit, and leaves mottled with colors in grays, browns, greens, and yellows. Tomato leaf curl appears as it sounds; green leaves are curled and deformed.
Bacterial Based Disease in Tomato Plants
Bacteria are next on our list of tomato diseases.
Bacterial spot – Raised black spots surrounded by a yellow halo that eventually scab over indicates bacterial spot, a disease in tomato plants that can reside in the seed.
Bacterial speck – Less destructive is bacterial speck. Its much smaller scabs rarely penetrate the skin and can be scraped off with a fingernail.
Bacterial wilt – Bacterial wilt is another devastating tomato plant disease. The bacteria enter through damaged roots and clog the water carrying system with slime as it multiplies. The plants wilt, literally, from the inside out.
Environmental Issues in Tomato Plants
While often a problem, blossom end rot isn’t found among the diseases of tomato plants. Blossom end rot is, in fact, not a disease at all, but a condition caused by a calcium deficiency in the fruit usually caused by extreme fluctuations in moisture.
20 Common Tomato Pests
As mentioned above, the pests you encounter will depend on where in the world you live, and the climate and conditions to be found there.
But these 20 common pests might be what is eating your tomatoes.
If you already have an idea of the culprit, scroll down through this alphabetical list to discover how to deal with it. If you are not sure which pest you are looking at, browsing this list should give you a better idea.
Read on for details of common pests and what you might see if you are dealing with them.
We’ll also give you some tips to help you deal with each problem (or prevent a serious infestation in future).
Aphids are sap-sucking insects that can become a problem not just for tomatoes but also for a range of other common garden plants and crops.
These are amongst the most destructive insect pests on cultivated plants in temperate climate zones.
You will be able to see the small, soft bodies insects crawling on the stems and foliage of your tomato plants, often close to the growing tip.
Green flies and blackflies are the common names for common types of aphid.
Fortunately, while they can cause plants to reduce in vigor and yield, a smaller infestation will not generally be too much of a concern.
Usually, you will be able to rub off the small insects by hand if there are only a few of them.
If there are more aphids than can easily be removed by hand, you could also:
- Pinch or prune off heavily affected leaves or other parts of plants.
- Use a strong jet of water to blast aphids off plants. (Spray affected plants every day until infestation is gone.)
- Create a tomato leaf spray to kill aphids without hurting beneficial insects. Take 1-2 cups of tomato leaves and steep in 2 cups of water over night. Strain leaves from the water and spray onto plants. Make sure to get the underside of leaves and be thorough.
- Consider using a solution with Castile soap (natural, liquid soap) to suffocate them.
To prevent severe aphid populations on your tomatoes in future you can:
- Plant to attract ladybugs, syrphidae species and other predatory insects eat aphids and keep numbers down.
- Plant trap crops that aphids will be drawn to in preference to feasting on your edible crops.
- Attract insect eating birds (like swifts) to your garden.
The methods described above can also work for a range of other insect pests.
2. Blister Beetles
Blister beetles are members of the Meloidae family, and many different kinds are found across the US.
They are common in the east, south and midwest, though they are also found in the grasslands of the west and south, and in gardens along the Pacific coast.
These pests are best known for the harm they can cause to humans. When injured or crushed, they release a blistering agent called cantharidin.
These pests can also pose a threat to your tomatoes – and in fact to many garden plants.
In mid and late summer, they can arrive in swarms and because of their numbers, can do a lot of damage to your tomatoes in a short length of time.
Carefully inspect your plants and pick them off (with gloves!) while there are only a few of them.
If a large infestation arrives, try to remove beetles and the plants they’ve damaged as quickly as possible. If large swarms are a problem, use well-anchored row covers to protect your plants.
To keep numbers down in general, attract birds to eat them. Spinosad is a biopesticide that can be applied.
But note, this can harm honey bees when first applied, so may not be an ideal solution.
3. Colorado Potato Beetle
Colorado potato beetle is one of the best known and wide spread tomato pests in North America. They are found in every state except California, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii.
This pest can affect not only potatoes and tomatoes but also other crops within the Nightshade family, such as peppers, eggplant etc..
They are easily identified by the 10 alternating yellow and black stripes on their shells.
The larvae are usually the most damaging form, feeding on the leaves leaving just the veins and petioles behind. However, the adults also feed on tomato foliage.
Severe damage can result in serious stunting of your tomato plants.
Handpicking the pests off your plants can often save them. Tomatoes can lose up to 30% of their leaves and stems without loss of yield.
Be sure to wear gloves when picking the larvae, and adults off your plants.
These pests can overwinter in the soil, so do not grow tomatoes or other members of the same family in the same spot where you grew them the previous year.
Potatoes around the edge of your garden can act as a trap crop and save your tomatoes.
Planting non-host plants like corn in the area may confuse the beetles and delay infestation. Plant to attract predatory insects like ladybugs and lacewings.
Cutworms are moth caterpillars that live in the soil.
They can belong to a range of different species. Cutworms can be particularly problematic for young tomato seedlings.
Chewing through their thin stems, they can kill a whole crop of newly planted seedlings overnight.
But cutworms can cause damage to mature tomato plants too. They can chew on stems and foliage and leave behind holes and weakened plants.
To stop cutworms from destroying your seedlings, you can place a cardboard collar (made from a 3 x10 inch strip of card) around the plant stem to create a barrier between the stem and the soil.
Cutworms will usually not climb over such a collar to reach the stems.
You can also spread cornmeal around the plants, which will kill cutworms when they eat it. You can also go out with a flashlight at night and hand-pick the culprits off your plants.
Clear away all dead plant material overwinter – cutworms overwinter in dead plant material, so good hygiene practices can help reduce recurrence.
Water well too, as this can also help to disrupt these pests.
Also, be sure to encourage predatory beetles, birds, hedgehogs or other garden wildlife that preys on these caterpillars.
5. Flea Beetles
Flea beetles rarely destroy a tomato crop. But they can damage the plants and reduce vigor. Flea beetle larvae feed on underground parts of the plant, though the damage is not usually that significant.
The main problem is the adult beetles chewing on leaves.
You will see small holes that create a sieve-like appearance. Sometimes flea beetles may also feed on mature fruits. But this is rare.
Flea beetles may not kill your plants – but they can spread disease so it is important to control the problem. You can use sticky traps to catch flea beetles as they jump.
Crop rotation is key to avoiding problems, as infestations may overwinter in the soil.
Repel these pests with basil or catnip. Or use trap crops of nasturtiums or radishes.
Plant to attract beneficial predatory insects which will help keep the numbers of flea beetles down.
Tomato hornworm is the caterpillar of the Manduca quinquemaculata, the five-spotted hawkmoth. It is commonly found across North America and Australia.
They are especially common in the northern United States. A related species, tobacco hornworm, is more common in the south of the US and can also be a pest of tomato plants.
These large caterpillars will eat non stop and can quickly defoliate large parts of tomato plants, creating spotted and chewed leaves, and sometimes also eating the fruit.
They are camouflaged against the leaves and can be difficult to spot. Be sure to look out for dark green or black droppings on top of leaves, and lift leaves to find these large caterpillars underneath.
Being vigilant and picking them off by hand is usually the best course of action.
Encourage predatory species such as parasitic wasps, and companion plant with dill, basil or marigolds, all of which mayhelp to repel these pests.
7. Leaf Hoppers
Leaf hoppers may not be the number one tomato pest. They can often cause more of an issue for other common crops.
But these sap suckers can cause yellowing, spotting, leaf curling and other problems, and can spread disease.
There are a number of different leaf hopper species across North America, and certain leaf hoppers are also found in greenhouses in the UK and elsewhere.
Leaf hoppers in glasshouses/ greenhouses in the UK can cause discoloration that can be mistaken for mineral deficiencies.
In parts of the US, beet leaf hopper is one example of a leaf hopper that can spread pathogens and become a problem on tomato crops.
Attract ladybugs, and other insect predators to keep their numbers down.
And avoid planting host species for the leaf hoppers you have encountered close to your tomatoes. Try to maintain balance in the ecosystem and only use organic pesticides as a last resort for extreme insect infestations.
8. Leaf Miners
Leaf miners are a tomato pest found throughout the UK and Europe. They are a notifiable pest in Northern Ireland.
The leaf miner is a small dark-coloured fly with a yellow dot on its back.
It lays eggs which hatch into small larvae that burrow beneath the leaf surface leaving whitish-silvery trails.
A few leaf-mining flies are also common pests of tomato plants in the US, including Liriomyza sativae, L. trifolii and L. huidobrensis. These also leave similar trails and can reduce vigor of plants.
Leaves with these tell-tale tunnel markings should be removed and destroyed as soon as possible.
Pupae found on leaves should also be removed and carefully destroyed. This is usually only a problem on crops grown undercover.
The introduction of parasitic wasps is one potential form of control for serious infestations.
If your tomatoes are not growing well, yellowing and lacking vigor, and you pull up a plant to find it has lots of unusual knobbly growths, then it may be infected by root knot nematodes.
These nematodes, also sometimes called tomato eelworms, can be quite a serious problem. These nematodes feed off nutrients pumped through tomato plant roots, and can cause problems by impacting the plants’ ability to deliver nutrients to its foliage, flowers and fruits.
Planting marigolds can help to control certain nematodes in your garden.
If you have a severe nematode problem, you should avoid growing susceptible plants in the area for several years.
Always implement good crop rotation practices to avoid build up of the problem. Adding more organic matter can also help.
But if you have a severe problem with nematodes, growing resistant varietals may improve your chances of obtaining good harvests.
The tomato psyllid (Bactericerca cockerelli) is a small, sap-sucking insect that can damage tomato plants. It comes from South and Central America but is also found in parts of the US, New Zealand and other areas.
These insects are around the size of aphids and look like tiny cicada.
The small size of tomato psyllids makes them difficult to see on tomato plants. Moderate to severe crop damage can occur if an infestation is not treated in time.
Sticky traps can be placed, and you can look out for the pysillid sugar, excreted by these insects, on leaves.
You may see slight yellow or purple discoloration of the mid-rib and edges of upper leaves. Leaves may curl.
Always remove any infected material as soon as possible. Be vigilant to reduce the chances of the infestation getting out of control.
To reduce the chances of infestation, avoid planting mallows and other perennial host plants near your tomatoes. Encourage spiders, birds and other natural predators.
11. Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails will be part of a healthy ecosystem in many gardens and having some will usually be a fact of life.
That said, you will have to control populations if they are too large. Slugs and snails can cause a lot of damage and are a particular problem for younger tomato plants.
The most effective way to control slug and snail populations in your garden is to make sure that you have predators around to keep their numbers down.
Attract birds, amphibians, reptiles, some small mammals etc.. Keeping chickens or ducks can also help you control populations.
If you have a bad population imbalance then you will probably have to trap and kill some slugs and snails. (Though this is a short term, partial solution.)
One popular trap is a bottle half buried in the soil with two holes cut in the side, half filled with beer. (Put a stick leading out of the bottle to allow other creatures to escape.) Slugs/snails will enter, get drunk and drown.
You can also pick these off your plants and out of your garden by hand.
Any moist damp places will be hiding places for slugs and snails. Look in these spots and you will see congregations and be able to establish the scale of the problem.
Slugs and snails are found in greater numbers after dark. Go to the garden with a flashlight and remove them by hand to keep numbers down.
Removal is not a long term solution, however.
Getting rid of them can create a vacuum that can cause a population boom and make the problem worse in the long term. In the short term, you can also try to create physical barriers to keep slugs off your tomato plants.
12. Spider Mites
These tiny arachnids can infest and damage a range of crops, including tomatoes.
Spider mites are most common in cooler temperate climates when plants are in a greenhouse or indoors, but are widespread outdoors in dryer, hotter zones.
Mites live in colonies, usually on the underside of leaves.
They feed by piercing leaf tissue and drinking the fluids from the plant. At first, you may only see light dots.
As feeding continues, and in severe infestations, the leaves can turn yellow and drop off. Keep a look out for tight webs that are formed under leaves and along stems.
Remove and dispose of any infested material quickly, far away from composting and growing areas. Reduce the risk of infestation by keeping plants well-watered and free from stress.
Biological controls are also available to deal with certain spider mites.
13. Stalk Borer
The stalk borer is a caterpillar that can attack tomato plants in parts of the US.
It bores into the stems of tomato plants (and other plant hosts) and can often cause them to wilt and die. The entrance hole is small and often difficult to find.
The adult is an inconspicuous gray-brown moth.
The caterpillar is easier to identify. It is purple and cream striped, with a solid purple band around its body around 1/3 of the way back from its head.
Cut down and remove any plants that have died. This may also kill the caterpillar that has infested the plants.
Good weed control, especially the removal of tall, weedy grasses can also help to control the pest.
Stinkbugs do minimal damage to tomato leaves and stems. But they can carry viruses that can infect your plants.
They can also feed on immature fruits and cause them to drop, or cause scars or damage to mature tomato fruits.
Hand pick these bugs off your plants.
Be sure to look closely underneath leaves and among the fruits.
Encourage the stink bugs natural predators, such as birds, spiders and other insects, to keep numbers of these pests within controllable levels.
You can also plant millet, buckwheat, sorghum, sunflowers, marigolds, garlic, lavender, and chrysanthemums.
These are all said to be good trap crops for these pests.
You can also create a barrier to these bugs on your tomato plants by spraying them with a water and kaolin clay solution.
15. Tarnished Plant Bugs
The tarnished plant bug, Lygus lineolaris, is a species of plant-feeding insect that can be a pest of tomato plants. It is found across North America but is more common on the eastern side of the US.
These bugs suck juices from shoots, leaves, flower buds, and fruits. They can leave black spots, and carry and spread disease.
They can also cause catfacing on tomato fruits and can leave cloudy spots on fruit. You can spray with a kaolin clay solution to deter them from laying eggs and feeding on your plants.
Encourage predators to keep their population in check. Tarnished plant bug predators include big-eyed bugs, damsel bugs, and pirate bugs.
Remove any weeds that tarnished plant bugs feed on from your tomato growing beds.
Dandelion, chickweed, lamb’s quarters, smartweed, wild mustard, curly doc, and pigweed are all examples of potential hosts that could make an infestation more likely.
Thrips are tiny insects that are fairly difficult to see, so infestations can easily get out of control before you notice them.
Telltale signs of a thrips attack include dry or brown spotted leaves, fallen leaves, and blotchy blossoms.
Thrips can be carriers for spotted wilt virus, so while they themselves are unlikely to kill your plants, they could carry diseases that might.
Look out for infestations and remove infested material as quickly as possible.
Attract beneficial, predatory insects like ladybugs through planting, and encourage insect eating birds to your garden to keep thrips populations in check.
For severe infestations, consider organic soap based sprays.
17. Tomato Fruitworms
Tomato fruitworms are the larvae of moths that lay their eggs on tomato plants. Tiny worms make their way into the tomatoes, and destroy the fruits from the inside.
You may not always notice this problem right away, as the fruits often look fine from the outside.
Remain vigilant and pick and destroy fruitworm eggs and larvae as you find them. The fruitworm eggs are white when first laid, then turn brown before the larvae hatch.
Dealing with eggs is easier than dealing with larvae once they emerge.
But if larvae are on your plants, you may decide to introduce or encourage predators to tackle the problem.
Predators for tomato fruitworms include minute pirate bugs, bigeyed bugs, the parasite trichogramma and Hyposoter exiguae wasps.
18. Tortoise Beetles
Several species of tortoise beetles feed on the undersides of tomato plant foliage in North America. They can leave leaves speckled with small, round holes.
While the damage is usually slight, large populations can cause pretty bad damage, and may even cause seedlings to fail to thrive.
Pick off the beetles by hand where they are causing a problem. However, since the damage is usually only cosmetic, control is not usually required.
Bear in mind that tortoise beetles can actually be beneficial insects because they feed on nasty, hard-to-eliminate weeds, such as horsenettle (Solanum carolinense), musk thistle (Carduus nutans) and field bindweed.
So pick the beetles off your tomato plants and place them on unwanted weeds instead.
Whiteflies are tiny insects closely related to aphids.
They can be found in almost any region and commonly feed on the underside of plant leaves.
Whiteflies are commonly found on tomatoes, especially when they are grown indoors or in greenhouses.
Nymphs and adults both damage plants by sucking juices, causing stunted growth, leaf yellowing and reduced yields.
Whiteflies can spread diseases and make plants more susceptible to other problems. So it is important to nip infestations in the bud before they become too bad.
Attract predatory insects to keep their numbers down. And consider other measures as described for aphids (above).
Wireworms are the larval stage of click beetles.
They are a common pest in the UK, across the United States and elsewhere. Wireworms attack germinating seeds and roots and can affect tomatoes, as they can a wide range of other garden crops.
They usually attack young tomato plant roots, and burrow up the stem to eat that as well.
You may even see them on top of the soil surface eating out of the main stem near the base.
Wireworms can be common where a new vegetable patch has been created on a previously undisturbed area covered with lawn. Exposing the soil to natural predators such as birds before planting can help reduce incidence of any problems.
You can also use a potato as a wireworm trap. Cut the potato in half and run a stick through the middle. Bury it with the stick protruding from the soil, around an inch underground.
After a couple of days, pull out the trap and dispose of any wireworms it has attracted.
Make sure you have good crop rotation practices, and do whatever you can to attract birds that eat wireworms to your garden.
Reading a list of common pests can make gardening seem rather a daunting task.
But generally speaking, tomato growing is relatively hassle free. Pests are usually easily managed as long as you strive to keep the balance in your garden ecosystem, and keep plants as healthy as possible.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer, permaculture designer and green living consultant. She is a practical, hands-on gardener, with a background in philosophy: (an MA in English-Philosophy from St Andrews University). She has long had an interest in ecology, gardening and sustainability and is fascinated by how thought can generate action, and ideas can generate positive change.
In 2014, she and her husband moved to their forever home in the country. She graduated from allotment gardening to organically managing 1/3 of an acre of land, including a mature fruit orchard,which she has turned into a productive forest garden. The yield from the garden is increasing year on year – rapidly approaching an annual weight in produce of almost 1 ton.
She has filled the rest of the garden with a polytunnel, a vegetable patch, a herb garden, a wildlife pond, woodland areas and more. Since moving to the property she has also rescued many chickens from factory farms, keeping them for their eggs, and moved much closer to self-sufficiency. She has made many strides in attracting local wildlife and increasing biodiversity on the site.
When she is not gardening, Elizabeth spends a lot of time working remotely on permaculture garden projects around the world. Amongst other things, she has designed private gardens in regions as diverse as Canada, Minnesota, Texas, the Arizona/California desert, and the Dominican Republic, commercial aquaponics schemes, food forests and community gardens in a wide range of global locations.
In addition to designing gardens, Elizabeth also works in a consultancy capacity, offering ongoing support and training for gardeners and growers around the globe. She has created booklets and aided in the design of Food Kits to help gardeners to cool and warm climates to grow their own food, for example. She is undertaking ongoing work for NGO Somalia Dryland Solutions and a number of other non governmental organisations, and works as an environmental consultant for several sustainable companies.
Pests & Diseases affecting tomatoes
One of the most challenging of home vegetables to grow is arguably the venerable tomato, but when it’s grown well, it is certainly one of the most rewarding and satisfying of garden fruits. The key to great home-grown tomatoes is good soil health, consistent moisture and nutrition, which ensures healthy plants that are able to better withstand pest and disease pressures as they occur.
Good soil health starts with incorporation of 5IN1 Organic Fertiliser before planting. This will help plants to establish strongly. Once they start to flower, apply fortnightly liquid feeds of Searles Flourish Vegie & Tomato Liquid Fertiliser to encourage more flowers and subsequently more fruit. Ensure adequate moisture for your tomatoes at all stages of growth by consistently irrigating and reducing evaporation with a quality organic mulch.
It’s a known fact that tomatoes are one of the most difficult plants on which to diagnose diseases, so the following is purely a guide for home gardeners to help recognise when diseases occur.
Tomato Wilts | Bacterial, Verticillium, Fusarium
Characterised by wilting, yellowing (not for bacterial) and death of lower leaves, especially during hot weather. Watering doesn’t relieve the symptoms. Whole plants can die very quickly. Best to remove and destroy infected plants.
Tomato Viruses | Mosaic, Leaf curl
Symptoms include stunting and distortion of foliage, mottling and streaking of stems and leaves. Spread in many ways, including sap-sucking insects, garden tools, hands, implements, even old trellises. At the first signs of symptoms, remove and destroy plants.
Moulds, mildews on tomatoes
Signs may be white or greyish furry growths on leaves and fruit. Remove infected parts, treat with Searles Lime Sulphur.
Tomato Blights, Leaf Spots & Specks
Leaves may develop irregular or circular spots with features and colours ranging from greyish-brown, brown with a yellow halo, concentric rings, and brown with light grey centres. Stems may develop darkish lesions and patches. Treatment should include removal of as much infected material as possible, then spray with Searles Copper Oxychloride for control.
A common tomato problem is blossom-end rot. This appears at the ‘blossom end’ of the fruit - the opposite end to the stem. Initially, this part of the fruit becomes off-white to brown in colour and takes on a ‘sunken in’ appearance. As the fruit matures, these symptoms become more pronounced and the rot darkens in colour.
Blossom end rot is caused by insufficient calcium and the most common cause is irregular or insufficient water during the critical growing period of the young fruit. Even when sufficient calcium is present in the soil, water shortages can create difficulty absorbing and delivering calcium to the fruit.
Fruit Fly (Garden Enemy No. 1)
Signs of this pest are discoloured spots and rots developing around the skin area. Eggs hatch into maggots that destroy the soft interior of the fruit.
There are no preventative or systemic sprays for tomatoes, so careful monitoring is required (Searles Fruit Fly wick) from around spring (when the weather warms) to autumn and even winter if temperatures stay high. Searles Fruit Fly Trap will attract, trap and kill male fruit flies only, so use these together with fruit fly exclusion bags/netting for best results.
The larvae of the potato moth and two budworm species can cause serious damage to tomatoes, by tunnelling into leaves and stems, reducing growth and subsequent flowering and fruiting. Usually by the time damage is seen, the larvae have entered the plants and there are no systemic insecticides that can help. If you see the larvae on the outside of the plant, then Searles Bug Beater Natural Pyrethrum spray is a great low toxicity control.
Whitefly and aphids on tomatoes
Whitefly congregate on the underside of tomato leaves, fly away when disturbed, and return quickly to continue feeding. Aphids generally gather at the soft growing tips of tomato plants and can explode in numbers if not controlled. For large infestations of both, Searles Bug Beater Natural Pyrethrum spray is effective when sprayed on the upper and lower surfaces of leaves.
Most vegie garden soils will have adequate available calcium, however the problem usually occurs due to inconsistent irrigation practices. Mulch, use organic fertilisers and Searles Penetraide in sandy or loamy soils, and increase irrigation during fruiting and warm periods. Ensure your soil’s pH is around 6.5 to 7.
Tomato russet mites are tiny sap-suckers that can become a problem in warm, dry weather. They can’t be seen with the naked eye, but symptoms include withering of lower foliage, stems displaying a bronze colour, and leathery skins on fruit. Spray Searles Wettable Sulphur on all leaf surfaces for control.
Article author: Born and bred in Toowoomba, Mike Wells has turned a lifelong passion for plants and gardening into a career as a TAFE horticultural educator for the last 18 years. This passion for all things horticulture has also seen him contribute a widely-read weekly gardening article in the Toowoomba Chronicle since 2013.
Mike is in demand as a speaker for regional gardening clubs and interest groups and loves to help solve gardeners’ problems on ABC Southern Qld every second Saturday morning at 9am. He also operates a horticultural consultancy, Wellsley Horticulture, specialising in plant selection, soil improvement, efficient irrigation and garden design.