This is a Great White plant, planted about 30 days ago. It has yellowing leaves with black spots, all tge leaves are drooping, and there are very few flower buds. I'm afraid I might need to dispose of the whole plant. I planted this about a month ago in tilled soil with compost and bagged manure mixed in, along with a spadeful of organic poultry poop fertilizer, and added another half-spadeful a couple weeks ago. It was doing ok until about a week ago. The leaves are droopy and starting to yellow and get some black spots. Yesterday I found a 3" long tomato hornworm on it which I plucked off. I mulched around the tomato plants with newspaper and straw to deal with a carpet of weeds that had been popping up. Now the soil around the plant seems pretty wet. So, what's going on with this plant? Did the hornworm do all this damage? Did the mulching trap in too much water and make the soil soggy? Is the problem reversible? I have 2 other tomato plants that are doing ok, but without many fruits. I checked all the tomato and pepper plants and plucked off a few more hornworms. Oh yeah, also I put that stake in about a week ago. Could that have pierced and damaged the roots? Dieing Great White tomato plant

UPDATE: Ok as someone requested I'm adding more pictures. I have mulched with straw, and it's pulled away from the base of this plant because I was worried it was keeping the soil too soggy. Also I added a scoop of fertilizer, but that was after this yellowing happened. The plant is about 20-30 inches away from each of the other 2 tomato plants (different varieties). Also, the other two seem to have decent vegetative growth and very few fruits.

It looks like the plant is pretty far gone now. Should I call it quits before that fungus spreads to the other 2?

  • Is this the same? gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/18039/…
    – Patrick B.
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 9:31
  • 1
    Could you adapt your question to add more details of what happens? We can see it on the picture, but search engine-crawlers can't (yet). Mentioning black spots and yellowing leaves would be good. Thanks and welcome to the site.
    – Patrick B.
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 9:33
  • No the stake would not have done any damage...are all three tomatoes the same species? Stop fertilizing for sure. The one wimpy guy looks like too much water. Might not make it...keep looking for yellow flowers. If your plants do not produce flowers you have used too much nitrogen. Might have to pull the wimpy plant but tomatoes are tough and snap back quite well. Stop fertilizing...especially with the chicken shit. Great for your soil but not for growing vegetables. Next year will be spectacular as long as you know YOU are responsible for their needs.
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 20:19
  • They are 3 different species. The failing one is Great White. The others are Green Zebra and Black From Tula. What can I do to offset the nitrogen? See my link below for the fertilizer I'm using. I think that's not the problem. I'm guessing its the cow manure from Home Depot I put in the soil initially.
    – Michael T
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 22:13

3 Answers 3


Looks like septoria leaf spot. The lower leaves usually get it first from the soil splashing up on the leaves, and humidity can play a big part in the spread.

You should use mulch. I've had great results with organic paper mulch that I got on amazon. Make sure to trim the lower leaves once the plants are established to prevent them from touching the soil. The top of the soil should also dry out before waterings and you should only water first thing in the morning.

You can also use some fungicide spray for prevention every 7 - 10 days. It wont cure it, but it will prevent it from spreading further. I use Southern AG Liquid Copper Fungicide, although I have yet to comment in its effectiveness - http://southernag.com/residential-products/liquid-copper-fungicide/

  • I don't use any chemicals. I will use some organic fertilizer but that's about as far as I will go. I did use a dish soap/vinegar mix to kill ornamental grass. But I don't believe in using herbicides/pesticides/fungicides.
    – Michael T
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 1:56
  • @MichaelT, here's an organic option. I haven't tried it, but am interested. I really think mulching is the best option as it stops the soil from splashing up in heavy rain. I had spots last year, but none this year so far with the mulch.
    – jedi jay
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 18:11

Septoria leaf spot is characterized by dark brown margins and tan to gray centers. I don't see light centers in the spots on your picture.

Septoria leaf spot usually appears on the lower leaves after the first fruit sets. Spots are circular, about one-sixteenth to one-fourth inch in diameter with dark brown margins and tan to gray centers with small black fruiting structures. Characteristically, there are many spots per leaf; they do not look target-like. This disease spreads upwards from oldest to youngest growth. If leaf lesions are numerous, the leaves turn slightly yellow, then brown, and then wither. Fruit infection is rare.

Lookalikes: bacterial leaf spot and speck (no tan centers); and other diseases that progress from the bottom up.

General treatment for bacterial spots, blights and rots include: Removing infected leaves, putting down fresh mulch & avoiding overhead watering. More information here.


Those spots are no big deal. A fungus that is splashed up on the leaf and the plants itself is getting rid of the fungus with this 'shot hole' approach. Very normal. I think you might have over done the organic, non-decomposed manure. Too much nitrogen which promotes too much vegetative growth and will definitely reduce the reproductive growth or...flowers and fruit.

You HAVE to allow the soil to dry out a bit before rewatering!! The compost you've installed in your soil might have been full of spores/bacteria not very great for tomatoes. Gotta have drainage...

Please add a few more pictures of soil, your entire tomato crop (to see ventilation) and tell us what you are doing for fertilizer, mulch and watering. Tomatoes are such a rewarding crop but there are some vital things you need to know.

  • Ok I added some pics. There are 3 tomato plants. I've been adding some poultry litter based fertilizer every few weeks (about a spadeful). The mulch is straw. Watering I just spray everything with the hose every few days. It's been rainy this summer so on days with rain I don't water.
    – Michael T
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 1:58
  • Two of your plants look very healthy and the one looks a bit whimpy. Poultry litter fertilizer is high in nitrogen versus Potassium and Phosphorus. Great for lots of tomato leaves but you won't get many tomatoes. Same with most vegetable plants except salad greens...Michael, to completely write off using pesticides without understanding the chemicals necessary for plant health/growth is not a good thing. Fertilizers are NOT pesticides/herbicides for one thing. Us humans come in and completely wipe out an ecosystem...then we have to be in charge of plant's needs.
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 19:23
  • Spraying water on everything is not watering! You want to SOAK THE SOIL down 4-6 inches at this stage and allow to dry out. Spraying water causes spores in the soil to be splashed up onto the leaves. Shot hole fungi will NOT kill your plants and will not spread as the plant causes the SPOTS of fungus on the leaf to die and drop out...your plants are taking care of themselves with the spots/fungus. But later this season there might be spores of 'late blight' which will decimate the entire plant within 3 days once ONE drop of this fungus innocuates the leaves! Fruit as well!
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 19:29
  • The fertlizer I've been using is a combination of poultry poop with some other stuff like kelp and phosphorus. Here's a description: canterburycreekgardens.com/136-2. I think its meant to be balanced.
    – Michael T
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 22:08
  • Looks like decent fertilizer, what are the PERCENTAGES stated on the package? You said you used cow manure at the beginning that would probably be the extra nitrogen. Please send a more recent picture, might tell me lots more. Are you allowing the soil to dry out between waterings? Your plants are planted with plenty of room, don't worry. You said you used vinegar to eradicate weeds? Vinegar might have lowered the pH of your soil where these plants are having trouble taking up nutrients!! Is there anyway you can test your soil for pH???
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 0:07

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