Why Are My Tomato Seedlings Wilting or Dying?

Tomato seedlings appear after few weeks of sowing its seeds. It is fascinating to see these little heads coming out of the growing soil.

But, your joy didn’t stay longer, tomato seedlings wilting or drooping.

Though tomato plants are resilient in some cases it shows the sign of stress.

A simple answer for those who’re wondering, why tomato seedlings are wilting?

Wilting or drooping can be caused due to water stress (overwatering or underwatering), environmental stress or bacterial or fungal infestation.

If left unnoticed, the infestation will spread to other parts of the tomato plant and eventually tomato seedling will die.

Should I cut off wilted tomato leaves to save tomato plant?

Pruning can stop the spread of diseases, but if the cause of wilting is underwatering, then cutting off wilting leaves won’t help.

Tomato seeds that are not healthy can easily wilt and do not germinate to become fully grown plant.

So, it is important that you chose the best tomato variety and seed in your vegetable garden.

Why are My Tomato Seedlings Wilting?

Tomato seedlings that are transplanted might go through transplantation shock; that is, they could not adapt to the new soil and conditions they are planted in.

Sudden change of environment for the delicate seeds becomes fatal.

When the seedlings are affected by fungi and bacteria, they catch the damping-off disease. This disease of the plants or saplings does not let the seed grow and prosper.

Seedlings which do not stand straight in the garden could be victims of a gas leak. These might stop the growth of some seedlings completely and also might decrease their chances of giving fruit.

Fungi like Pythium spp and Rhizoctonia are the causes of such damping conditions of the tomato seedlings.

The part of the seedling which is above the soil appears to have spots and is soggy; then, you will know the seedling is affected by fungal activities.

With overhead watering, the bacterial action on the plant increases, causing the seed to wilt.

These seedlings, when taken proper care of, can be cured of these very common diseases.

There are several ways to prevent these plant diseases as well. In this article, we will know about some of the ways to prevent your tomato seedling from wilting.

Also Read: How Long After Flowering Do Tomatoes Appear?

Let’s list the ways to prevent the tomato seedling wilting

  • Tomato seedlings should be watered in the right way
  • The humidity of the surroundings have to be controlled
  • The soil must not be rich in nutrients
  • 1 inch of water every week is what tomato seedlings require
  • Proper sunlight and air should be available to all the seedlings
  • Seedlings growing on sandy soil will require more water than the ones growing on comparatively wet soil
  • They will need more water and care on hot days
  • You must not water the tomato seedlings from overhead
  • Avoid transplanting if it is not completely necessary as it can rupture the roots and cause wilting
  • Keep tomato seedling away from your walnut trees; they are the reason for tomatoes to wilt

Also Read: How to Speed up Tomato Ripening on the Vine?

What Causes Tomato Plant Wilting or Drooping?

When gardeners don’t provide enough water to plant, leaves start drooping.

If you can regulate watering frequency, then your tomato plant can easily recover from wilting.

Many gardeners and plant lovers cannot find the reason why tomato seedlings wilt and die so easily.

Main causes for the death of tomato seedlings are the lack of water or excess of water, stalk borers, tomato spotted wilt virus, vascular wilts, walnut toxicity, and other causes which are not very commonly seen.

Affected parts of tomato plant turn yellow; if you can identify the part and eliminate it from the rest of the plant, the full plant does not wilt.

Water Stress

Tomato plant needs moist soil to thrive.

Every plant shows wilting and drooping signs when not provided enough water.

If you see the soil around the plant is dry and leaves are drooping, then water tomato plant generously. Allow it to revive under full sunlight.

Similarly, when you overwater the plant leaves start to wilt.

Further, leaves will turn yellow and results in root rot.

So, you must avoid both overwatering and underwatering your tomato plant.

Check this out: How Long Can a Tomato Plant Go Without Water?

Environmental Stress

Most plants don’t survive in frost.

If you leaves your tomato plant outdoors under low temperature, eventually leaves start to wilt and plant will die.

Apart from this, black walnut doesn’t allow tomato plants to grow. So, avoid planting beside walnut tree.

If you notice no sign of water stress or environmental stress on tomato seedlings or plant, then check leaves for possible fungal infection.

A Fungal Attack Causes Wilting

The tomato seedlings which are not healthy can be discarded or repaired according to the level of harm endured by the seedling.

These seedlings are very weak and delicate and require your full attention and care. If the seedling is attacked by fungi, there is a way out of it.

You can use antifungal solutions to spray on the lower parts of the plant or the soil.

Cut off the affected part of the plant so that the disease does not spread to the entire seedling.

The antifungal sprays could be chamomile tea after letting it cool.

Or you could also take boiling water and some chamomile flowers, let the water cool, and then spray it on the stems of the seedlings.

Vascular Wilts Cause the Tomato Seedlings to Wilt and Die

The Verticillium and Fusarium wilts are seen when the leaves of the plant wilt or dry during the hot summer days.

During hot summer days, these small seedlings need more water to keep them hydrated.

However, leaves tend to recover in the evening when the temperature cools down with the absence of the sun.

With the wilting taking place, many daily plants cannot endure the harsh humidity and die after some days. They need proper sunlight for the process of photosynthesis.

Verticillium and Fusarium wilts are soil-borne fungi that cause fungal disease to the plant by entering into the plant through injured roots.

The fungi spread easily through the xylem tissues in the stem and block the flow of the water through the stem to the rest of the plant.

Thus, resulting in the death of tomato seedlings, a brown discoloration of the vascular tissues is seen in the dead parts of the plant.

Also Read: How Can You Grow Tomatoes from Fresh Tomatoes?

Wilting of Tomato Seedlings Due to Fungal Attack

The fungal attack is very obvious on the young and unsteady plants, things you can do to prevent it if you can sow the seed and cover it with a sterile container.

The container will keep the fungi away and help the seedling to grow in face conditions.

Another antifungal element is cinnamon which acts as an antifungal agent. You can just sprinkle some cinnamon powder over the tomato seedling.

These are ways in which your tomato seedling can be safe and grow to become a healthy plant.

Tomato seedlings grow together and form a crowded cluster soon after they emerge from the seed.

To maintain the good health of the seeds, you can transplant some of the healthy-looking seeds from the crowded pot to another one where they will get good air circulation.

Why Are Tomato Seedlings Wilting?

Tomato seedlings may die due to many reasons. These plants get diseased very easily.

During high humidity or warm temperatures, black lesions start to grow on the plant, increasing to form a bull’s eye. These effects spoil the necrotic tissues of the tomato seedlings ruining their stems and eventually the full sapling.

This disease of tomato seedlings is called Early Blight. This phenomenon can be prevented by controlling humidity. The tomato resistant varieties that perform well are Celebrity, Jetstar, Burpee VF, and some others.

Also Read: White Lines on Tomato Leaves

Damping-off of tomato seedlings

Damping-off is a very common occurrence that affects the seeds in wet soil. When the soil is rich in nutrients or stores a lot of water, this condition can be seen where tomato seedlings wilt and die.

Feeding pests are responsible for making tomatoes weak and, in the process, wilt. If you see any dark spots on the seed, then you must take action.

Spraying a fungicide and eliminating the affected parts of the plant is the only cure for preventing the seedling from getting fully affected and wilt.

Lack of proper light and air can also be reasons for the wilting of your tomato seedling.

Without proper sunlight, they are not able to perform the process of photosynthesis and thus making the seeds weak and delicate. Proper irrigation and outflow of the water are very important for tomato seedlings.

Overhead watering is very harmful to tomato seeds. You can save a wilting plant only when you know what has affected the plant. After knowing the disease, finding a cure is not very difficult.

Gardening is a difficult task that needs a lot of study and observation as well. You need to know how it is done, or all your efforts will be seen in dead plants.

Thus knowing before getting on the field is very important and helps you to get better results.

Check this out: How Can You Increase Tomato Fruit Size?

Are Stalk Borers Harmful to Tomato Seedlings?

It is a pest that affects plants and seedlings, including tomato seedlings. The larva of caterpillars bores into the stem and makes its way to the stalk of the seed. The plants are affected by this and tend to wilt and die.

Some plants survive even after being damaged by stalk borers. Good care of the plant has to be taken to recover the plant.

The stalk borer is a colored and creamy striped caterpillar with a solid purple band around its body. It is a pest that can be seen early in the season.

It moves from tall weed plants to tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and other vegetable plants. A single stalk borer can damage a lot of tomato plants at once.

Tomato seedlings that are affected should be removed so that the stalk borer does not affect the other plants.

When the plant is destroyed, the stalk borer can also be destroyed to prevent further destruction.

These pests can also be controlled by planting tall weedy plants around vegetable gardens. Stalk borers cannot be controlled by insecticides.

Why are Tomato Seedlings Dying?

Natural gas is another thing that tomato seedlings cannot endure. Tomato seedlings are very sensitive and are attacked by viruses, fungi, and bacteria very easily.

However, you will find many ways to prevent these conditions.

Some of the most common diseases faced by the tomato seedlings are early blight, Fusarium wilt, Damping off, Botrytis, and copper fungicides cause a lot of harm to the seedlings or the young tomato plants.

Ways these diseases can be prevented are by controlling humidity, cleaning up the debris or humus of old plants, and avoiding overhead watering. If you see a part of the plant is cut or wounded, it is prone to bacterial action. It is advised that you cut off that part of the part as soon as possible so that the rest of the seedling is safe.

Tomato Seedlings Wilting After Transplant

Tomato seedlings wilt after they are transplanted from one soil to another. The tomato seedlings are not able to adapt to the soil as they are very delicate. These seedlings need full care and support to grow.

After transplantation, they are not able to take the shock and start to wilt. Transfer from one soil condition to another makes the seedlings wilt. Soil that is too wet or is full of nutrients does not let a tomato seedling grow properly.

Thus before transplantation finding out the soil type and neutralizing it is very important to make the tomato seedling survive. The usage of resistant types is a very effective way for all the gardeners to prevent losses for the wilts.

How to Prevent Wilting of Tomato Seedlings?

Juglone particles in the soil consist of both living and decayed plant materials. Rain droplets leach juglone from the twigs, buds, and leaves.

The decomposition of plant materials, dead plants, and insects releases juglone into the soil, which is not very good for delicate young seedlings.

The highest amount of juglone is found in the dripline of walnut trees. Thus, walnut trees should be kept away from tomato plants.

Nothing can be done to save the juglone damaged tomato plants. All you have to do is rip it off from the stem.

Gardeners who have large walnut trees should not plant tomato seedlings on the same plot; they should look for alternative sites for growing tomato plants.

Tomato plants should be planted 20 to 25 feet away from the dripline of walnut trees to lessen the toxicity released by the walnut trees.

Can wilted tomato plants recover?

You tomato plant seedlings can recover if they aren’t affected seriously. If water stress is causing wilting of tomato seedlings, then you can revive it.

Tomato plants affected by fungal infestation can be recovered; you just need to attack early.

Initially, diagnose the main cause of wilting and accordingly you can revive tomato plant.

Should I cut off wilted tomato leaves?

In case of fungal or bacterial infection, removing wilted tomato leaves may help.

But, if the wilting is due to water or environmental stress, then pruning one leaf can’t help. You must check the underlying cause of wilting and regulate watering frequency if needed.

Check out these articles on growing tomato plants:

Final Words

Tomato seedlings or plants wilt when they are subjected towards water stress, environmental stress or exposed to bacterial infestation.

When you leave wilted tomato seedlings unnoticed, and then eventually they will die.

In this write-up we have discussed the ways in which these diseases can be prevented and how to have a healthy seedling. Diseased tomato seedlings can be cured to have a new seedling.

Now you know a lot about tomato seedlings. You can have a garden of your own with healthy seedlings.

You need not worry about plants dying, or you do not have to consult an experienced person; you know how to deal with plant diseases and how to cure your plants of diseases.

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