Yellow leaves on tomato plants - Get rid of yellow tomato leaves and find out their causes

Yellow leaves on tomato plants

Yellow leaves on tomato plants occur naturally as well as due to various other issues. The yellow tomato leaves could either be due to silly reasons like overwatering or may be due to deficiencies or in severe circumstances pest attacks. Tomato plant leaves turning yellow can really frighten us gardeners - because, after all our hard work we never want to see our precious tomato plants dying.

It’s not always necessary that plant defects are caused by pests or plant diseases more often it is due to the lack of a nutrient or even excess of it. When I say nutrient it even includes water in this case. The wrong proportion of nutrients may lead to foliage decolourisation or even distortion of the leaves. So finding the exact cause of your yellow tomato leaves is a challenging task. But once done right you can reap red juicy tomatoes year after year because you'll never make the same mistakes again for the coming years tomato crop.

It's not just the leaves that turn yellow due to deficiencies, you'll notice that the tomatoes too are yellowish.
It's not just the leaves that turn yellow due to deficiencies, you'll notice that the tomatoes too are yellowish.

Causes for yellow leaves on tomato plants

There are various causes of yellow leaves on tomato plants; they’re explained in detail below. Be sure to check them all out before you’re off to fix the problem. Because, very often there can be multiple causes to yellow tomato leaves. You’ll want to know them all before you try fixing them.

Causes for yellow leaves on tomatoes -

  • Moisture content - One of the main causes is improper watering. Tomato plants need perfect soil moisture levels. The soil shouldn’t be too damp not too dry it should be just perfect – More like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. You should check your soil moisture every now and then keeping it under control. Depending on your local weather conditions you’ll need to water the tomato plants. Some places you’ll need to water them multiple times a day whereas in other places just a few times a week. Yellow leaves on tomato plants can be prevented if you optimize the level of water that you provide your tomato plants.
  • Quality of soil – For now let’s forget about the nutrients in your soil. We’re worried about the soil texture. Is your soil well maintained? I mean is it loose enough so that your tomato plants can spread their roots properly? If this is the problem try loosening the soil around your tomato plants it may just be the cause behind your tomato plant leaves turning yellow.
  • Fungal or bacterial attack – Another cause of yellow leaves on tomatoes could be fungal and bacterial attacks. There are various types of Fungal or bacterial attacks and they’ll need to be diagnosed by specialists – contact your garden center in this case. This will help you in the future because a problem once solved will let you grow tasty tomatoes annually from then on without worrying about your plant suffering.
  • Tomato pests – Very often yellow leaves on tomatoes may mean an invasion. Not an alien invasion but an invasion by worms and caterpillars. You need to thoroughly inspect your tomato plants for caterpillars and worms because they are camouflaged so well that they look like tomato leaves or stems thereby escaping unnoticed only to wreck more havoc. You could easily take care of this problem on your own with the help of various types of pesticides – organic pesticides preferably.

Macro and Micronutrient deficiencies - Yellow leaves on tomato plants could be caused due to the deficiency of nutrients in your gardens soil or the incapability of your tomato plants in absorbing the nutrients. You need to know how to exactly fertilize your tomato plants in order to receive a bountiful crop.

Macronutrients – Macronutrients are the nutrients needed by your tomato plants in large amounts for their growth and proper functioning. They include Nitrogen. Calcium, Sulphur, Magnesium, Potassium and of course Phosphorus.

Micronutrients – Micronutrients are as important as Macronutrients but the quantity required is much less compared to Macronutrients. Micronutrients include everything right from Copper, Manganese, Iron as well as Zinc.

Yellow tomato leaves due to nutrition deficiency

Yellow tomato leaves are often caused due to nutrition deficiency. They can easily be prevented if you ensure the right nutrients in your garden soil.

Yellow leaves on tomatoes due to lack of absorption:
Tomato plants can absorb nutrients only through their roots. If this is prevented for any reason whatsoever then your tomato plants are going to lack key nutrients. Water is the medium through which tomato plants absorb nutrients from the soil. Therefore, you need to ensure the presence of sufficient water – not excess; problems related to excess water have already been discussed.
Is your soil pH acidic or alkaline? Tomato plants are very timid and need the right pH range for successful absorption of nutrients. So don’t add excess of fertilizers to your garden. Excess fertilizers lead to high pH. But for the proper growth of your tomato plants you’ll need to add a little fertilizer.

  • Lack of Nitrogen: -

Yellow leaves on tomato plants can be caused do to the lack of Nitrogen. Due to the deficiency of Nitrogen the older leaves at the bottom usually turn yellow whereas the upper new leaves remain bright green as though there’s no problem at all. However, you’ll notice that the overall growth rate drops and your tomato plants will be shunted. You could add urea or ammonium to the soil or any other form of manure.

  • Deficiency of Potassium: -

· Yellow leaves on tomatoes can be caused due to the lack of Potassium as well. The leaf as a whole doesn’t turn yellow; the area between veins turns yellowish and the leaves may wilt. You could add potash to your soil in case this is the cause.

  • Calcium deficiency: -

A deficiency of calcium could be the cause of your tomato plant leaves turning yellow. The growing tips of the tomato plant may turn yellow and die within a few days. This is known as blossom end rot. Adding any compound containing calcium will work wonders.

  • Lack of Magnesium: -

Yellow tomato leaves could very well be caused because your garden soil is poor in Magnesium. This will result in stunted growth and the outer edges of your tomato leaves may end up becoming pale and yellow. Epson salts are a good source of Magnesium to your soil.

  • Sulphur deficiency: -

· The new leaves are yellow and the older foliage remains fresh and green. The tomato plant suffers from stunted growth.

  • Zinc deficiency: -

Deficiency of Zinc is a big cause of yellow tomato leaves. Lack of Zinc leads to the area between veins turning yellow especially in the new leaves. This often leads to a bunch of small leaves at the top (a rosette)

Growing Tomatoes - Guides and tips

Check out some of the articles I've written on growing tomatoes as well as caring for them once they've begun growing.

How to plant a tomato plant in your garden or a container

Tomato Seedlings - Growing, Nurturing and Caring for Tomato Seedlings

Yellow leaves on tomato plants - what should I do?

Yellow leaves on tomato plants – Not always a cause of worry

If you observe any plant eventually all the older leaves wilt and die. Similarly your tomato plant will also have yellow leaves at the bottom. Also it could be due to the lack of sunshine due to shading by the higher leaves. As long as the plant continues to grow healthily and produce fruits you need not worry about yellow tomato leaves.

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Have your say 13 comments

stephaniedas profile image

stephaniedas 5 years ago from Miami, US

Do you think that these tips apply to a lot of other plants, too? I had problems with my basil turning yellow this summer.

lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Yes the same tips apply to others as well. I don't know about the extra water but the nutrient deficiencies etc. applies to all plants.

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

I checked funny, too. I laughed at my ignorance. I was surprised that people garden tomatoes in India. I should have known from all of the wonderful sauces in your sophisticated menu. If you want to flirt with disaster, grow tomatoes in this part of Florida (nematodes). Sometimes we actually get a crop. It is usually the fall planting that rewards you, but we try in spring anyway. This will surely help.

You are very professional in your presentation and practical application of opportunities. There is hope for the future with young men like you leading the way.

lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Hi WD Curry thanks for the great comment. Nice and motivating :)

Great that you found my style of writing pleasant and useful. I'm just 18 and looking forward to writing lots and lots here on hub pages.

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

I'll be looking forward to reading more of your work and applauding your success.

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

Can you hear me clapping my hands and jumping up and down?

Here is a proverb that applies to you. "Do you see a man who is skilled and diligent in his work? He will stand before kings, and not before obscure men." Go get em' Tiger.

Madurai profile image

Madurai 4 years ago from Online

usually a plant turns yellow due to a lack of nitrogen in the soil. You have provided here great info about the symptoms of yellow leaves. Thanks for sharing..

lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Thanks Madurai for adding this info to the hub. Yes, Nitrogen could be just one of the many causes and you'd need to check all possibilities when determining the cause because, you wouldn't know if the yellow leaves were caused due to an infection or pest.

help me 4 years ago

My tomato plants turned all yellow I think because of too much sun and white flies. I trimmed all the leaves off, so will the plant survive? I have one that all it has on it now are two tomatoes, no leaves. Will the leaves grow back or is this plant a looser?

lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Too much sun won't be the cause of yellow tomato leaves. However, the white flies could potentially be a cause. Are your plants receiving enough water? Do you add fertilizers? I've written articles about these steps too. You'd find links to them on this article itself.

Yes, your tomato plant stands a chance; but, the chances are slim; make sure to take care of it until it recovers and gets new leaves. If you think the sun is an issue try using a sort of shelter over the plant - at least till it recovers.

Sharon 2 years ago

Epson salt, too much,killed most of the new tomato plants. Hubby put 2heaping tablespoons per plant when planting! Had to re-plant nearly all the plants as they just died. Do not recommend epson salts???

lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 2 years ago Author

Hi Sharon, I've never tried epson salts as I use organic compost made at home itself. Why don't you try it out (in a smaller amount) on 2 - 3 tomato plants and check out the progress in their growth

Laura 4 months ago

You do best by adding epson in watering .

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