Tomato Fusarium Wilt: How To Control Fusarium Wilt On Tomato Plants

By: Mary Ellen Ellis

Tomato fusarium wilt can be very destructive to home gardens. With severe infections you can lose a lot of tomato yield. With no way to treat fusarium wilt, prevention is the best medicine.

What is Tomato Fusarium Wilt?

Tomato plants can be susceptible to a few types of wilt, but fusarium wilt is fairly common among them. It is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum. The fungus infects the plants through the rootlets and is not spread through the above-ground portions of plants.

Fusarium survives for a long time in the soil and overwinters there. The disease can be spread this way from year to year. It can also be spread through infected transplants, seeds, and tools carrying soil with the fungus in it.

Symptoms of Tomato Plants with Fusarium Wilt

A characteristic first sign of fusarium wilt is yellowing of lower leaves or leaves on one stem only. After yellowing, stems and leaves begin to wilt. These signs first appear as the fruit starts maturing.

Scraping or splitting a stem on a tomato plant affected by fusarium wilt, you will see brown vascular tissue with healthy inner tissue.

Other tomato wilt diseases cause similar symptoms but are either more uniform throughout the tomato plant or begin from top to bottom, whereas fusarium wilt yellowing begins at the bottom of the plant and may be patchy.

Preventing Fusarium Wilt on Tomatoes

Treating fusarium wilt of tomatoes is not possible. Affected branches or entire plants can only be destroyed, as they will die eventually. Prevention is the only way to avoid the damage of fusarium wilt in your tomato garden. Start with varieties that resist the disease.

Also, avoid planting tomatoes in the same spot year after year. The fungus persists in the soil for a long time.

Make sure that the soil drains well where you plant tomatoes to deter fungal growth. Use raised beds, if necessary. If you have had issues with fusarium wilt in the past, or if you just grow a lot of tomatoes, practice good garden tool hygiene, sanitizing them between jobs.

It also helps to keep plants healthy and thriving, and especially free of root knot nematode infestations, so that they can resist any disease present in the soil.

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Fusarium Wilt, Blight, And Rot: Treatment & Control

Anyone who’s been gardening for a while is familiar with the dreaded fusarium wilt. Also called damping off, this fungal disease causes newly-sprouted seedling stems to collapse. It’s frustrating, but it’s certainly not unknown.

But did you know that fusarium itself is a widespread genus of multiple species which can also cause a number of blights and rots? In fact, fusarium species create a number of dangers for not just your plants, but even directly for you.

Let’s go over some information on what fusarium is and learn about how and what it does. Then, we’ll go into ways to prevent against it and newly-developing information on how to fight back!

Listen to this post on the Epic Gardening Podcast

Products To Protect Against Fusarium Wilt, Blight, or Rot:

Watering Tomato Plants to Prevent Wilting

Tomato plants wilt when they don't receive enough water, but they can also wilt due to overwatering. The plants wilt when their stems and leaves lack water. So when the weather is hot and sunny, for example, tomato plants can temporarily wilt because the leaves and stems are losing water faster than the plant can replenish it. Often, the plants revive in the evening, and they probably don't need extra water. If they remain wilted when the sun's gone down, they could need more water. On the other hand, if they regularly receive plenty of water, they could have been overwatered. Too much water drowns the roots, and they can't absorb water from the soil so the plants wilt.

A rough guide to watering tomato plants is to supply 1 inch of water per week. Plants growing in sandy soil often need more water, and plants usually need water more when the weather is hot, sunny or windy. If you're overwatering your tomato plants, you might see puddles after watering that don't drain for half an hour or longer wet, muddy soil cracked fruit and bumps or blisters on the leaves. Don't despair. Overwatered plants can recover. Stop watering the plants immediately and only supply water when the ground around them plants is dry at a depth of 2 inches.

How do you prevent the fungus from infecting plants?

  • Rotate crops. The fusarium fungus can survive indefinitely in the soil. Plant tomatoes no more than once every four years in the same spot. Avoid planting other Solanaceous crops (potato, pepper, and eggplant) in the same area, too – they are susceptible to the fungus.
  • Choose disease-resistant tomato varieties. An “F” listed after the variety name on its label indicates its resistance to one or more strains of the fungus.
  • Plant tomatoes in well-drained soil.
  • Remove and destroy affected plants at the end of the season.


So as it turns out, there isn’t a single magical seed variety that will resist all sorts of diseases. You will need to consider your climate and the kind of diseases that are most prevalent in the region. These are the ones you will need to avoid.

Once you’ve found the most disease resistant tomato for your garden, take all the preventive measures. That’s all that it takes to harvest baskets of juicy, bright disease-free tomatoes at the end of the season!

Watch the video: Learn how I handle Tomato Fungi and Spot Wilt Virus in my garden

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