Tomato leaf black spot

How can I keep my tomatoes from getting leaf spots?

Fungal leaf spots can be a serious problem in home vegetable gardens, reducing yields and impacting fruit quality. Two common fungal diseases are early blight and Septoria leaf spot. In order to prevent your tomatoes from getting these diseases and to effectively treat them, you must understand the disease cycle of each fungus as well as identify which disease is causing symptoms in order to manage it successfully.


Early blight can damage both tomato foliage and fruit. Leaf spots develop on the older leaves of the plant, towards the bottom, and move upward to new growth as the disease progresses. The spots initially look like irregular circles. As times goes on, concentric rings form around each lesion, giving them a ring pattern with a distinctive yellow halo. Dark, sunken cankers can also develop on the stems and fruit.

Septoria leaf spot also develops first on the older, lower leaves and can cause complete defoliation in a relatively short period of time. Symptoms include many small, circular, dark spots on the leaves that have grayish centers and dark brown margins. The spots may eventually develop yellow halos as the leaves wilt and die.

Septoria leaf spots develop on the older, bottom leaves first. Spots look like dark, irregular circles.


Early blight and Septoria leaf spot overwinter in garden soil and crop debris, and infect plants when growing conditions are right. To prevent these diseases, start by thoroughly removing and discarding crop debris at the end of the season. If possible, rotate where you plant tomatoes and related plants (peppers, eggplants, potatoes) each year. Multiyear rotations help limit infection because susceptible plants are kept away from soil-borne fungi. You should also always use disease-free seeds and transplants, as well as disease resistant cultivars, of which there is a growing number to choose from. While it may be too late for these actions to solve disease problems this year, keep them in mind for future years.

Next, make sure tomatoes are grown in a location with full sun and good airflow, as moist and humid conditions encourage fungal growth. Proper staking and pruning will improve air circulation and reduce disease issues. In concert with this, water in the morning if overhead sprinklers are used to allow leaves time to dry throughout the day. Even better, avoid wetting leaves entirely by using soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Consider mulching the soil beneath your tomatoes to prevent soil (and fungal spores) from splashing onto leaves, stems and fruit. Mulch will also help conserve soil moisture and prevent weed growth.

Removing the bottommost leaves from plants may also help prevent infection, as will the application of appropriate preventative fungicides. When using pesticides, always read and follow the label instructions. If you do notice leaf spots on your tomatoes, removing infected leaves will help decrease the number of spores that can cause new infections.

If you think your tomato plants may have a fungal disease problem, Ask UNH Extension or submit a sample to the UNH Plant Diagnostic Lab.

Top Picture: Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo,
Bottom Picture: Nancy Gregory, University of Delaware,

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Black Spots on Tomatoes

It can be very difficult for an inexperienced gardener to find out the reason behind dark and black spots on tomatoes. This article lists out the probable causes and symptoms that will help you identify the problem correctly and take appropriate measures for the same.

Growing tomatoes is a hobby most gardeners like to develop and maintain. While people are so interested in growing these plants, they must also be aware of several basic things that are very important in their proper growth and maintenance. Even people who take proper care while planting the best healthy plants complaint that there are several problems with them and the health of the tomatoes. The most common problem is the black spots on the tomatoes in the garden.

Understandably, finding dark spots on the tomatoes and leaves in the middle of the growing season can frustrate any gardener. Well, when the damage is already done there is just one most important thing that remains in your hands and that is the perfect planning for the next growing season.


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Black spots on green or ripend tomatoes and the leaves is definitely not a good sign. Such signs indicate that the plant has fallen for any of the tomato plant diseases. There are several culprits involved that can be responsible for these symptoms. Here are the predominant reasons.

Tomato Blight

This is the main disease that can single-handedly destroy your plant if proper care is not taken. There are three type of blights that can be very harmful for a healthy plant and is the reason for the spots on the leaves as well. These three types include – septoria leaf spot on tomato leaves, early blight, and late blight. While the first one attacks only the leaves, the rest can harm the fruit as well. While late blight spreads the fungus Phytophthora infestans, the early blight is caused by the fungus Alternaria solani. Infestation by both of these fungi can cause dark brown and black spots on the leaves and stem of the plant. It can gradually get worse and cause dark spots on the tomatoes.

Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is the reason behind most spots on the bottom of tomatoes, especially green ones. This condition is caused by calcium deficiency in the plant that is due to the huge fluctuations in the atmospheric moisture. These spots are sunken and brownish at the beginning and get really widespread and destroy the fruit completely. Blossom end rot is dangerous not only because it causes the potential local injury to the fruit, but also makes that plant more susceptible to fall for several other harmful conditions.

Bacterial Spots

The bacterial spots are caused by the bacterium called Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria,. It is the same bacteria that also troubles peppers. It generally causes dark and black spots on the leaves and stems of the plant. It causes spots on green tomatoes that look slightly bumpy and are usually surrounded by water soaked areas. Moreover, this bacteria hibernates in the plant debris and soil and hence provides a potential threat to the crop of the next season as well. Hence, it is important to remove the threat completely, before the plantation in the next season.

Preventive Measures

As said earlier, once formed, black spots on the leaves cannot be treated. Hence, it is for the benefit of a healthy crop to prevent them before they appear. It is important to prevent the blights from attacking the tomato plant. Extreme wet or extreme hot conditions suit blights the best and hence it is best for the gardeners in that region to take proper prevention and spray the best fertilizers before the plant gets infected. Using flood irrigation can also be useful rather than spraying fungicides on the leaves. One can also use a bicarbonate of soda instead of the chemical fertilizers.

If the crop is wasted this season due to the black spots and blights, there is no reason to put your head down. One can always begin from the start and get the best crop the next time. One thing that can be done is rotating the crop. Rotate the location of the plants and you will see that there are no spots on the leaves and tomatoes as well. Dilute 20gms of bicarbonate of soda in 10 liters of water and spray the solution biweekly on the plant to keep it safe.

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Black Spots on Tomatoes Could Be Blossom-End Rot (BER)

As you pick your first tomatoes of the season on a beautiful summer morning, you panic when you discover a gruesome black spot on some of the fruits, opposite the stem. This is called Blossom-End Rot, so named because the black spot on the tomato occurs on the end of the fruit which contained the flower blossom. This disease can also appear in peppers and watermelons.

One of the first cherry tomatoes I harvested this year shows blossom end rot. The rest are fine.

During a dry period or drought, water your tomato plants with a hose, watering can, soaker hose or drip irrigation. This should keep them alive and somewhat productive, but there’s no substitute for a soaking day-long rain. When that downpour finally comes, everything in your garden perks up and greens up, fruits and vegetables begins to ripen and move a little closer to edible. That’s because the roots finally have enough water to transport nutrients through the stem of the plant to where the fruits and vegetables are forming.

What causes Blossom-End Rot?

Blossom-End Rot is caused by insufficient calcium supplied to the tomato, pepper, or watermelon fruit as it’s forming. This may be caused by a calcium deficiency in your soil, but more likely it will appear after a period of drought – the roots fail to obtain sufficient water, decreasing the ability of the plant to transport calcium up to the developing fruits, and the fruits become rotted on their basal ends.

In many cases, Blossom-End Rot is confined to the first few fruits to ripen and is more of a cosmetic issue than a disease like tomato blight which requires drastic action. Fungicides and pesticides will be of no use in fighting Blossom-End Rot, as it’s not a fungus that spreads from fruit to fruit or fruit to plant. However, as the fruit is in a weakened and vulnerable state, secondary infections from pests and disease may occur. It’s wise to immediately destroy any fruits which shows signs of the disease.

Blossom-End Rot can most easily be identified by a discolored, sunken spot at the blossom end of the fruit, most commonly tomatoes. The spot will start out small, and grow larger and darker as the fruit continues to grow. Generally, blossom end rot causes the fruit to ripen prematurely, resulting in inedible fruit.The Spruce (formerly Organic Gardening)

Other causes of Blossom-End Rot

Another commonly overlooked reason for Blossom-End Rot is cultivation too close to the plant. This may destroy portions of the roots, limiting the plant’s ability to take up water and minerals.

Tomatoes planted in cold, heavy soils or planted out too early in spring often have poorly developed root systems. Since they are unable to supply adequate amounts of water and nutrients to the plant during times of stress, blossom end rot may result. This is a good reason to pinch off the first few flower buds which appear after transplanting, as it will encourage deeper root penetration and therefore a better supply of nutrients, especially during a drought.

Soils that contain excessive amounts of soluble salts (for instance from overuse of synthetic fertilizers) may predispose tomatoes and peppers to Blossom-End Rot, because the availability of calcium to the plant decreases rapidly as total salts in the soil increase.

Learn the secrets of growing organic tomatoes in your garden

How to avoid Blossom-End Rot

  • Water tomatoes, peppers, watermelons and other plants regularly – make sure they get at least one inch of water per week in absence of rain.
  • Compost liberally when transplanting and side dress with more compost thirty days later. Tomatoes love compost and if you’ve been putting egg shells in the compost pile, there should be sufficient calcium around the root zone to supply all of the calcium the fruit needs. Compost will also help the soil retain moisture.
  • Once the plant is established, don’t cultivate too close to the base to avoid damaging surface roots
  • Mulch the soil around your plants to keep the moisture in the soil from evaporating during dry periods
  • If Blossom-End Rot appears year after year in the absence of drought, it may point to a calcium deficiency in your soil and steps should be taken to increase calcium levels

More information on Blossom-end rot is available from the Cornell University Vegetable MD online

Tomato Plant Leaves Turning Black


I have a tomato plant in a large container, and it has 4 small tomatoes on it. Yesterday I noticed that the leaves were turning black as if the plant had been scorched on the edges. What could be causing this? The plant in the next container is fine. Advertisement

Hardiness Zone: 6a

Peggy62 from Chillicothe



It could be a couple of things.

Normally, leaf scorch is a result of stress from drought, or caused from pesticide burn or fertilizer burn. Check these first.

It you rule these out, then what you are describing could be blight. There are two types of blight, early and late. Both are a fungal disease commonly affecting potatoes and tomatoes. Symptoms on leaves start as tiny brown spots, which develop into greenish gray or brown areas that can expand to cover the entire leaf. These spots are sometimes surrounded by a ring of yellow tissue on the upper surface of the leaves and a ring of white fungal growth on the undersides of the leaves. Affected leaves drop early, which exposes fruit to sunscald.


Treatment is straightforward: remove or destroy infected plants and get rid of all debris. In your case, it’s best to relocate your plant away from the others until you figure out whether or not it’s infected. Pick off all infected leaves, and avoid watering from overhead because the splash may launch the disease spores. Don’t over fertilize. If you believe there is a need, get the appropriate garden fungicide for vegetable crops and apply according to directions.

If your plant ends up dying a premature death, make sure you get rid of all of the dead plant debris, then wash and sterilize the pot with a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. When replanting, look for disease-resistant cultivars. Also, preventative copper-based fungicides may sometimes help reduce the spread of early blight.


More Answers:

Sounds like mold to me. you might want to get some spray for it and spray the surrounding plants. dose it look like this? (05/23/2008)

By Marisa Cardona

Tomato plants got black stems and the leaves dry out

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