Tomato plants wilting. - Knowledgebase Question

Davie, FL
Avatar for depompa
Question by depompa
January 26, 1998
I am a novice tomato gardner. I purchased plants at Walmart, placed them in a 20 gal. tub, and they were doing very well in my back yard. They grew to three feet and were apparantly healthy. Suddently they are starting to wilt and it is getting worse daily . I think they are goners. Can you help?

Answer from NGA
January 26, 1998
First of all, I'll assume that you have give the plants adequate water--keeping them moist but not soggy, and that they get good sun.

You did not say what variety of tomatoes you planted in the container. Some varieties are more resistant to wilt diseases and viruses than are others. In the future, buy plants that are labelled as resistant to these problems.

The letters V, F, N which often follows a variety name refer, respectively, to that variety's resistance to verticillum wilt, fusarium wilt and nematodes. When two of the same letters occur together, such as FF, it denotes resistance to 2 'races' of the disease. (T) stands for tobacco mosaic and (A) means resistance to alternaria leaf blight.

Once tomato plants have started wilting from a disease problem, there is nothing that can be done for that plant. You should pull it up and get rid of the plant. Do not add to the compost pile. If you plan to reuse the container, get rid of all the soil in the container and wash container with water and bleach. In the future, consider using a sterile potting mix, as some wilt diseases are found in garden soil.

The varieties I have had the best luck with, in Duval County, are Celebrity and Better Boy. Both have resistance to all the wilts listed above. These are large tomatoes. The Better Boy needs staking (indeterminate). The Celebrity is determinate and needs support, but staking is not required.

Burpee has a number of tomato varieties on pages 88 through 90 of their 1998 catalog. If you don't have a copy, you can call Burpee at 1-800-888-1447 and request a copy.

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