How Do You Know If You Are Overwatering Tomatoes?

How Do You Know If You Are Overwatering Tomatoes?

As too much watering of tomato plants causes root rot, now is the best time to really examine how we take care of our tomato plants as it turns out that sometimes hobbyist tomato growers can be a little overzealous in caring for their edibles, during which visits to the garden is too frequent than normal. But, how do you know if you are overwatering tomato plants?

Tomato plants that are swamped with excessive watering develop blisters or bumps on their lower leaf profiles as an early stage sign for overwatering. When your tomato plants are at the fruiting stage, you will likely notice the visible cracking of the fruits while the lower leaves turn corky-ish or blisters following the overwatering of your tomato plant. 

While some plants do well with excess watering, tomato plants do not do so well with zealous watering. Apparently, there is such a thing as overwatering, which can have an adverse effect upon tomatoes. 

But what are the signs? How do you know if you are overwatering your tomatoes?  

To put it briefly, there are three main signs that you are overwatering your tomatoes.

Bumps or Blister: Check the tomato plant leaves

Are your tomato plants showing more wilted or yellowed leaves than normal? Sometimes the yellowness can even be visible on the stems. 

Alternatively, the leaves might develop bumps and blisters. If the overwatering continues, the leaves’ bumps or blisters turn corky or the leaves may even fall off entirely.

It can be quite challenging to note the difference between overwatered tomato plants and under-watered plants, especially when you are a newbie. As such, it is recommended that you should pay attention to this when the soil around plants is still moist. 

Check the Roots

And the other sign can be noted on the roots. So it is important to check the roots when you want to assess whether you are overwatering your plants. 

Tomato plants that have received excessive water will often have roots that develop a very dark color, which is a huge difference from the normal-looking pale color of healthy roots. Besides this, the roots may start developing a slimy type of texture. 

Check the area around the plant

Is the place dry, or it is wet and squishy? Well, the other way you will be able to tell if you are over caring for your tomato plants is if a puddle remains on the soil surface for hours after watering the plants, or if the soil feels wet. 

However, excessive amounts of water can drive air out of the soil around the plants’ roots, eventually drowning the roots. When there seems to be a puddle, you need to act fast before your plant drown. 

You will be able to rescue the overwatered plants by gently pulling them up, shaking off excess dirt, and resting the roots on a newspaper stack. You can then plant them again once the newspapers have absorbed that excess water. 

Other Causes of Wilting in Tomato Plants

Sometimes, overwatering isn’t the only cause of tomato wilting. The list of wide ranging factors that can make the tomato plants to wilt is also endless. These are factors such as diseases and pests. Some weather conditions can also mimic the effects of overwatering.

For instance, some wilting during the hottest part of the day can be quite normal, and the plants typically recover by evening hours, so you shouldn’t at all worry about this cause of wilting. 

However, if the wilting seems to persist, viruses like verticillium or fusarium wilt or pests like the stalk borer might be responsible. 

Verticillium and fusarium wilt will be the cause of yellowing on the tomato leaves, after which the leaves will wilt severely. Here, it’s just a matter of time for the plants to die. 

To check whether a particular virus or a disease is responsible for your tomato plants’ death, investigate by cutting through the dead plant’s lower stem and look for a brownish discoloration. This color will indicate that the plant was in fact infected with a disease. 

Besides these, the other disease that causes wilting is the tomato spotted wilt virus. On top of wilting, the tomato spotted wilt virus causes stunted growth, bronzed foliage, and green or brown rings on fruit, which in this case are the tomatoes.

Stalk borer caterpillars are also another cause of wilting in plants, specifically the caterpillars that are striped cream and purple

These pests cause wilting by tunneling into tomato plant stems. 

The caterpillars burrow into tomato plants very early in the period or season, which leaves small holes in the stems that are rather difficult to see.

If you find out that your tomato plants are suffering from the wilt disease, you only have one option: to pull up and completely destroy the plants. 

Because prevention is better than cure, you should always be alert in finding ways to avoid such gardening problems in the future. 

To avoid all problems that come with overwatering of tomant plants in the future i recommend that you grow tomato varieties that are resistant to the verticillium or fusarium wilt. 

That said, there are so many varieties of tomatoes out there. Seed catalogs often show which varieties are resistant by including a V or an F after the variety name. 

While you may find tomato varieties resistant to some diseases, there are no tomato varieties that have developed resistance to tomato spotted wilt viruses. 

Tomato plants that were previously damaged by stalk borers or caterpillars that we talked about above may survive every now and then, so embrace a wait-and-see approach if you suspect that the cream and purple striped caterpillars have affected your plants.

Did you know that some plants in your vegetable garden can also cause wilting in your tomato plants? If you have a black walnut tree in your garden, the chances are that it could be responsible for the wilting in your tomato plants. 

Why black walnut trees?

Well, if you must know, Black walnut trees contain a chemical known as juglone, which is believed to be poisonous to tomato plants. The chemical reaches the plants from the trees’ leaves and rain that drips from those black walnut trees. 

Once the chemical drips on the tomato plants, there is pretty much nothing you can do. This type of damage to your tomato plants is permanent. 

As such, only way that you can avoid a recurrence of this is to grow tomatoes 75 feet to 100 feet away from the walnut trees. That should be a safe distance.

How to Save Overwatered Tomato Plants

Back to overwatered tomato plants. A lot of tomato gardeners often ask “can I save my tomatoes if I have been overwatering them”

The answer is yes. However, you don’t have that much time. You have to act very quickly if you don’t want your tomato plants to drown and die. 

An emergency act can help an overwatered tomato plant to recover. Once recovered, a tomato plant can even go on and produce very beautiful and plump tomatoes for you. 

If the overwatered plants have been grown in pots, you should gently remove then and pull away soaking compost that doesn’t contain any roots. 

Then, place the root area on a newspaper stack (two or three newspapers should be fine). What you are doing here is that you are drawing away from the excess moisture from your tomato roots. 

Once you feel that enough moisture has been absorbed from the tomato roots, consider planting the overwatering the tomato plant for a second time, and this time use a pot with fresh soil that just fits the roots. 

On the other hand, if the plant is in the ground and the overwatering is due to continuous rainfall, you can simply place a clear plastic sheet over the plant, and take it out when the rains stop.

The Correct Watering for Tomato Plants

Even though tomato plants that have been newly transplanted into the garden have need of persistently moist soil, most established plants only require water when the soil is dry to a depth ranging from 2 to about 3 inches. 

It is best advised that you should water tomato plants in the morning hours in order to avoid wetting the leaves, which then discourages the development of the fungal leaf diseases. 

Mature tomato plants will require about 1 inch of water per week, which can be provided through rain. If it rains fall heavily for up to 3 hours, that’s more than enough water for your plants to go for a full week. That said, tomato plants are easy to maintain in the rainy season. 

Yet, if the weather is hot, dry or even windy, the plants might need water on a daily basis. If you aren’t sure when the right time to water your tomato plants is, just push a trowel into the soil 4 inches from the stem’s base. 

This will allow you to check the soil moisture. With that said, only water when the soil is dry. If the base of the plant seems wet, your plant is doing fine. 

Helpful Tips

You can prevent future issues with overwatering by maintaining a so-called irrigation schedule, during which you will be watering your plants regularly. 

Also, spread a layer of organic mulch such as leaves, hay or wood chips around the tomato plants in order to help improve the soil’s drainage and maintain moisture. 

On top of this, you should avoid watering your tomato plants if there’s rain in the forecast over the next 24 hours.


Lastly, overwatering is a problem that can greatly affect your tomato plants. As mentioned in this article above, checking the roots, leaves, and the plant’s base will help you identify the overwatering issue. 

However, if your plants wilt due to a virus of the wilt disease, you can simply throw in the towel and cut your losses. Just make sure you change the soil before introducing another plant into that soil. 

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