Tomatoes are a great plant to grow, but some people get overly excited and give them too much water. Signs of overwatered tomato plants include swollen leaves, yellowing leaves, mold on the soil and tomatoes that start to crack.
This article will explore the top 7 signs of overwatered tomato plants and how to save them.
7 Signs That Your Tomato Plants Are Overwatered
Here are the main ways to tell if you’ve been overwatering your tomato plants:
1. Swelling on the Leaves
When you overwater tomatoes, the leaves can swell and even get blisters on them. The reason it happens is because the excess water is being absorbed into the roots and never gets to the soil. You can sometimes save the plant at this point, but even that doesn’t always work.
2. Tomatoes Are Starting to Crack Open
If you overwater your tomatoes, the water may travel upwards to the fruit itself, and it builds up pressure until the tomatoes start to burst open. If you notice that your tomato plants are starting to crack open, you are likely overwatering them.
3. Leaves and Stems Turn Brown
Brown, wilted leaves and stems can be a sign that you’re overwatering your tomato plants. You might also find blisters on the stems, and if you cut into the stems, you might see water and extra dampness, as well as brown rings.
4. Yellow Leaves
Yellow leaves are a common sign of overwatering your tomato plants. Wet soil stop the roots from accessing the oxygen the plant needs.
Yellowing can also occur as the water soluble nitrogen is washed out of the soil. Plants need nitrogen to form the chlorophyll in their leaves which gives them their deep green color.
5. There Is Mold on the Soil
Finding mold on the soil of your tomato plant is a good sign that you’re overwatering it. It happens because the buildup of moisture causes too much dampness and humidity and therefore, mold starts to develop.
6. Stunted Growth
Overwatering your tomato plant can cause the roots to suffocate, which means the plant won’t get the nutrients it needs to grow and thrive. Stunted growth is the result, so if your plants stop growing, you might be overwatering it.
7. Root Rot Has Started
Root rot is a fungal infection that is caused from overwatering because the excess water creates a damp, humid environment. The roots usually turn either black or brown and will sometimes have a bad smell. Most of the time, root rot is easy to recognize.
5 Ways to Save an Overwatered Tomato Plant
You can save an overwatered tomato plant if you catch the problem soon enough. The sooner you address the problem, the more likely you’ll be able to save your tomato plant. Here are a few things you can do save an overwatered tomato plant.
1. Immediately Stop Watering It
If you stop watering your tomato plant and let it sit for a few days, that can give you some idea of how bad the problem is. Let it sit for two or three days, then stick your finger in the soil down to about two inches deep to test the dampness level.
If there is still some dampness, wait another two or three days and check it again. Once the top of the soil is nice and dry, you can start watering the plant again.
2. Remove Some of Your Branches and Leaves
If you notice any leaves and branches that are droopy, wilty, or brown, go ahead and remove them from the tomato plant. This will conserve the energy the plant needs to grow and thrive.
Always use sharp pruning shears and wipe the blades with rubbing alcohol first.
3. Dry Out the Plant
Without removing tomato plants from the ground, cover the soil with straw or bark mulch. This will help to draw out excess water and help the plant to recover.
For potted tomato plants you can wrap the pot in a towel for 3-4 hours which will also help to absorb extra water from the soil.
You can also remove the plant from the pot and wrap it in newspaper. This will draw water out of the soil and help to dry it out.
Check out this video to use this method to save your tomato plants.
4. Trim the Roots of Potted Tomato Plants
If potted tomato plant roots have started to head out of the drainage holes you can remove any that are damaged. Look for roots that are black or brown and remove those while you’re also removing the branches and leaves.
Make sure you sterilize the shears before and after because root rot is caused by a fungal infection, which might spread to other plants. Don’t cut the white roots because those are the healthy ones.
5. Replant the Tomato Plant
Repotting your tomato plants in fresh potting soil is a great way to save them from overwatering. Let the excess damp soil drop off and replace it with new, fresh soil. This will add back nutrients, remove the excess moisture and add air back into the soil to support root growth.
Tomato Plant Watering Tips
- To avoid overwatering tomato plants let the top 1-2 inches of soil to dry out before watering the plants again.
- Aim to water the plants once or twice a week in order to keep them healthy. Use mulch to help to regulate the water in the soil.
- Use pots or containers with drainage holes so that any excess water is immediately removed from the pots.
- Choose a potting soil that is made specifically for tomatoes. It will drain well and be full of organic matter.
Overwatering tomato plants isn’t that difficult to do because many people are unaware of exactly how much water any given plant needs. If you notice leaves that don’t look right, stunted growth, or mold growth on the soil, you might be giving your tomato plants too much water.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.