5 Most Common Tomato Stem Problems: And How to Fix Them


Tomato stem problems can be one of the most frustrating issues when it comes to growing tomatoes. It’s important to know the most common tomato stem problems and how to fix them, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the 5 most common tomato stem problems, how to identify them, and how to address them. By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge and tools to ensure that your tomato plants thrive!

Here are the 5 most common tomato stem problems and their fixes

1. Curly top virus

Curly top virus

The curly top virus is a common tomato stem problem caused by the Beet Curly Top Virus (BCTV). This virus is spread by the beet leafhopper, which feeds on the leaves of tomato plants and injects the virus. 

Symptoms of the curly top virus include bumps on the tomato stems, brown spots, white growths, and black spots on the stems. Tomato plant stems may also turn brown or black, and the leaves of infected plants may become twisted or yellow. Tomato fruit may be stunted, misshapen, or discolored.

How to Fix the Curly Top Virus?

The best way to prevent the curly top virus is to protect your tomato plants from the beet leafhopper. Plant tomato varieties that are resistant, cover your plants with row covers, and get rid of any plants that are sick. If you already have an infection, removing affected leaves can help stop the spread of the disease. 

You should also rotate your crops every year, as this will reduce the risk of infection. Finally, applying insecticides containing cyfluthrin or lambda-cyhalothrin helps control the spread of the virus.

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2. Fusarium wilt

Fusarium wilt

Fusarium wilt is a common tomato stem disease caused by the soil-borne fungus Fusarium oxysporum. This fungus infects tomato plants through their roots, which cause severe wilting and yellowing throughout the entire plant. 

Symptoms of this disease include brown or black spots on tomato stems, white growth on the stems on the tomato stem, as well as browning or dying tomato stems.

How to Fix Fusarium Wilt?

  • Sanitation: Make sure to clean up any infected plants or debris as soon as possible to reduce the risk of further infection.
  • Improve Soil Drainage: If you want to stop Fusarium wilt, you need to make sure the soil drains well and lets air flow through it.
  • Use Disease-Resistant Varieties: Choose tomato varieties that are resistant to disease and have been bred to be resistant to Fusarium wilt.
  • Crop Rotation: If you can, change up your crops every year or two to keep the disease from building up in the soil.
  • Avoid overwatering: Too much water helps Fusarium wilt spread, so make sure to only water your tomatoes when they need it.

3. Verticillium wilt

Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease that affects tomato plants. It is caused by the soil-borne fungus Verticillium dahliae. 

Symptoms of Verticillium wilt include wilting, yellowing, and death of leaves, and brown streaks bumpsor  on tomato stems. The plant also experiences stunted growth and brown spots on the leaves. The vascular system of the tomato plant will become discolored and contain white growths.

How to Fix Verticillium Wilt?

The best way to fight Verticillium wilt in your garden is to rotate your crops and keep your garden clean. After harvest, make sure to clear out old plant material and plant tomatoes in a different location each year. 

The disease can also be treated and prevented using fungicides containing chlorothalonil. In order to help reduce the spread of the fungus, do not work in wet soil and provide adequate drainage for the plants. Lastly, prune off affected parts of the plant to prevent the disease from spreading.

4. Nematodes

One of the most common tomato stem problems is nematode infestation. A nematode is a tiny, worm-like creature that feeds on the roots and stems of tomato plants, stunting their growth, yellowing their leaves, and leaving brown spots on their stems.

You may also notice bumps on tomato stems or white growth on tomato plant stems. The presence of black spots on tomato stems or even tomato stems turning brown is another indication of nematodes. 

How to Fix Nematodes?

The best way to combat nematodes is to rotate your crop each season. It reduces the number of nematodes in the soil since there are fewer hosts for them to feed on. You should ensure your soil is well aerated and amended with organic matter, as this creates an inhospitable environment for these pests.

Finally, if you have a particularly bad infestation, you can use beneficial nematodes that will help to control the population.

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5. Bacterial Canker

Bacterial canker

Bacterial canker is a serious disease that affects tomato plants, causing stem problems. The disease is caused by the bacterium Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. Michiganensis and is characterized by wilting and yellowing of the leaves, followed by brown, water-soaked lesions on the stem. 

These lesions can be either sunken or raised and may have a characteristic “bird’s-eye” appearance. As this disease progresses, the stem may become weak and eventually break, leading to the death of the plant.

How to fix Bacterial canker?

If you’re dealing with this issue, it’s important to act quickly and take steps to manage the disease. Here are some tips on how to fix the bacterial canker tomato stem problem:

  • Remove Infected Plants: The first step in managing bacterial canker is to remove any infected plants immediately. This will help prevent the disease from spreading to other plants.
  • Apply Copper Fungicide: Apply a copper fungicide to the remaining plants to help prevent the disease from spreading further. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
  • Control Moisture Levels: Bacterial canker thrives in wet and humid conditions. Control the moisture levels in your garden by watering your plants at the base and avoiding overhead watering


Tomato stem problems can be frustrating and detrimental to the health of your tomato plants. However, by identifying and addressing the most common issues. you can ensure that your tomatoes thrive.

Whether it’s the curly top virus, Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt, nematodes, or bacterial canker. There are practical steps you can take to prevent and treat these problems.

By following the tips and strategies outlined in this article. you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy a healthy and bountiful tomato harvest.

Remember, prevention is always the best approach, so prioritize good soil health, crop rotation, and regular maintenance to keep your tomato plants healthy and strong.

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