4 Sneaky Reasons Behind Tomato Leaves Turning White


If you’re an avid fan of growing your own fruits and veggies, you must’ve tried growing your own tomato plants.

Well, like every other plant, growing tomatoes comes with its own share of troubles. 

If you ever faced your tomato leaves turning white, you know exactly what we’re talking about. In this post, we’ll talk about the top reasons this may happen and how you can fix it.

If that sounded fun, you’ll love what we have in store for you. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

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Photo of Tomatoes growing on the vine
Photo by Dusan Kostic

Reasons for Tomato Leaves Turning White

When trying to grow your tomato plants from scratch, you may face a few bumps down the road. 

That’s because tomato seedlings are especially sensitive to any weather change. Thus, any fluctuation in the temperature will show directly on the plant.

In case you’re a beginner when it comes to gardening, keeping all these factors in your mind may be a little overwhelming. However, we’re here to make things easier. 

With our easy to follow the guide, you can troubleshoot your problem quickly. Let’s see how. 

Reason 1: Sunscald/Overexposure to Sunlight

As we previously mentioned, tomato plants are pretty sensitive to temperature change. That also includes it’s exposure to sunshine. Especially if you have a tomato seedling that you’re growing, you must be extra careful not to expose the plant to direct sunlight. 

An excellent way to explain this is to compare tomato leaves to your skin. Just like your skin feels all damaged and flaky after a day at the beach, tomato leaves also turn white from sunburn.

In case your healthy plant suddenly turned white from the tips; this might be the reason. Yellow and brown leaves might also be an indication that your plant is too much exposed to sunlight. 

How You Can Fix This

Whether you take it as good or bad news, overexposure to the sun isn’t a plant disease that you can cure. 

What we mean is, you can’t nurse the burnt parts back to health. Instead, you can chop off the affected areas and move the plant in a shade. 

The tomato plant should get some indirect sunlight but also be protected. Thus, pick such a sheltered spot but also give the plants some exercise. You can use proper shade cloth to keep your plants safe from direct sunlight.

Hardening the plants by slowly increasing their sun exposure is one such great practice.

This will slowly build their tolerance to sunlight. Then, keep watering the plant and you’ll notice the plant nursing back to health in no time at all.

Reason 2: Soil Problems

Any veteran gardener will tell you that soil quality plays a massive role in a plant’s health. Moreover, not all types of soil are suitable for a tomato plant.

In most cases, tomato seedlings love a soil mix that’s rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. If your soil lacks these, then the effect will indeed show up on the plant leaves.

Now that doesn’t mean you should load your potted plant with fertilizers. That’s because too many nutrients could also cause your plant to turn white, or die off. 

How You Can Fix This

If your plant is under fertilized, the fix is quite simple. But how do you know that this is the problem?

A good rule of thumb is to fertilize your plants every once a while. Just grab a fertilizer that’s made for potted plants and you’re good to go. 

Look for a fertilizer that’s rich in nitrogen, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Extra points if you can get your hands on a fertilizer or spikes that’s specially formulated for tomato plants. Here are the top picks of our experts for you-

FertilizerMiracle-Gro Plant Food, Tomato Fertilizer
SpikeJobe’s Tomato Fertilizer Spikes

In case your tomato plant is overfertilized, then watering it regularly will hopefully fix the problem. 

Reason 3: Overwatering/Underwatering

Alright alright, we all know how watering affects a plant. Maybe you even water your plants regularly.

But how do you know where to draw the line? Even if you have quite some experiences under your belt, it’s pretty easy to overwater your plants or even skip a few days.

Overwatering could cause root rot and lead to your plant slowly dying off. Similarly, underwatering make the plant unable to absorb soil nutrients. This causes the plant to die off too. 

How You Can Fix This

Since these are two different problems, there’s no “one size fits all” solution. The first thing you must do is sit down and try remembering the last time you watered your plants and your watering schedule in general.

Now, here’s the thing. Most of us assume that creating a watering schedule will fix all of our problems. But in reality, you should water your plant only when they need some h2o.

Determine this by inserting a finger in the soil. If it’s dry, you’ll need some more water. If it’s damp, then skip the can.

Moreover, you can also get a drainage pot for your plant. It will definitely help you with the overwatering issue.

Reason 4: Fungal Disease

Last but not the least, the most dreaded fungal infection. White, brown or yellow leaves might be the indication to a scarier fungal attack in your garden.

If you’ve ticked off all the other reasons and still didn’t find the culprit, it may be a hidden fungal infection like Alternaria or Septoria Leaf spot. 

If it’s a fungal infection, you may notice a pattern in which the leaves are turning white. Also, the plant won’t respond well to watering or sunshine. 

How You Can Fix This

The top reason for a fungal infection to form is excessive moisture. If your indoor plant is stuck in a warm damp room, this may create scope for such fungus to grow on the leaves.

Nip the bud at the root by keeping the plant in a well-ventilated area, with enough sunshine and air. Also, water the plants directly on the roots, and not the leaves.

In case you still somehow end up with a fungal problem, buy an over-the-counter fungicide to fix this issue. 

Bottom Line

That’s all from us. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Just so that you don’t have to deal with these problems, keep up with plant care at all times. 

If you have any more questions about tomato leaves turning white, do let us know.

Until then, goodbye.

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Celina Nance

It’s been a life-long wish of Celina Nance to have a lawn full of colorful flower beds. But living in Arizona city, that seems kind of impossible. But Celina Nance didn’t stop and created a full-form balcony garden instead. And he often shares stuff that he does/solves/innovates throughout the journey.

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