What are the Signs of Overwatering a Tomato Plant?

Growing your own tomato plants allows you to reap the rewards of juicy, delicious tomatoes that are much more flavorful than the store-bought kind.

However, if you’re new to growing tomatoes you might be thinking: What are the signs of overwatering a tomato plant?

In this article, I will explore some important information about tomato plants, including the signs that you’re overwatering them and how to treat them.

Keep reading to find out more.

When it comes to watering tomatoes, overwatering can be too much of a good thing. Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes people make when attempting to grow their own tomatoes. This can quickly lead to the spoiling and early death of plants, both in containers and in the ground.

What are the signs of an overwatered tomato plant?

If you’re new to gardening, you might not know the signs to look out for of an overwatered tomato plant. A few common signs of an overwatered tomato plant include but are not limited to:

Root rot

Overwatering encourages a variety of soilborne diseases. Root rot is a clear sign that you have been overwatering your tomato plants. Tomato root rot occurs when the roots of a tomato plant are constantly wet and is a direct result of their roots becoming overwhelmed. Signs to help you recognize root rot include but are not limited to:

  • Yellow, dark-spotted, or brown leaves
  • Roots with large brown sections that may be rotted or desiccated
  • Slow-growing stressed tomato plants

Tomato plants need to be able to dry in between watering. To minimize the risk of your tomato plant developing root rot, you should water it in intervals. This will allow your tomato plant to have a good drink but will also let the plant’s roots dry in between.

However, finding the balance is imperative, as irregular watering and underwatering your plant will lead to cracked tomatoes and a wealth of other issues.

Curling leaves

Another sign of overwatering is curling leaves. As overwatered tomato plants mature and begin to set fruit, the leaves can begin to curl inward and upward. The leaves themselves are somewhat rigid or crumbly.

Although this is a sign that you’ve overwatered your tomato plant and can be alarming when it occurs quickly, it’s the least harmful and your plant will still likely provide you with ripe tomatoes.

Yellow leaves

Water-stressed tomato leaves are wilted but are still green. Yellowing leaves, on the other hand, are usually a sign that the tomato can't get enough oxygen or other nutrients due to the fact you have overwatered it.

This can happen in slow-draining soil, or if you have a drainage issue in your pot. Slow-draining soils retain more water, which can lead to it suffocating the tomato plant's roots.

Flavorless tomatoes

When it comes to harvesting your delicious homegrown tomatoes, you might notice that their flavor isn’t great if they have been overwatered. Overwatered tomatoes are watery and rather tasteless.

 Too much water during the second half of the growing season can often dilute the flavor and results in a tomato that isn’t superior to store-bought tomatoes. To maximize your homegrown tomatoes flavor, make sure you monitor how much you are watering them closely.

How to Save an Overwatered Tomato Plant

Prevention and regular monitoring are the best ways to protect your tomato plant from the damage that overwatering can cause. However, if you’re dealing with an overwatered tomato plant, there are a few steps you can take to help revive your plant.

  • Start off by eliminating the water. Remove the water that is sitting in the drip tray underneath the pot. For outdoor plants, turn off any irrigation system you that water them automatically. 
  • Next, you need to dig up your plant to remove it from the soil, being careful not to damage the root ball. If the overwatered plant is in a pot, remove it and gently pull away sodden compost that doesn't contain any roots. 
  • Proceed to cut off any spoiled or unhealthy root. While doing so, make sure that you are using clean and sanitized clippers or shears. This step is essential to avoid cross-contaminating the roots and potentially transmit other diseases to the plant.
  • You then need to allow the tomato plant to dry. Place the root area on two or three newspapers in an area with good airflow. This will help to draw away the excess moisture and allow your tomato plant’s roots to dry.
  • Once the roots have dried, you need to repot or replant the tomato plant. If you are using a pot, use a potting mix with a good blend of materials so the soil does not become too compacted. If you are planting outdoors, reevaluate the drainage and placement of your plant to avoid the same problem from occurring in the future. If necessary, dig down and place a layer of gravel below your garden soil to help with drainage.

How to Prevent Overwatering Your Tomato Plants in the Future

Tomatoes can be quite persnickety, and ensuring their growing conditions are right can be a challenge. So, how do you prevent overwatering your tomato plants?

Each plant has its own sensitivity, and the best solution for overwatering is monitoring the moisture level of the soil and take corrective action when you need to.

To help prevent overwatering the tomato plant again, plant it in a pot that just fits the roots and fill in the gaps with fresh compost. If the plant is in the ground and the overwatering is due to a bout of heavy rainfall, gently place a clear plastic sheet over the plant, removing it when the rain stops.

In summary

There are a variety of signs to look out for if you suspect that you have overwatered your tomato plant. These include but are not limited to root rot, curling leaves, and yellow leaves.

To save your overwatered tomato plants, intervene immediately and refer back to the guide above.