YouTube
Pinterest
Twitter
Facebook
Search

Help! Tomato White Heart Disorder!

By: Jessie Keith

The right soil and irrigation water pH is essential for good tomato production.

“I am growing in raised beds and hydroponically in EarthBoxes. Nothing does very well and tomatoes are horrid with hard white cores. I recently found the water from our community well tests at 8.6 pH. I am wondering if your peat formula would buffer the high water pH. Right now I am using the organic formula in the boxes. I would like to use all earth boxes to grow in as I am a senior with mobility limitations. Your suggestions please.” Question from Patricia of Eagle, Hawaii.

Answer: High pH is certainly causing your crops troubles. Tomato “white heart” or “white core” is very unpleasant, but this physiological disorder can be overcome. It is believed to be caused by nutrient deficiencies due to soil pH problems and/or extreme weather. Several studies point to potassium deficiency as being the primary cause. Tomato choice may also play a role. Many older/heirloom tomato varieties with large seed cavities appear to be more susceptible to tomato white heart disorder.

Tomatoes grow and produce best in soils with a slightly acid pH between 6.0 to 6.8. This is what you need to shoot for in your growing. We add dolomite lime to our peat mixes to naturally raise the pH to a more neutral range, but Black Gold Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss contains pure peat moss, so we do recommend blending this with our compost blend and perlite (a ratio of 3:1:1, peat, compost, perlite would work well), if you want to blend your own mix. Adding a good fertilizer formulated for tomatoes is also essential.

I also recommend you adjust the pH of your irrigation water. Check out this free webinar about adjusting irrigation water pH: Free Webinar: Tools for Adjusting Water pH Alkalinity from Penn State Extension.

Finally, choose newer, high-performing tomato varieties with smaller seed cavities. The varieties ‘Delicious‘, ‘Pink Passion‘, or any new cherry tomato on the market would be good choices.

I hope this helps!!! Keep us posted on your progress.

Happy gardening, Jessie

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

Leave a Reply

Content Disclaimer:

This site may contain content (including images and articles) as well as advice, opinions and statements presented by third parties. Sun Gro does not review these materials for accuracy or reliability and does not endorse the advice, opinions, or statements that may be contained in them. Sun Gro also does not review the materials to determine if they infringe the copyright or other rights of others. These materials are available only for informational purposes and are presented “as is” without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. Reliance upon any such opinion, advice, statement or other information is at your own risk. In no event shall Sun Gro Horticulture Distribution, Inc. or any of its affiliates be liable to you for any inaccuracy, error, omission, fact, infringement and the like, resulting from your use of these materials, regardless of cause, or for any damages resulting there from.

While we have made every effort to ensure the information on this website is reliable, Sun Gro Horticulture is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this site is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information.

Use of this site is subject to express terms of use. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use

View Our Privacy Policy