Managing Tomato Late Blight

“My tomato leaves are turning brown and fruits don’t look good. They have weird spots on them. What is going on?” -Question from Andy in Macon, Georgia

ANSWER: A photo would confirm it, but it sounds like your tomatoes have been stricken with late blight. Late blight is caused by a fungus-like disease that overwinters on infected plant material on or in soils. Sometimes plants sold carrying the disease.

The symptoms of tomato late blight are tomatoes with oily patches, and plants with stem lesions, and browning leaves. (See the image of the late-blighted ‘Speckled Roman’ tomato above.) Sadly, late blight (Phytophthora infestans) is a deadly disease–in fact it is the disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine. It kills tomatoes more slowly than potatoes, but it is equally lethal and destroys tomato fruits.

There are several things that you can do to protect your beds and future tomato plantings from this disease. Please read this Black Gold article about tomato late blight to learn more: Click here to read more about tomato late blight.

Good luck!

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.

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