Tomatoes Become Wrinkled On The Plant: What To Do?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:36 pm

Tomatoes shrivel not only when stored incorrectly and / or too long, but also sometimes on the plant itself. For the shriveling different causes come into question, although most are harmless in nature. In this article you will learn why tomatoes shrivel on the plant and what you can do about it!

Lack of water

One of the most obvious reasons for shriveled tomatoes is lack of water. Tomato plants need water not only to grow and thrive, because the fruits also want to be abundantly supplied with water. After all, the fruits consist of a proud 95 percent water. Whether the plants are suffering from a lack of water can be recognized by the following symptoms:

  • Water deficiency first shows up on the leaves
  • Leaves are no longer crisp
  • the entire plant becomes flaccid

Fruits begin to shrivel at a relatively late stage

Tomatoes Become Wrinkled On The Plant: What To Do?

What to do?
To remedy a lack of water in tomatoes, the plants should be watered immediately and, above all, abundantly. As a rule, there is an improvement after a few days.


Water shortage can be easily prevented by watering the tomatoes regularly. Likewise, ensure uniformity in watering, otherwise the plants may be stressed. It is important that the plant never dries out! To test whether the tomatoes need to be watered, it is recommended to do a thumb test. If the soil is dry, please be sure to water the tomatoes. In addition, the following factors should be considered when watering tomatoes:

  • water regularly
  • water more on hot days
  • water less after rain
  • small tomatoes need less water
  • water tall tomatoes more
  • nematodes

If at the suspicion of water shortage and the appropriate watering occurs, it is possible that the water uptake is disturbed. Very often this disturbance can be attributed to nematodes. These are small worms in the soil that attack the roots and prevent both nutrient and water uptake. In addition to shriveled fruit, nematodes also cause the following symptoms:

  • Plant stands grow irregularly
  • Scanty growth
  • reduced number of flowers
  • deformation of roots and leaves
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Plant discolors and wilts

What to do?
Unfortunately, at the present time there is no way to control nematodes. However, it is all the more important to reduce their population and thus prevent further spread. For this, however, unfortunately, the infested tomatoes must be removed from the bed, subsequently proceeding as follows:

  • Remove plants from the bed
  • bed should lie fallow for about 4 – 5 months
  • best in the summer
  • Remove weeds during this time
  • Observe crop rotation – e.g: Grow corn


Catfacing is a physiological disorder that can affect not only tomatoes, but also peaches, apples and even grapes. In tomato plants, large tomato varieties, such as beef tomatoes, are most affected.

  • deformation of the fruit
  • resembles a cat’s face
  • scarring
  • incomplete pollination

Catfacing can be triggered and favored by several factors, with unfavorable growing conditions as the main cause. In particular, a drop in temperature before or during flowering can trigger this phenomenon. Tomatoes require a minimum temperature of 15 degrees during the ripening period. If this is fallen below for several days, catfacing often occurs.

  • Favouring factors / triggers
  • excess nitrogen in the soil
  • too aggressive pruning
  • Thrips infestation

What to do?

How to act in case of catfacing depends primarily on the cause. If the tomatoes have been exposed to excessively low temperatures for several days and the fruit is now shriveling, this is not a big deal. The tomatoes may look unsightly, but they can still be eaten. For the other possible causes, action must be taken accordingly:

Excess nitrogen: refrain from using nitrogenous fertilizers.
too aggressive grafting: graft less / no more
Thrips infestation: hang up blue boards, spray plant with mixture of soap suds and water

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Catfacing can be prevented relatively easily and, above all, effectively by taking certain precautions. Since the disturbance is usually due to a drop in temperature, it is important to protect the plants properly from excessively low temperatures. This is particularly important for tomatoes cultivated outdoors, as they are entirely at the mercy of the weather. To protect tomatoes from catfacing, it is best to proceed as follows:

  • Always monitor temperature
  • if necessary, cover tomatoes, e.g. with a fleece
  • do not overcrop
  • do not fertilize with too much nitrogen
  • Blight and brown rot
Tomatoes Become Wrinkled On The Plant: What To Do?

Shriveled tomatoes can also be a sign of a fungal infection, such as the fungus “Phytophthora infestans”. This triggers the dreaded late blight in tomatoes, which can destroy entire tomato stocks. It is therefore advisable to check tomatoes regularly in order to detect and treat the fungal disease as early as possible. Late blight manifests itself through the following symptoms:

  • wilting leaves
  • leaves turn gray-green and die off
  • white fungal coating on leaves
  • dark spots on stems
  • tomatoes become dull
  • hard spots on fruits
  • they begin to shrivel
  • fruits start to rot – flesh turns brown
  • fruits are inedible!

What to do?

If the fungal infestation is already far advanced and can already be seen on the fruit, the affected plants should be removed from the crop immediately. However, these should not be disposed of in the compost under any circumstances, as the fungus can easily overwinter on the crop waste. It is better to dispose of the affected plants in household waste or to burn them. If the fungus has not yet infected the entire plant and is still in its early stages, on the other hand, it is worth trying to control it:

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Use sprays containing copper – e.g.: Cueva fungus-free, Celaflor fungus-free Saprol N.
Note: Some sprays are dangerous to bees, such as Neudorff AF Pilzfrei.


It is best to keep the risk of fungal diseases as low as possible. This can be achieved by taking simple but effective precautions. Since moisture usually favors fungi, proper watering is essential. For this, the tomato plants are best always watered from below and directly on the roots. The leaves, on the other hand, should remain dry as much as possible. In addition, the following measures have proven successful:

  • Provide outdoor tomatoes with rain protection – e.g. a tomato roof.
  • ventilate the greenhouse regularly
  • regularly prune out and remove the lowest leaves
  • maintain sufficient planting distance

Tip: There are some varieties that are resistant to late blight. These include Phantasia F1, Philovita F1 and Pyros F1.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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