Tomato Bacterial Wilt


Bacterial Wilt is caused by the pathogen bacterium Ralstonia Solanacearum and is quite common in the moist sandy soils of the humid coastal south. This bacterium lives in the soil and will work its way quickly through the roots and up the stem of the plants.

Bacterial wilt often happens where plants have been cut, injured or weakened by insects or simply by cultivation. The bacterium clogs up the stem, preventing water and nutrients from reaching the leaves and the plant dies.

Causes and Symptoms

The first symptoms are wilting of the youngest leaves, usually during the hottest part of the day. This can easily go unnoticed because the leaves stay green but eventually the entire plant wilts and dies. These dramatic symptoms occur when the weather is hot (over 85 degrees), the humidity is high and lots of rainfall has left the ground wet. It’s also more common in soil with a high PH.

You can diagnose bacterial wilt by cutting the stem at the base of the plant. Look for discolored tissue. Suspend the stem in a glass of water. If it is infected, a white, slimy substance will ooze into the water within just a few minutes.

Treatment and control

There are no effective chemical controls. When the plants die, the pathogen is released into the soil, so it’s imperative that you remove diseased plants immediately. Do not compost the diseased plants!

So how do you prevent bacterial wilt? Good cultural controls are best.

  1. Running water can spread the disease to other parts of the garden so rotate your crops regularly away from host plants which could include all of the nightshades (tomatoes, peppers and eggplants), flowers including sunflowers and cosmos and potatoes.
  2. Try raised beds to improve drainage and control root knot nematodes that weaken plants, leaving them more susceptible to disease.
  3. Space plants far enough apart to provide good air circulation.
  4. Have your soil tested and maintain a pH of 6.2-6.5, which is ideal for growing tomatoes and many other vegetables.
  5. Wash your hands after handling infected plants and sterilize any gardening tool that could have been used in infected soil.

If you have ongoing problems with this or other soil borne disease, you may want to try raising your tomatoes in pots using commercial growing mix. You invest a ton of time and money into growing beautiful tomatoes; don’t let bacterial wilt ruin all of your efforts!

Have you dealt with bacterial wilt? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Comments from Other Gardeners
  • Jenny says:

    I have had bacterial wilt and basically used the above suggestions. The critical thing is to attack immediately because otherwise you will lose your entire crop!

  • mmspatrick says:

    Steaming the soil before planting seems to work. Another option second to steaming is baking the soil. Depending which part of the world you are different methods of steaming are used.

  • Justine Kalleku says:

    bacterial wilt first appears as flaccidity in the
    younger leaves. Under ideal environmental conditions, a complete and
    rapid wilt develops with advanced stages appearing within two to three
    days and plant death soon following. If environmental conditions are
    not optimal and the disease develops slowly, leaf epinasty occur,
    and adventitious roots may appear on the stem. These disease my cause total lose if not attended properly in early stages

  • Glenn Lee says:

    I live in Newnan, GA in a new retirement home. I put a lot of money into raised beds and the first year (2012) had a bumper crop of tomatoes. Lots of soup, tomato juice and gifts to friends. But last year every plant died starting in early June. I’ve done a lot of research and found more articles like yours that actually have led me to believe that I may have to give up on growing tomatoes. I’ve got several relatives in Georgia who tell me that this disease is spreading all over Georgia. I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a cure. I think it’s just that enough attention hasn’t been raised about the problem. But I still have a question: How did this disease get in my garden?

    Signed: a disgusted gardener

  • sam says:

    Bacterial wilt have be a lot of problem to me and farmers around me, most time I advice them to plant resistance varieties which can survive the attack.

  • Courtney says:

    thanks for the information… very helpful…

  • Don says:

    I have had bacterial wilt now for two years and just not sure what to do to get rid of it. My garden is a raised bed and the bed is 3 feet tall. the first couple of years I have a ton of tomatoes last year the wilt started and I planted the plants on the other end of the garden and yet it attached them. I guess I’m just going to have to buy pots and bags of soil to grow my tomatoes.

  • syed zaheer quadri says:

    we control it througt salary[50kg cow dung +10 liter cow urine+2kg jaggery+2kg redgram flour+5 litter buttermilk+1 kg tricoderma+100 liter water.]take 220liter water tank add above mentioned material and shake it twice a day. this process goes out for 6 days.after 6 days mix clean water (500 liter). usage of this product is 2liter per plant every month

  • Anonymous says:

    I had a serious attack of my green house by bacteria wilt.. until no tomato can survive at all.I was not able to relocate ma green house because it was much expensive to me.I just covered the ground with polythene sheet and used pots with fresh soil and i was able to produce high yilding tomatoes.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have had bacterial wilt in tomatoes grown in the green house where almost 80% perished.

  • steve says:

    bacterial wilt is almost destroying my entire tomatoes in greenhouse.have tried drenching with enrichBM but its all vanity.what is the most effective method to contrl it considering its my fisrt project.HELP

  • Anonymous says:

    Its the most serious disease especially in greenhouses.

  • Adrian says:

    After the heavy rain and humid conditions of last week (early January 2015) in Canberra, I found two of my fastest growing tomato plants were wilting, especially the new growth shoots. I checked for borers, as the vines felt hollow and soft, but found none. Then I checked all the possible fungal and bacterial diseases and concluded it must be bacterial wilt. On further research, I ripped out the infected plants (each had around 30 tomatoes ready to turn red – which I will use in soups and casseroles etc). I’m hoping the infection was limited to the plants as the base stem of each plant appeared quite robust, and the roots healthy. Now I have my fingers crossed that it will not spread to my other prized tomatoes. Life was not meant to be easy!!!

  • Dr Dharma oraon says:

    Bacterial wilt is serious diseases in rainy season tomato and also yield loss

  • Joseph Jaffu says:

    Hie all,
    I have been growing tomatoes for years and in my experience the most effective way of avoiding bacterial wilt is to practice effective good agricultural practices. Here in Africa where temperatures are likely high, the disease is usually very common.But this disease should not hinder your desire to grow tomatoes because this crop is one of the most profitable ones on the market and a lot of farmers do not know this.

  • Suleiman mutuli says:

    @STEVE practise roguing of the infected plants making sure that you carry along with it surrounding soil. thereafter bring other soil from a different soil and place where you removed the soil. Ensure that soil moisture conditions is at moderate to prevent favourable conditions that encourage root knot disease weakens the stem. thank you in advance.

  • Suleiman mutuli says:

    @Dan had you practised crop rotation?

  • facious mugaradziko says:

    i have discovered bacterial wilt in my greenhouse. at first it was one or two plants infected, but now they are more than that. i have been removing the infected plants for the past three weeks, but, unfortunately the number has increased. the fruits are almost reapening. i don’t know if i am going to get the desired/expected yield. how best can i prevent the plants that are not yet infected

  • Nooranee says:

    im a tomato planter in Mauritius. try powder lime inside the hole before putting manure or compost ,then place plants. it works.

    or spread powder lime in the whole garden and turn the soil upside down well,so that the lime and the soil are well mixed

  • Farayi mupoperi says:

    I’ve plucked one of the two affected tomatoes and taken them to my agronomist who has diagnosed bacterial wilt. However they said all hope isn’t lost. They said they have dealt with worst cases than mine but the solution seems to be boosting the plants to grow faster and stronger so that if possible they will have the ability to withstand disease on their own. My plants are six weeks as of 8 June 2015 and I have been giving them a fertilizer we call quick start here. Under normal circumstances the tomatoes take quick start for the first five weeks under fertigation, then quick grow and best bloom from weeks 11 upwards. They recommended I immediately commence best bloom under fertigation, alternate it with quick grow, then put sulphate of potash , 5g per plant. I’m hoping this would work but I’ve also observed I have to be careful not to overwater the plants. Nematodes were also detected on the root of the diseased plant so I have to get a chemical called blockade and drench my plants as soon as possible. The experts said “one of the things they don’t tell you when you commence a greenhouse project is these challenges you face”.

  • Karanja says:

    I also experienced 100% loss in a 30 * 8 greenhouse. Been advised to replace the soil entirely. I have found it to be too expensive hence resulting to pot and bag planting with fresh soil (less is needed, therefore less expensive) and covered the ground completely with polythene sheets.


    I am a young farmer trying to make a greenhouse productive but the problem of bacterial wilt and the best way to treat the soil has proved to be a real pain and a big blow to my agricultural endeavours. kindly advese me on the best method of planting tomatoes in a greenhouse and the best way to treat the soil before planting. if there are chemicals to be used, please kindly advise me, thanks in advence. i hail from Migori County and do my farming in Rapogi.

  • rju212 says:

    I’ve read that cutting the suckers(shoots between main stem and shoots like a Y) may cause bacterial wilt. Is that right

  • rju212 says:

    Can using the same tomato sticks year after year transfer funguse

  • D. Rey says:

    Can the infected tomato plant be saved by moving it to a pot, or other location? Or is the plant a vector for new infection if moved?

  • Wendy Anne says:

    Our aquaponics system is infected with bacterial wilt, unbelievable. It seems to prefer certain types of tomatoes, my black russians are as yet not affected, cross fingers, but all the others are goners. We are in tropical north Queensland, Australia. I agree with Dr Dharma oraon that it is a serious disease.

  • Lawrence Oagae says:

    Wilting of a tomato plant with the same symptoms of Bacterial wilt. But it only occurs on one row where other plants continue to wilt. Give advice.

  • John Kakembo says:

    Whatever happened to soil fumigation with fumigation guns? I used to see this done on some tomato farms in the early 70s. I didn’t even bother to ask what stuff they used to fumigate. What do those commercial farmers do who grow tomatoes on the same patch ever year?

  • sathiya says:

    Welcome to all growers, the following practice should be following for control and minimizing the bacterial wilt. 1) clean cultivation 2) possible to laying plastic mulching 3) soil or media should be sterilized by organic or inorganic way 4) application of neem cake 5) application of pseudomonosus along with farmyard manure.6)laying of proper drainage speciality

  • andrew says:

    welcome all farmers, i tried proper soil solarization and close interval drenching by use of trichoderma and bacccilus subtilis and proper control of soil ph

  • R VENUGOPAL says:

    Sorry for poor English
    take 1 gram bleaching powder in a cotton cloth and tie it.put these bl.pdr. bags in to the corners of tomato grow bags/ will effect when disease starts

  • Mary says:

    I am from Alaska and started a greenhouse with big visions of fresh garden tomatoes. Bought some plants to start. Must have had something transferred to my greenhouse from there. The wilt has taken over the greenhouse and I’m pretty discouraged. I would love to eradicate it if that’s even possible. I ordered seeds that are wilt resistant and started them myself. I use 5 gallon buckets with good drainage, air flow etc. The plants held out a little longer, but they still got wiped out.

  • Mawejje Patrick says:

    I agree that there are no chemicals to control that and for me i always plant a resistant specie which is Danny F1 and it is more resistant to bacterial wilt and also staking reduces the effect

  • churchil Biriah says:

    Am Churchil in Afrika kenya. This is my first time to plant tomato because in my area wilt is a big threat so no one bother to plant tomato . To me i manage to control it by using very hot water. The only challenge is that i lack support coz i have no water a round and i go very far using bicyle to bring water. So am praying for any volunteer to help me get awater tank and agreenhouse so as to improve my new tomato farming which is very marketable in the area.

  • saiful says:

    I am a farmer living in Malaysia. I don’t grow tomatoes but i can unferstand the troublesome of bacterial wilt. I grow chillies in polybags using cocopeat as medium.I usually grow cucumbers as rotation crop since they are heavy eaters of excess fertilizers from previous seasons. I usually use detoll or clorox to kill bacterias in my medium during pre season. I also note that by using fertilizers that ate high in ammino acids helps the crop to build more resistance towards bacterial infections. But towards the end of the season the bacteria would prevail. Somehow the ammino acid gave the extra help to keep your crop last till you finished the season

  • Anonymous says:

    I live in a tropical region in the southern hemisphere of the Indian Ocean in Mauritius, Rodrigues
    I also had faced this problem in my plantation since 2005.
    When I had made rotation or even dropped down the plot of land and there had not been amelioration and remained the same.

  • Peter Vet says:

    Uprooting of the infected plant and removal of the surrounding soil completely and replacing with fresh soil is working . alternatively use cow dung and urine

  • Stoney says:

    Does burning the garden soil help? 3 years in a row the plants have all died about half through the season. What do I do for this season? I have a small 6X12 and 9ft diameter circle in the middle of the back yard last year.



  • Ambele Mwakatobe says:

    Although unethical to good farming practices but OTC/OTC plus used to treat chicken/ animals works very well in treating bacterial wilt by drenching 200g in 45 litres of water for at least 5 days. Warning check out with regulations in your country.

  • Delila says:

    For several years our cucumber plants start wilting as soon at I put them out in the garden. I thought it was a ph imbalance but after reading about bacterial wilt, I’m pretty sure that is the problem.

  • Wandutu Free says:

    I’m experiencing brutal bacterial but,let us check our hygeny and diqgnol soil sampling plus using fertilizer that contain qlkalin dat nutraliz the high acidic that our soil has


    having worked with greenhouse for five years now, I would like to recommend the following for farmers in Bungoma Kenya and elsewhere:
    1. undertake a soil pathogenic test before crop establishment.
    2. If root knot nematodes are present, don’t waste your energy go
    for bags or pots with clean plant media.
    3. If nematodes absent,a) do fumigation and solarization.
    b)space your plants well(4-5 plants/M2). c) provide sufficient water
    (not too much) d) work on drainage e)ensure aeration by
    removing excess foliage. f)ensure there is a permanent barrier
    between sides of your greenhouse and outside soil.

  • Jewel says:

    After losing 80% of my celebrity tomatoes, MSU concluded my plants were being infected by bacterial wilt. Now with allot of research I have found nothing works. I have always rotated my crops, plant only resistant plants, grow my own plants from purchased seeds, and use a fungicide (daconil) weekly. My question comes from believing in the Older Folks, being told to mix 1 part bleach and 4 parts water, dig the hole where the plant will be planted and fill with this mixture, the following day plant the tomatoe. Before asking if this works, MSU recommends sterilizing all garden tools with bleach/water. My questions are, does this work and how will this affect the tomatoe fruit? Thanks

  • Ken says:

    I have had some success with crop rotation, green manure amendments, and removing infected crops and asymptomatic plants around them before drenching with varying rates of bleach. Ten percent seems to help. Happy Gardening!

  • chuck says:

    i planted tomatoes and in one week time i noticed that my plants had contracted bacterial wilt can there be any turn around for my field one question where i plant is often wet and cold did this cause my field to get this disease easier i would like to get some advice am in the process of losing my whole field

  • Vanlalmuana says:

    I have had bacterial wilt now in my tomatoes growing for two year,in my experience the chemical treating with like streptomycin mixed with copper oxychloride for soil drenching 30 days interval from transplanting is the best effective controlling bacterial wilt.

  • Bruce akoh says:

    Bacteria wilt is a big problem for me as a gardena.bacteria wilt have no treatment the only treatment here is to remove the plants that are already afected carry away from your gardening and distroyed them.on that same plot for next season crop make sure should treat the soil using recommended soil treatments chemicals which may not distroyed your soil but adding value to your soil

  • harris zulu says:

    hey fellow FARMERS,
    Its my first time to plant tomatoes using water canes {irrigation},my tomato plant were growing fine and i expected that to be the case when i discovered that my tomato leaves are wilting i tried to ask my fellow farmers they were complaining of the same,that when i went to consult a fellow who told me,there is a bacterial attack but i was not given this day i don’t know what to do….help

  • Rita says:

    Hi, Beginning of this year I planted tomatoes and unfortunately I lost the whole garden to tomato wilt. Good news is I learnt from the whole things and challenges and recently I’ve transplanted and this time round hoping to do my best.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hello Michael Linus of Rapogi. My name id Thomas Kaudia also of Rapogi. I grow tomatoes in five green houses in Kisumu and I have never had bactrial wilt because i steam my soil, put in planting bags, spread polythene sheet on the floor of the green house and put the filled planting bags on the polythene sheet. Like that you get no bacterial wilt. call me using +254722 826686

  • Thomas Junne Kaudia says:

    Hello Linus of Rapogi,

    Please steam the soil, put the steamed soil in polythene planting bags, spread polythene sheet on the floor of the green house, put planting bags with steamed soil on the polythene sheet and continue enjoying planting tomatoes.

  • Paul says:

    Yes it is here bacteria wilt , nasty I do not know what to do about it however I will try drenching the bed with molases +water and putting a clear plastic cover over the bed during the summer months . A dig over and more water each two or three weeks . Perhaps some lime will be helpfull also .
    Will this fix the problem , I am not sure , anything is worth a go. Summers here in CQ Qld get very hot

  • DIPAK says:

    We are know that don’t have particular chemical to control Tomato Bacterial wilt Disease… But if you wnt to control this disease… First time checked field PH.. (Mandatory 6.2-6.5 ph) , seed Treat With Trichoderma viride and Pseudomonas.. Dose 5gm/per liter… And seed bed treat with same fungicides…. 1kg Trichoderma and pseudomonas mix with 20 kg FYM and keep the seven days in shade and cool place… Mix with the soil of main land before transplanting…. Before transplanting nursery treat with Trichoderma and pseudomonas 5gm(2.5+2.5) with 1liter of water..and stay on 30 minute…. Important notice.. If you are follow completely this process..then not used chemical fertilizer on transplanting time… Use only FYM AND Fermi composed

  • DIPAK says:

    We are know that don’t have particular chemical to control Tomato Bacterial wilt Disease… But if you want to control wilt disease… First time checked field PH.. (Mandatory 6.2-6.5 ph) , seed Treat With Trichoderma viride and Pseudomonas.. Dose 5gm/per liter… And seed bed treat with same fungicides…. 1kg Trichoderma and pseudomonas mix with 20 kg FYM and keep the seven days in shade and cool place… Mix with the soil of main land before transplanting…. Before transplanting nursery root treat with Trichoderma and pseudomonas 5gm(2.5+2.5) with 1liter of water..and stay on 30 minute…. Important notice.. If you are follow completely this process..then not used chemical fertilizer on transplanting time… Use only FYM AND vermi composed

  • sandy oneill says:

    For years I have planted a few container tomato plants on my enclosed patio. Last year after growing huge they started turning black and wilting.No spots, no mold, that I could see. Tried new dirt and plants and pots,same thing. This year I tried again and the same thing. Can I be getting a fungus 10 floors up.Nothing else died like my herbs. Everyone loved my tomatoes and me too. Now it appears I can’t grow them as this stuff is in a the air? Store bough are just not the same someone help me if you can please.

  • Enoch Mpande says:

    We have bacterial wilt in our garden, are there any chemicals we can use to drench the soil?

  • Anonymous says:

    Am a young farmer and the main problem is bacterial wilt I planted two weeks ago my soil was tested a disease free and after 2 wks I started experiencing problem in my farm I noticed it was a bacterial wilt what can I do I use borehole water

  • steyn says:

    Farayi what of world are you

  • naazreen says:

    hello nooranee, im mauritian as well, can you please explain to me the lime spraying. where to get the lime powder? raising the PH of the soil wont make the wilt spred faster?

  • Herbert Lee Smith says:

    I too have fallen victim to this Bacterial wilt disease. We have a 30’X 30′ garden spot we have been planting since 1974. Last years garden was so-so. I decided to amend the soil. I brought in a large trailer load of ” CITY DUMP COMPOST”. I also added some bagged Black Cow manure and some bagged top soil.
    Results so far: Celebrity tomatoes look great. German Johnson’s look normal.
    Squash has failed with the wilt. Some of the Okra has been lost. Some of the Peppers look Suspect. Is it safe to eat this produce this year or any other year or do we need to destroy everything and plant clover?

    Thanks for you’re reply.


  • Aasha says:

    It is big problems .

  • michael amare says:

    hay , i am workin on humera farming serivce center at tigray ethiopian by the owener of desta berha wule in the case of bacterial and fusarium wilt disease they highly creates commonaly in the rain season epesialy at tropical area but there is no effective chemicals to control them. the main adivce to the grower of tomato it is better to use of resitance variaties and seed treatment agro-chemicals

  • David Ekunola. says:

    Soil sterilization is a good measure to clean your soil of the infection

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