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Although easy to grow and very rewarding, tomatoes can suffer from a range of problems with their stems, from the lumps and bumps of root initials to more serious stem rots caused by a variety of diseases.
Verticillium wilt on tomato. Credit: RHS/Pathology.
Tomato stems occasionally show rots and distortions due to adverse growing conditions and/or diseases.
Potato and tomato blightVerticillium wiltSclerotinia diseaseGrey mould
Root initials on the stems are encouraged by humid conditions. Root formation on the stems also seems more common when plants are under stress. Hormone weedkiller contamination promotes stem root formation, but the additional effects of this contamination on the foliage are more dramatic and are usually noticed first.
For details of the biology of tomato stem diseases, please see the specific pages on these diseases.
Potato and tomato blightVerticillium wiltSclerotinia diseaseGrey mouldWeedkiller damage
Root initials are not very significant, but they might indicate that fine-tuning of cultivation, especially watering methods might be needed. Keeping the stems and foliage dry when watering should remedy the problem, and will also help to prevent tomato blight.
Diseases that affect the stem usually persist in the soil. Changing to a system of growing in grow-bags or in pots will prevent these diseases. There are no soil fungicides or soil sterilisers available to home gardeners. Removal and destruction of all infected material is also a wise precaution.
Tomatoes: fruit ripening problemsTomatoes: leaf problemsTomatoes: fruit splitting and crackingBlossom end rotTomato virusesPotato and tomato blightTomatoes
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