When you are focused on growing the perfect tomatoes, it’s rather upsetting to see holes appear in the tomato leaves.
What will happen to the fruit once they appear if your tomato plant has holes in the leaves?
Here are the likely culprits and possible solutions to help protect your precious tomato harvest.
Small Holes in Tomato Leaves
The usual causes for tomato plants to have holes in their leaves are insects like aphids, slugs, and worms. Fungi and bacterial infections such as blight also cause leaf cells to die and fall out, creating holes. Overwatering and acidic water may also cause holes to form in the leaves.
5 Culprits and Solutions for Small Holes in Tomato Leaves
Considering what is causing the holes in your tomato plant, will require that you find the culprit in the act or go through all the alternatives until you find one that best fits what’s happening to your plant.
Once you know what is causing the holes in the tomato leaves, you can apply the correct solution.
1. Bacterial Infection
When your tomato plant has a bacterial infection, you may notice yellowing of the leaves. These yellow leaves often form holes that are made up of dead tissue that will drop out, creating the holes.
The culprit for bacterial infection of tomato plants is usually Xanthomonas campestris pv. Vesicatoria, which is a black spot causing bacteria (also known as blight).
A tomato plant with black spots will suffer rot in the affected area, causing a hole to develop in the leaves.
In severe cases, there is little that can be done to save the plant, and the bacteria will infect the ground, placing future tomato plant crops at risk.
Spray infected crops with copper-infused antibacterial solutions.
If the plant has severe holes with signs of a black edge, it may come down to a triage situation where the most infected crops need to be sacrificed to allow fewer infected crops a chance at recovery.
Aphids are some of the most destructive insects that feast on crops like leafy green tomato plants. When aphids feast on a tomato leaf, the result may be a small hole forming.
The reason for this is that the aphids destroy the cell integrity, which leads to the plant leaf collapsing at the feeding site, making a hole.
Spray a tomato plant that’s been infested with white or light gray colored aphids with a weak soapy water solution.
Alternatively, spray your tomato plant with neem oil to remove the aphids, though beware of doing this during the hottest part of the day to avoid sunlight burning the oil, which can cause spots on the tomato leaves.
What may start as a small hole can quickly become a ragged-shaped hole if it’s caused by a slug.
Like snails (but without the shell), slugs love munching on leafy greens. Other signs of their presence include a slimy residue or track on the leaves.
Try to hand pick the slugs, discard them, and prevent more from being drawn to the tomato plant by laying a barrier line of diatomaceous earth (Fuller’s Earth or DE).
The diatoms of the natural powder will act as a repellent, dry out any slugs that try to cross, and discourage further slug invasions.
Several species of worms will take a bite of a juicy tomato leaf and the fruit too.
Worms are sneaky pests, and while you may pick off a few, more hide in the stems and fruit of the plant. Many worm species such as brown fruitworms tunnel into the leaves, fruit, and stems.
Worm waste also leads to rot, and a plague can quickly start since each worm can lay many eggs on the underside of leaves. These eggs hatch when ready in 14-21 days and deliver a new generation of leaf-eating pests.
There are various ways for you to treat a worm infestation. Attracting natural predatory insects and birds to your tomato garden is an excellent natural method.
By planting marigolds and other flowering plants, predatory wasps will be drawn to your garden, where they will take care of the worms in a flash.
5. Environmental Factors
Environmental factors like overwatering and splashing water on the tomato leaves can create the right conditions for leaf rot and damage from hard water.
Hard water splashes can lead to drying out the leaf surface and creating dead tissue spots that dry and fall from the leaf, leaving holes in the leaf surface.
The presence of nearby plants that are favorites of parasitic organisms can lead to more infestations that can cause holes in the leaf surface.
Since worms eat corn plants, it’s best to avoid planting tomatoes and corn in the same vegetable patch.
Avoid splashing water on the tomato leaves and water the roots instead.
Install a water filter to remove limestone deposits that can damage the leaves.
Plant a hardy companion plant that isn’t susceptible to insect damage and use interspersed rows to control the insect damage.
Frequently Asked Questions about Small Holes in Tomato Leaves
What are the major pests that infect tomato plants?
Aphids, leaf miners, spider mites, and different beetles are the major troublemakers for tomato plants. When there is an infestation, their feeding habits will reduce the structural integrity of the leaves, resulting in small holes forming.
What can I do about insects that eat holes in my tomato plant’s leaves?
Depending on the pest that’s eating your tomato leaves, you can use simple home remedies like spraying the plant leaves with weak soapy water, homeopathic remedies like spraying with neem oil or attracting beneficial parasitic insects to control pests.
Why can’t I spray water on my tomato plants when watering them?
Tomato plants should receive root watering. Spraying with water will result in water clinging to the leaves, which soon creates an environment ripe for a bacterial infection. Likewise, water droplets on tomato leaves can burn the leaf structure when exposed to direct and intense sunlight.
Conclusion On Small Holes in Tomato Leaves
Small holes in tomato leaves are caused by:
- Insects such as aphids, slugs, and worms
- Fungi and bacterial infections such as blight
- Acidic water