Is it normal for tomato plants to die in August?

I’ve planted cherry tomatoes in pots for many years. They do great until early August and stop producing. They get very distressed and slowly die.

I thought maybe it was the limited amount of sunlight that hits my deck. I get too much shade and it limits how many tomatoes are produced.

I planted 4 pots at my mom’s new house. She gets more direct sunlight on her deck. We got a lot of cherry tomatoes this summer. I’d guess at least 60 in June and July. But, the tomatoes stopped in early August and the plants are dying.


Is this normal? Do tomatoes in the ground do this too?

Would fertilizer every week help?

Broadly, yes, the plants may well have reached the end of their lifespan:

The articles are helpful. Thank you

I didn’t know if I’ve been screwing up or if it’s normal to lose tomatoes in late summer.

We’ve had an unusually wet summer and it’s caused some of our tomatoes to split before ripening. That’s always discouraging. Cherry tomatoes are so small. You can’t cut away the bad area. They just go down the garbage disposal.

Where you at? I’m in Michigan and my regular tomato plants go to October I think.


I’m in Arkansas. Definitely not cool here in August. Fall doesn’t start until late September.

Here’s a link about splitting tomatoes. We had a trouble with splitting this summer. It started about the middle of July. We got hammered with rain. Very unusual weather.

I hit 'em with Miracle Gro once a week for the first month, then Mater Magic every other week until round 1 is over (about now), then another shot of Miracle Gro to inspire some new flowers. I’m about 50/50 for a late summer/early fall harvest. But yeah, the plants get tired and the soil gets spent.

Do your tomato plants start getting brown spots on the leaves that eventually cause the entire leaf to turn yellow- starting at the bottom of the plant and working its way up? Then you might have a fungal disease called Early Blight. Despite the “early” part of the name, my plants start out fine, but start to succumb in August, and by now they look pretty sickly. The tomatoes are fine to eat, the disease just kills the plants prematurely.

There are sprays for it, but they never seem to help much. The fungus overwinters and is hard to eradicate. I solarized my garden area one summer (spread clear plastic to heat with sun and kill everything in the ground) but next summer it was back :mad:

Solost you might consider planting in pots. I use fresh potting mix every year. I use the premium potting mix with moisture control and fertilizer in it.

Or you could make a raised bed container.

I guess throughly cleaning the pots might eliminate any residual brown spot fungus before planting.

I will try weekly fertilizer next year. See if I can increase my yield.

How long tomato plants remain healthy and producing is dependent on variety, climate, disease, bugs and growing conditions.

Plants in pots/tubs gradually become rootbound and this may result in decline.

My tubbed plants are often less productive by September, which is why I like to have newer plants coming along by then.

Some tomatoes are determinate, meaning they tend to produce larger crops within a short time span and then stop growing/deteriorate.

It’s a normal thing for tomatoes to die in August in Arkansas. My plants stated dying in late July. We had a good harvest and got enough tomatoes to share. So I was pleased. But, yeah August die-off is standard.around these parts.

Not the end of their natural lifespan, though. Tomatoes are perennials being killed in less than a year by being grown outside their native habitat. What is “normal” from a tomato’s POV is to grow and produce fruit for multiple years.

It’s not uncommon around here-typically the early blight gets them, and they quit bearing fruit when it gets hot enough. So essentially what you end up with is typically growing early season tomatoes from March/April through June, and then taking them out and planting new ones in July/August for harvest around October/early November.

Occasionally if they don’t get early blight, they’ll look sad and not have any tomatoes until September when it cools off and starts raining more often, and they’ll burst forth with a bunch of leaves and blooms, and we end up harvesting a bunch of full sized, but green tomatoes right before the first freeze in late November.

There are two types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate plants grow to a certain size, set fruit, and then stop growing and producing new flowers. They usually die after producing their crops. Indeterminate plants keep growing throughout the season and continue to produce flowers and fruit as they grow. Many bush tomato plants (suitable for growing in pots) are determinate. It’s possible that you’ve been planting determinate varieties. Determinate plants produce flowers at the very ends of the branches, while indeterminate plants have their flowers growing off to the sides of the branches.

Another possibility is plant diseases. Most modern hybrids are bred to resist disease, but many of the older heirloom varieties are not. One way to prevent disease is to use fresh potting soil.

It could also be malnutrition. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, and particularly need a lot of calcium. Have you been using a plant food designed for tomatoes?

How big are the pots? Is it possible the plants are getting root-bound?

Around here, they’re only just starting to yield. Which means that I can finally have the yummy tomatoes I’ve been waiting most of a year for.