Why Do My Tomato Leaves Look Burnt? + [What To Do]

Why Do My Tomato Leaves Look Burnt

Did you intend to grow healthy tomato plants, but have noticed the leaves look burnt? It can be challenging to find your tomatoes starting to wither. Luckily, this has happened to many other gardeners, and it’s fixable!

You could be asking yourself, why do my tomato leaves look burnt?

The tomato leaves could be absorbing too much direct sunlight. Remember that over-exposure to intense sunlight causes leaf sunburn. When tomato leaves get sunburned, they turn yellowish-brown or black and look withered. However, your sunburned tomato plants will recover. 

Try moving the plant to a shadier spot and water the plant regularly.

Here are tips to help you address this and more.

Also Check: Will Frost Kill My Tomato Plants?

What Makes Tomato Leaves Look Burnt?

Too much sunlight on your tomato may cause the leaves to look burnt. During sunny and hot weather, the stem and leaves lose water faster. Remember, a healthy tomato plant should absorb water more quickly than it loses it. Under extreme heat, tomato leaves will look burnt, and the plant will mostly die.  

When tomato plants get direct sunlight for long periods, the leaves will turn brown or black and may eventually fall off the plant. In severe cases, the leaves can even curl up and die. Many times, this results from excessive sunlight or transplant shock.

Your tomato plant should recover from transplant shock within a week.

However, recently planted seedlings need time to adjust to outdoor conditions. When exposed to direct sunlight for some time, a few leaves at the bottom may turn yellow. It should be no cause of alarm as your plant will eventually adjust and grow healthy.

What Do Sunburned Tomato Leaves Look Like?

Sunburned tomato leaves usually manifest as brown or yellow leaves. The leaves could show streaks of dark green or brown leaf tissue with scorched edges. You may notice that the sunburnt edges extend from the top to the bottom of the leaf blade. Brown patches on the underside of leaves are also an indication of sunburn.

Other signs that tomato plants are getting too much sunlight include yellowing between the veins of leaves and blisters on the skin. Sunburned tomato leaves appear brown with scars, and some spots will peel off. When wet, the blotches will be darker than when dry.

Therefore, note if you see some black or brown patches growing on your tomato leaves. It is one sign of sunburn on your plants. Moreover, sunburns on tomato leaves could result in temporal wilting, especially during hot weather. So, if your tomato leaves look burnt, check further to see if you get a blister or two on the leaves.

Plus, tomato leaves are susceptible to sun damage. It usually happens shortly after planting during sunny weather. While fertilizer overuse could scorch tomato leaves, exposure to intense sunlight may cause your tomato leaves to look burnt.

Will Sunburned Tomato Plants Recover?

Yes, in most cases, the sunburned tomato plant will recover and produce tomatoes. With some extra care, your tomato plant should heal in no time! Unless the sunburn is severe, the leaves will ultimately survive, and your tomato plants will thrive.

Are you still wondering why your tomato leaves look burnt? Worry no more. Young tomato plants are more susceptible to sunburns. While some varieties are more prone to sunburn than others, sunburns are rarely detrimental to tomato plants. 

So, ensure that the tomato plants are watered correctly and cushioned from direct sunlight.

Avoiding pruning too many leaves will, in return, help sunburned leaves recover quickly. If your tomato plant has hardened off, more leaves grow faster than sunburned ones. The good thing is that this process will take about 2-3 weeks. That’s not too long. Right?

Giving sunburned tomato plants all the support they need is, therefore, vital. As long as you’re taking these precautions, there’s no reason why sunburned tomato plants can’t recover beautifully.

How Do You Fix Brown Leaves On Tomato Plants?

Move the tomato plant away from sunny windows or direct sunlight to prevent further sunburn on the leaves. Consider also increasing watering frequency by at least one daily for 7 days.  

Since tomatoes are warm weather crops, they require optimum sunlight for fruit production. Tomatoes will need about six to eight hours of sunlight a day. During sunny seasons, the intensity and duration of the sun could be much higher, making your tomato leaves look burnt.       

If, however, you’re transplanting tomato plants, move them outside only when night temperatures remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant them on the north side of buildings where they’ll get some morning light but not too much in the afternoon.

You can also rotate crops, so tomatoes don’t always face southwest during the hottest part of the day. Mulch around plants with straw or pine needles to help keep the soil moist and provide some relief from intense sunlight.

Besides, to prevent sunburn, you can shield your plants with shade cloths or trellises. Furthermore, you can choose early varieties with more heat and intense sunlight tolerance.

Should I Remove Brown Leaves From The Tomato Plant?

Even if tomato leaves look burnt, try not to remove them quickly from your plant. It would be best to leave the yellowish-brown leaves intact for a while. Why? Despite their brown color, these leaves are vital for photosynthesis. We’ve learned that healthy tomato plant leaves have medium-green leaves which curl upwards. This upward curling helps tomato leaves to conserve water. 

If your tomato plants are withering, your goal number one would be to save the plant. Removing brown leaves at once could be counter-productive. It would slow the plant’s recovery journey.

Instead, consider shielding the tomato plants from direct sunlight. You could achieve this by filtering the sunlight using a cloth shade. Additionally, expose the withering brown leaves to the rising sun and shelter them from the hot sun later in the day. Eventually, most of the brown leaves should recover. 

A few of the overly sunburned leaves may die and drop off. Should it happen, relax as this is normal for tomatoes to shed off drier leaves. Nevertheless, if the brown tomato leaves are drying off with pests or diseases, it is okay to remove them. Removing infected leaves would help stop spreading the disease to the rest of your tomato plant.

Can Tomato Plants Have Too Much Sun?

Yes, tomato plants can have too much sun. But, six hours of sunlight is enough for tomatoes to grow, although most varieties do well with up to eight hours. Tomatoes placed under excess direct sun, significantly beyond eight hours, start to look yellow and then turn brown and crispy. Such is known as sunscald. The leaves devise this way of protecting the plant from further damage.

If you’ve ever been outside on a hot, sunny day without sunscreen, you know what it feels like to get a sunburn. Your skin turns red and feels hot to the touch. You might even get a blister or two. Similarly, tomatoes grow best with temperatures ranging from 21 to 24°C. Conversely, the leaves would turn yellow-brown and look pale due to too much sun.

If you see sunburned tomato leaves, give the plant some shade and water it regularly. Sunburnt tomato leaves typically mean that your plant needs more moisture or less fertilizer because they’re trying to protect themselves by drying out. Watch out for brown patches on the lower leaves.

An excellent way to tell if your plant is growing healthy is by checking if the tomato leaves look burnt. If there are signs of light spots on tomato leaves, they’ve been absorbing too much sun.  


How Hot Is Too Hot For Tomato Plants?

Tomatoes grow and produce fruits well under temperatures ranging from 20°C to 24°C (68 to 75.2°F). While tomatoes would still grow under 13.5°C at night, daytime temperatures should remain above 15°C. 

Fruit production reduces if temperatures fall below 15°C for more than one week due to stunted growth.

Why Are My Plant Leaves Turning Brown And Crispy?

Sunburn or underwatering typically causes the browning of leaves. The leaves could also feel crunchy at the tips. When soil moisture reduces, the leaves could start to wither and turn brown. 

The same happens when your plant stays for long under too much direct sunlight.

Should You Water Tomatoes Every Day In Hot Weather?

Be keen not to overwater tomatoes during summer weather. It’s good farm practice to water tomatoes in the morning on alternate days. Watering your tomatoes daily in hot weather could suffocate the roots. To save your crop, you want to avoid damaged or rotten roots.


Whether you’re a veteran gardener or not, you may find it challenging whenever your tomato leaves look burnt. The leaves change from a natural green color to yellowish or brown. Fortunately, these leaves usually recover when well shielded.

To prevent tomato leaves from too much sunlight, use a shade and try watering the plant frequently in the morning. Most importantly, do not immediately remove the sunburned leaves since this could further weaken the plant.

Instead, expose the tomato plants to sunlight for not more than eight hours. It will help the plants grow healthier and yield higher. I hope sunburns won’t stop you from enjoying a bountiful tomato harvest.