Tomato Plant Deterioration

Asked July 31, 2017, 8:34 PM EDT

I have a tomato plant (not sure of the variety) growing in a Clay pot in a mostly sunny location - when it started to grow it was healthy and bore numerous blossoms and tomatoes. I fertilized it with Miracle Grow. The first tomato had a black bottom - none of the others have this. Something is nibbling on the green tomatoes and eating the leaves as you can see on the enclosed pictures. Also around the pot on the ground there are black "droppings". I have not observed any insects until today when I noticed a single web and a very small black worm like insect - I can't imagine that would produce all the black excrement, but then I don't know what would. The tomatoes are very hard and even the one or two that I took inside to ripen stay very hard. It's very strange. I hope you can figure it out. Thank you!

Kent County Maryland

1 Response

We are so glad you asked!
The black droppings, stripped leaves and tomatoes with bites missing are very indicative of the tomato hornworm. They are large, but can be very hard to see as they blend in so well.
Here is a page about them: You can either pick it/them off, or if they have white, rice-like cocoons on backs, leave them in place as their days are numbered because a beneficial insect is parasitizing them. (layed eggs in the worm, which hatch, then eat their way out.)

The brown end on the first tomato is also common and called Blossom End Rot. It is a physiologic problem related to lack of calcium and ability to take up enough water.
Take a look in this publication for more about that: