What's Shoestringing in Tomato Plants?

Whether you hear mention of “shoestringing” tomato issues from gardening friends or notice the leaves of your tomatoes have chosen on a shoestring look, your plants are probably experiencing a potentially serious disease. Become familiar with disease types and ways to stop shoestring troubles, and put a control program set up immediately if these symptoms occur.

Preventive Care

Provide the perfect care for your tomatoes since well-maintained plants have a greater capacity for avoiding and recovering from disease compared with neglected plants. Tomatoes thrive in areas of the backyard with complete sun. Having a taste for well-drained soil, rich in organic material, tomatoes function best in conditions with a slightly acid pH near 6.5. Tomatoes can handle a pH selection of 5.5 to 6.8 but may also endure in moist conditions.

Cucumber Mosaic Virus

Cucumber mosaic virus, or CMV, may lead to leaves that resemble shoestrings. As the name suggests, leaf frequently requires on a mosaic-like pattern in tones of green and yellow. Tomato plants may be stunted and look “bushy.” The disease typically reduces fruit size and yield. CMV spreads to tomato plants through aphids, miniature sap-sucking insects which transmit the disease from one plant to the next as they feed. There are no effective cures, chemical or natural, for CMV. Remove and destroy all weeds near tomatoes to lessen potential host plants for aphids. Placing reflective mulch, like silver-hued mulch, beneath strawberries may discourage aphids and inhibit disease transmission. Remove and destroy infected tomato plants after treating healthy tomato plants with an insecticide. Insecticides, like neem oil or insecticidal soap, kill aphids on contact.

Tobacco Mosaic Virus

Tobacco mosaic virus also leads to the appearance of shoestringlike foliage on tomatoes. Other symptoms include areas of perishing plant tissue on fruit and a mosaic pattern on leaves, which might become slim and “fern-like.” Fruit often forms badly and yield is reduced. TMV occurs with most popularity in cool temperatures and also is spread through mechanical means. The virus enters plants through wounds, frequently transmitted by the hands of someone who has just touched an infected tomato, as opposed to by insect pests. Manage tomatoes delicately to stop wound trauma and maintain sanitary conditions, since there are no effective cures.


When there are no recommended resistant tomato varieties for CMV, developments are ongoing to make immune options, explains the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program. Consider removing and destroying tomatoes influenced by TMV and replacing them with resistant cultivars. TMV-resistant cultivars include, “Sweet Million,” a little tomato and the large fruit cultivars “Big Potato,” “Carmello” and “Celebrity.”

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