You lovingly start tomatoes from seeds. You tend to the plants carefully transplanting them on. You check every day and pinch out the suckers. Then you notice the leaves are curling up? You did everything but now this!! What is wrong, is this a sign of disease? Did you do something wrong? Why are my tomato plant leaves curling up? Don’t panic in this article I will cover everything you need to know. First we will look at how to identify tomato leaf curl. Then we will go into how to treat tomato leaf curl.
What Causes Tomato Plant Leaves To Curl?
As with yellowing tomato leaves, this curling is a sign that something is wrong. The leaves curling is a sign that the tomato plant is in distress. But the good news is you have caught it early and now is the time to act.
Don’t ignore leaves curling up or down as this is a sign the plant is in distress.
Let’s move on and look at how to identify tomato plant leaves curling with pictures. If you have a similar problem please let me know and send a picture.
What Does Tomato Plant Leaf Curling Look Like?
I spotted this leaf curl in my allotment greenhouse. As you can see the lower leaves are starting to curl upwards but just on this one plant.
It’s also common for leaves to curl downwards as seen here.
Ok so now we have identified what leaf curl is it’s time to look for the possible cause and treatment.
Does The Direction Of Curl Matter?
If the leaves curl down then this may indicate root rot. Leaves curl down to prevent further uptake of water if this is the case try reducing the frequency of watering. Look and review the fixes below in addition to this. It’s more common to see tomato plant leaves curling up. This is a sign of stress let’s now look at how to fix tomato leaves curling.
How To Fix Tomato Leaf Curl
The thing is tomato plants are fussy. Not enough water or too much water and they will let you know. The good news is that leaf curl is the tomato plants way of telling you that something is wrong. Too much fertiliser/heat/humidity or too little etc. You will need to tweak a few things to find out what works. Let’s look at the causes of tomato plant leaves curling and how to treat tomato leaf curl.
Look at the position of the plant and the impact the environment has. If the plant is outside has the weather changed recently or have there cold or hot spells. These changes in weather can cause the plant stress.
What is the position of the plant? is it overcrowded with other tomato plants or companion plants? Consider spacing the tomato plants 24″ apart to allow adequate ventilation.
One thing I get emailed a lot about is tomato leaf curl. And it’s nearly always environment or stress. A common issue is people start their tomato seeds indoors and then move them outside. This simple transition even in good weather can shock the tomatoes. What is important to do is harden the tomatoes by progressively introducing them to a new environment. I will follow up with an article on this very important process.
What is the watering schedule like has recent environmental changes like rain caused the plant to take on too much water? Has the plant been watered enough? A little water multiple times a day is better than over-watering once on very hot days. Are you using a drip feeder to water and is it set up correctly.
Look for other signs of disease like yellow leaves. Check the leaves and fruit for signs then look to fix issues. There is also a virus called tomato leaf curls. Lets look at this next specifically.
Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus
Your plants may have this virus if it displays the following symptoms:
- Stunted Growth – bushy appearance
- Flowers Don’t Develop and Form Fruit
- Leaves Curl AND Go Yellow
If you do have the Yellow Leaf Curl Virus then it may be best to destroy the plant than let it spread to others. But most of all don’t worry if your tomato plant leaves are curling. Try all of the above methods before destroying the plan. I am a believing that a plant should not be destroyed if its still showing positive signs of growth.
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Do I Need To Destroy The Plant?
I will usually never give up on a tomato plant as long as it’s still growing and has healthy fruit. If you have other signs of diseases then just isolate the plant.
If it’s dry crispy and has not fruit or signs of life… Yeah sorry for your loss and get rid of it. If it’s diseased then don’t compost it. Consider burning it or putting it in the garden waste bin.
Yellow Leaves On Tomato Plants In Containers
It’s more common to see tomato plant leaves curling when the tomato plants are in containers. This is mainly down to the following reasons:
- Insufficiently Sized Container – Look to re-locate to larger sized 1to 2 square feet.
- Inconsistent watering – Containers dry out more easily so review your watering schedule and consider drip feeding
- Soil Quality – The soil quality may not be enough, consider mulching with organic matter like kitchen compost
- Nutrients – As well as the above, make sure you are feeding on schedule. This is important with tomatoes in containers because nutrients can easily escape.
Preventing Tomato Leaf Curling
There are steps you can take to prevent the risk of leaf curl. Some things you have to accept are largely outside of your control such as the weather and environmental conditions.
- Plant Disease Resistant Varieties
- Regular Consistent Care – watering, feeding
- Correct Pruning
- Correct Plant Spacing
- Consider other plants
Another preventive measure to consider is companion planting. The types of plant you grow with Tomatoes can help prevent diseases and even improve the flavour of your tomatoes.
I hope this article has helped you find out why your tomato plant leaves are curling. This is a common symptom of the sensitive tomato plant being stressed so don’t panic it may simply grow out of it (see what I did there). I always enjoy hearing people tomato plant problems and I am passionate about helping people. Please feel free to contact me and send me your problems or success stories!
So remember if you spot tomato plant leaves curling:
- Don’t Panic – it’s not a major problem
- Go through the list of possible issues
- Start making small changes and review every week
Reach out via email or in the comments if you have a question. I enjoy helping to solve problems and would like to share your stories with other readers. Please include a picture so I can help you to solve this problem.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are Tomato Plant Leaves Curling Up?
Leaves curling up is a sign of stress either from the environment or physiological. The root cause is often unclear but look at recent changes in damage, fertilizer methods, temperature, pruning or damage.
What Are The Signs Of Overwatering Tomato Plants?
Look for cracked fruit this is the first sign as well as yellow leaves at the base of the plant. Adjust watering and this should get better.