Tomato leaves curling is an issue that can cause healthy plants to become distressed. Whether this is your first time dealing with tomato leaf curls or it’s something you experience every year, the information in this article should help.

Leaves Curling on Tomato Plants

We will discuss the main causes of tomato leaves curling, so keep reading to know the typical symptoms associated with each issue and walk you through simple solutions for restoring your tomato plant of the Solanaceae family back to its best health.

What Are the Reasons for Curled Leaves on Tomatoes?

The reasons for having curled tomato leaves is due to nutrient deficiencies, fluctuating temperature changes, incorrect watering, pruning stress, or herbicide residue. In addition to broad mites, viral diseases, and transplanting shock. 

While it may seem strange, curling tomato leaves can be an indication of something going wrong in your garden. Good tomato plant maintenance is essential for producing healthy, tasty fruits; as this issue occurs, you must be mindful because it indicates the plant is under stress. 

Pay close attention to the curled leaves to get clues as to what action might be necessary to remedy the situation – are they yellowing and brittle or still green? Are they drooping? Answering these questions along with learning the causes of curling will help shape the best plan of action to save your tomatoes and ensure a successful harvest.

– Incorrect Watering

If there’s one thing these plants are fussy about, it’s the water intake. Too much water can cause the leaves to curl up and wilt; on the other hand, if you notice that they don’t have enough water, that can also cause them to become dry, purplish-brown, and curl inwards. 

Reasons for Curled Leaves on Tomatoes

The simple reason is that overwatering can transport too much nitrogen into the plant’s system, resulting in foliage growth at the expense of fruit production. Meanwhile, when you are watering it way less, it can also lead to a lack of fruit as a result of weak stems and poor root development. 

If your plants look like they’re struggling, check how much water you’ve been giving them – it might be time for some adjustments. This would also be obvious from the color of the curled leaves, as they would show you the change through the yellowing, and you would clearly understand that it is from excess irrigation. 

– Too Much Heat

The leaves on a tomato plant that’s exposed to prolonged periods of extreme temperatures, which is when it is above the 85 Fahrenheit mark, the crops will naturally begin to curl up to reduce their surface area, which helps protect them from the excessive heat. They are now going through stress due to the heat, and the leaves are drying up, almost. 

On top of this, wilting and stunted growth may also be signs that your tomato plants are experiencing too much heat. So if you want to keep your tomatoes healthy and happy, be sure to keep an eye on the temperature and take steps to reduce it when necessary.

– Nutrient Imbalance

The excessive nitrogen in the soil is likely to cause excessive growth and uneven development of the leaves, leading to wilting or curling of the edges. An abundance of nitrogen can also interfere with other nutrients, such as phosphorus and potassium.

Foliar analysis or a soil test may be needed to analyze nutrient levels and ensure that plants get all their required minerals to stay healthy. Usually, this problem resolves on its own, but it may interfere with the year’s fruit production.

– Pruning Stress

Pruning more than 20 to 25 percent of the foliage on the plant is considered excessive. It can put undue stress on the plant’s root system, affecting the number of nutrients and water getting delivered to the leaves through the stem, both of which can contribute to the curling of the leaves.

Essentially, the plant becomes too confused and too shocked about the season it’s in because this is when you’re both telling it to grow and at the same time, reducing its ability to function, as you have pruned it excessively. Ultimately, you should be careful when it comes to excessive pruning of a tomato plant as it will likely result in both short-term and long-term harm to a healthy crop.

– Herbicide Residue

The curling symptoms may be indicative of herbicide splashes, residue, or herbicide drift problems. When a herbicide is used in a nearby area and then gets carried to your vegetable garden, in the air, rain, or splashing water, it can impact the health of your tomatoes.

Regularly check for weed killers on your plants to be sure this isn’t the cause of the curling leaves. If it is, flush the soil with copious amounts of uncontaminated water; you may need to do this multiple times until contaminants are removed or moved deeply away from plant roots. These effects might be felt weeks later, giving the impression of a sudden attack; in reality, however, the issue is long-standing.

It is best if you check and try to identify what kind of herbicides might be present and consider solutions such as crop rotation and proper application techniques to avoid further exposure. Also, consider raising the pH level around affected plants and mulching after rains to reduce the chances of insect drift.

– Broad Mites

These are tiny creepy crawlies that many gardeners have to deal with, and they can cause your leaves to curl. They multiply quickly and feed on the plant’s sap, introducing toxins to the plant, and weakening it significantly over time. 

You may even begin to notice silvery or pearly discolorations on the surface of the leaf before curling begins. If you’ve discovered these mites in your garden, don’t panic; there are a few simple solutions to remedy the problem.

– Viral Diseases

Tomato mosaic virus and leaf curl virus are common viral diseases affecting your red fruit plants. Both are transmitted via sap-sucking insects and the symptoms of both include curling or distorted leaves with yellow mottling or spotted patterns, as well as plant stunting and flower dropping. It is not in its normal range of development, and now, these viruses are taking over and spreading slowly but surely. 

If left untreated, you will see the leaf-roll viruses and how they can cause considerable damage to plants. Fortunately, you can take steps to control their spread, such as implementing crop rotation techniques, avoiding overwatering, and purchasing disease-free seeds or plants.

– Transplanting Shock

Transplant shock can impact tomato plants too, leading to leaves curling up or dropping off. It usually occurs when the plant’s roots are disturbed – for example when you move it to a new pot or garden bed. To be sure this is the issue, check for wilted leaves and dry leaves some two to three weeks after replanting tomatoes.

What Are Solutions For Tomato Leaf Curling?

The solutions for tomato leaf curling are implementing proper watering habits, fertilizing them right, trying to prune them in the right way, and stalking.

Solutions for Tomato Leaf Curling

In addition to this, you could also use pesticides and fungicidal solutions on the vegetation to see them healthy again.  

– Proper Fertilization

Most curling issues can be addressed by ensuring the right soil moisture balance, regularly fertilizing the plants, and keeping your pests in check.

With these tips, you’ll be able to care for your curly tomato plants better and get them back to looking lush again in no time.

– Implement Proper Watering Habits

When it comes to your tomato, proper watering habits are key. To ensure optimal watering practices, try poking a finger down about two inches into its soil and feel around. If the soil feels dry and powdery, give it a good amount of water!

Once in a while, it may also be necessary to check the drainage system of your pots or garden bed to make sure nothing needs replacing. This way, you will know that you are not opening up a door for different fungicides to enter the plant’s maturation and slowly but surely, after you wait between watering sessions and the soil dries, the leaves will get back to normal. 

– Try Pruning and Staking

Pruning helps to keep the plant focused on its growth, allowing it to produce bigger and tastier tomatoes. By removing weak stems and branches, you can encourage the plant to focus on robust fruits. But don’t prune too often or too excessively; make sure that you do not clear out the leaves that are green and healthy; only go for the ones that are dead or unhealthy.

Staking also helps with fruit production as shaking or swaying in the wind can cause tomato fruits to become misshapen or damaged. Additionally, staking can keep your tomato plants from becoming too heavy for their stems and branches, allowing your leaves to breathe, improving their chances of not catching a disease, and avoiding herbicide damage and splashes.

– Utilize Pesticides and Fungicides

When it comes to combating diseases or pests that are plaguing your plants, a fungicide or pesticide can help. Making fungicides and pesticides can greatly protect your tomato plants from harsh environmental stress that could cause curling. 

Neem oil is a great natural choice as it effectively controls many pests and diseases without harming the environment. Simply mix neem oil with an adjuvant, like liquid soap, and water, as you create the solution to get the best results.

If the culprit is a fungus, using an anti-fungal solution made from garlic and chili pepper can be effective. Homemade fungicides and pesticides can require more maintenance because they don’t last very long, but they’re inexpensive to make and less harmful to the environment than store-bought products.

Environmental Factors Causes Curled Leaves


Tomato leaf curling can be a perplexing and oftentimes intimidating issue for gardeners of all experience levels, but with the right knowledge and strategies it can become much more manageable.

Here’s what we covered in this article: 

  • Understanding the causes behind this issue and symptoms to look out for can make all the difference when attempting to diagnose and solve the problem.
  • Oftentimes, environmental factors will be an issue, but sometimes it can all fall to how we take care of our plants.
  • To do your best, implement proper watering, prune and stake your plants and opt for natural, homemade fungi and pest killers.

Pursuing solutions suggested by this article can give you confidence in your ability to keep your tomato plants looking their best!

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