Tomato Plants Leaves Are Curling: 9 Reasons With Fixes

Tomatoes are one of the types of vegetables that are grown in the greatest quantity in home gardens. Most people who like to garden enjoy growing a wide range of plants in their own spaces.

If you have just noticed that the leaves on your tomato plant are curling, then you should not skip over these 9 possible causes so that you can get rid of the curling leaves. 

If you skip over these potential causes, then the leaves on your tomato plant will continue to curl.

If you choose to ignore these possible causes, the leaves on your tomato plant may continue to curl even if you take other preventative measures.

Why Are My Tomato Plants Leaves Curling?

The leaves of tomato plants may start to curl for a number of different reasons, including high temperatures, insufficient watering, pests, diseases, an excessive amount of fertilizers, transplanting, herbicide exposure, and excessive pruning.

1. Excess Temperature

The major element that causes underwatering is excessive heat. Although it could not entirely be the gardener’s responsibility, a lack of water is a major factor in this problem.

It may be difficult for tomatoes to adjust to the summer heat and increasing light exposure. It may sound unusual given that tomatoes are a sun-loving plant, but when the temperature consistently surpasses 85°F, the plants suffer from heat stress.

Increased heat speeds up the process through which a plant loses water from its leaves (stomatal transpiration). The leaves once again tuck inward to protect the plant from the sun and prevent further water loss.


To protect your plants from intense heat, you can employ a number of different strategies. You may fully expose your plants to the light in the early morning and late afternoon while shielding them from the heat by using shade fabric.

If the tomatoes are being grown in containers, it is much easier to move them to a more shady area.

You might decide to wait until the heat is no longer causing too much damage. As the temperatures start to fall, the leaves should return to their normal form.

2. Transplantation

In a tomato that has just been transferred, transplant shock is most likely the cause of leaf curl. Moving tomato roots to a new site poses the risk of damaging them since they are so sensitive. New gardeners frequently believe that “cutting up the roots” will promote healthy development.

Tomatoes are an exception to this rule. No matter how little, a crack or fracture in the root ball might still cause root damage. If this has happened, you will see wilting, yellowing leaves, and of course, leaf curl.

The plant shouldn’t be significantly affected by mild transplant shock, and it should recover with time and patience.

Trimming or using ineffective watering techniques might increase stress at this time and prevent your plant’s ability to recover.


Be gentle when transplanting. Since tomato roots are relatively sensitive, try to move them with as much care as you can.

Gently crack the nursery pot to loosen the dirt so you may securely remove the plant. Select the nearest stem to you and draw it.

Avoid touching the roots. Rather, completely bury the root ball, together with the stem’s lowest point and the root ball itself. After that, thoroughly saturate it, cover it with dirt, and gently place it.

Show patience. You should be nice to your baby tomato plant and allow it some time to recover if you see that it has already experienced transplant shock. Avoid putting your plant under any more stress until it has fully healed.

3. Excessive Fertilizer (Nitrogen)

The optimum fertilizer to use should be covered in a separate essay for each stage of tomato development.

The ideal fertilizers for tomatoes contain both macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium as well as micronutrients like magnesium, calcium, and zinc.

Numerous nutrients to take into account for the different growth stages of your tomatoes may seem overwhelming if you’re new to gardening.

It can be at first, but your tomato harvest will increase as you add more each year!

The following is a quick list of the macronutrients included in fertilizer:

The development of leaves is encouraged by nitrogen.

Fruit and roots both require phosphorus for growth and development.

Potassium is necessary for the plant to quickly bloom and produce fruit.

This list makes it clear that your tomatoes need certain macronutrients at various growth phases.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any evidence to suggest that a particular tomato fertilizer is ideal for all gardens at all stages of growth.

Let’s examine what transpires when tomatoes are exposed to excessive nitrogen over an extended period of time.

A balanced fertilizer is the best to use for growing tomatoes (or almost balanced). However, as the plant achieves maturity, starts flowering, and starts to produce fruit, it is advisable to use a fertilizer with more phosphate and potassium.

If you add too much nitrogen at this time, your plant may get very bushy and its leaves may even curl. Here’s why.

During the growth stage, if your soil has an excessive amount of nitrogen, your tomato plant will focus on developing new leaves.

There won’t be any major problems as a result, notwithstanding the possibility that the plant may get too bushy.

The plant is unclear of what to do with the extra nitrogen once it develops fruit, though. As a result, macronutrient absorption by leaves is still quite high.


Even while too much nitrogen could have undesirable effects, if you simply stop fertilizing, these problems will usually go away with time.

The accompanying leaf curl mainly changes the appearance of the plant and has little to no impact on the amount of fruit the plant produces. In this situation, educating yourself is the greatest thing you can do to aid your tomatoes.

Learn what your plants require at each stage of their growth (even if it takes multiple seasons). Because of your tomatoes, the region will eventually turn a brilliant green hue of hatred!

4. Pest

Tomato plants are a favorite food source for a variety of insects and pests. Pests that produce leaf curling, such as aphids, wide mites, whiteflies, pinworms, etc., commonly inflict harm through sap suckers.

These pests are present in any environment that is healthy, but they only become a problem when their populations become unmanageable.

Let’s talk about ways to lessen the amount of bugs that eat sap.


As with most of the causes of leaf curl in this article, prevention is the key to avoiding a pest infestation.

If you establish an environment that encourages biodiversity, predatory insects like ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps, and spiders will move into your garden.

They like eating the parasites that enjoy feasting on your tomatoes! Invite them in and assign them the difficult duties.

Companion planting can also help in the battle against pests. Different pests may be “trapped” by basil, marigolds, chives, nasturtiums, and other plants as well as scared away by them.

For instance, before they even get to your new tomato plants, aphids will congregate and consume older nasturtiums.

If you wish to attempt companion planting with these plants this year, make sure to sow these herbs and flowers a long time before your tomato plants. They must be significant enough to be felt.

Another efficient, albeit time-consuming, technique to get rid of bugs is through hand removal.

With a strong spray of water, pests like aphids and whiteflies may be rather readily pushed off stems and the underside of leaves.

If you identify the issue early enough, broad mites are tiny enough that you can easily remove infected leaves.

The secret is to spend time in your yard every day so you can see issues before they become emergencies.

If all else fails and you are unable to control the insect population, you might need to get rid of the diseased plant. If this occurs, do not compost it; instead, totally rid of it.

5. Disease

Several illnesses could cause the leaves of your tomato plants to curl. Two of the most common will be covered in this section.

It’s important to remember that plant viral infections are rarely treatable, and by the time you notice the symptoms on the outside, the plant is typically already dead.

If you’ve found that your tomato plant has a virus, get rid of it from your garden as soon as you can. Do not compost!

Malware from Darktop

If you see that the leaves of your tomato plant get thicker, twist, and curl, turning yellow with purplish veins, you most definitely have curly top virus. The lethal plant disease known as curly top virus may infect more than 300 different plant species, including tomatoes.

Leafhoppers that have previously eaten an infected plant transmit it. A single leafhopper can start to infect nearby plants in hot weather after just six hours of viral incubation.

A few extremely important negative impacts of the virus include food that tastes “wrong,” wrinkled or deformed fruit, and a delay in plant growth.

Your leaves will be twisted and discolored, which will be your first indication that you have the curly leaf virus. It’s awful to see your highly anticipated tomatoes deteriorate or acquire flaws. Let’s look at the answer to this problem.


Unfortunately, neither natural nor artificial remedies exist for plants infected with the virus, and insecticides are ineffective against leafhoppers. If your plant has already developed the disease, pulling it up and discarding it is the best course of action.

The curly leaf virus may be fought off most effectively by taking preventive measures. Plant healthy seedlings when you begin. From seed, tomatoes may be grown effectively and simply.

To purchase plants, visit a nearby nursery. They often have connections with producers, so they can vouch for the health of your plant. Big-box stores don’t always function in this way.

Thorough weeding of your garden, especially of Russian thistle and mustard weed, may help to reduce leafhopper populations. Eliminating the warm, overgrown, and weedy regions where they will spend the winter is a crucial first step on the right path.

Your greatest line of defense against leafhoppers eating your tomatoes is to cover them with netting or fine mesh.

By doing this, you will build a physical barrier that will keep animals from eating your plants and ingesting the virus, so stopping the disease’s spread to them.

With determinate tomatoes or indeterminates that have been topped, this task is made easy.

Tomato yellow leaf curl virus

The virus’s name, tomato yellow leaf curl, is a good representation of how the leaves act, becoming yellow at the borders and curling up.

Those afflicted by this virus essentially resemble a shallow bowl rather than curling completely inward like leaves affected by stress-related leaf curl.

Two other signs are spots on the foliage and a minor browning of the inside of fruits.

All of your tomato plants, as well as the nightshades in your garden, are susceptible to disease transmission by whiteflies.

The tomato yellow leaf curl virus will significantly impair the growth and fruit output of your tomato plants.


There is no known treatment for plants affected by the tomato yellow leaf curl virus, similar to the curly leaf virus. The best line of action is to remove the plant and treat it for whiteflies.

You can either introduce predatory insects like ladybugs or squirt a strong stream of water straight on the undersides of leaves to get rid of whiteflies.

If you have a substantial infestation of whiteflies, you can use horticultural oil to suffocate them at any stage of development. Perform this each week.

6. Improper watering

The primary cause of tomato leaf curl and other issues with your tomato plants is often insufficient irrigation.

Tomatoes are highly fussy about the amount of water they receive, despite the fact that they are thought to be reasonably easy to cultivate.

If you give the plant too little or too much, the roots will suffer, which will prevent it from growing. I think you realize what I mean. Actually, we want an irrigation system that is “just right.”

A plant in the ground typically requires two inches of water every week (more if your tomatoes are planted in containers).

However, external variables like wind, heat, humidity, and soil type may have an influence on that figure.

A water gauge can be used if you wish to be exact. As an alternative, think about raising a “indicator plant” nearby.

Impatiens are great indicator plants since they wilt quickly when they don’t get enough water, especially if your tomatoes are in full flower and are casting a shadow over them.

Water is a must for both your impatiens and tomatoes.

If you have a problem overwatering, your tomato leaves may be curling downward rather than growing upward.

This can be a sign of root rot. By letting the soil dry out for a few days, you can see if your plant recovers. If you regularly monitor the health of your plant, you should be able to detect this quite early.


Water slowly and deeply. The majority of plants struggle in floods, and tomatoes are no exception.

Think about the contrasts between having a fire hydrant opened for you and taking a leisurely drink of water from a glass. A drip irrigation system may theoretically be set up before planting.

You may ensure that your plants receive water in a dependable and regulated manner by doing this. If you don’t have a drip system, don’t worry.

The water might seep into the ground by simply setting your hose’s setting to the lowest position.

Drink plenty of water. There isn’t exactly a specific schedule for how often tomato plants need to be watered.

The stage of the plant’s life cycle, the present temperature, and the amount of recent precipitation are all important factors.

Plants should be watered every two to three days while it’s hot outside (more frequently in containers). You can reduce this to once or twice each week after the fruit has dried.

Water the roots instead of the leaves. Gardeners who are inexperienced frequently make the mistake of watering plants’ tops rather than their soil.

For tomatoes, this can result in a number of problems, including the attraction of pests, the spread of fungus (produced by damp soil splashing on the underside of the lower leaves), and leaf burn.

7. Atmosphere

Aside from watering, hot, sunny, and windy weather are the main causes of stress. Although it can occur at any stage of the tomato’s life cycle, wind stress has been a problem for me with my younger plants.

Imagine tomato leaves as tiny solar cells that take in sunlight to power the plant’s development. The leaves may gently curl for the rest of the day if the plant is “full” from excessive light.

If this is the reason your leaves are curling, don’t panic; as night falls, they will straighten out.

Aside from watering, hot, sunny, and windy weather are the main causes of stress. Although it can occur at any stage of the tomato’s life cycle, wind stress has been a problem for me with my younger plants.

Imagine tomato leaves as tiny solar cells that take in sunlight to power the plant’s development.

The leaves may gently curl for the rest of the day if the plant is “full” from excessive light.

If this is the reason your leaves are curling, don’t panic; as night falls, they will straighten out.

Strong winds are another environmental stressor for your tomatoes. The spring breezes in Virginia could be rather powerful.

This may be more difficult for young plants, and you could notice a prominent leaf curl that doesn’t go away by itself.

Although the curled leaves may prevent the plant from receiving enough sunlight, your tomatoes won’t perish. Instead, the plant’s growth and fruit production may be hampered.


Knowing what kinds of vegetables thrive in your location is one of the most vital things you can do to reduce environmental stress.

Tomatoes might not be the greatest plant for your garden if you live somewhere where it is frequently hot and windy (or vice versa, in an area that is extremely cold and damp).

Most of us find the summer to be a challenging season of the year, despite the fact that we may use some coping mechanisms to help.

To avoid the hottest portion of the day, put up shade coverings or containers. You may shield your plants from excessive heat or sunlight in a number of ways.

You may add shade cloth to your tomato plants, whether they are in the ground or a raised bed, to protect them from the sun’s rays during the warmest part of the day.

The simplest method to do this is to cover your current tomato cages or poles with the cloth. Once the temperature falls below the danger level, you can remove it.

using tomato cages and staking them properly. To ensure the plant’s success, secure your tomatoes with strong stakes and cages.

Branches that are very large or heavy should also have ties attached to the main stem at various locations.

Because determinate tomatoes grow closer to one another, planning for them is a little bit simpler.

Indeterminate cultivars require a bit more imagination because they continue to grow throughout the season.

Seedlings should be hardened off before planting, and you should do your best to shield them from high winds.

8. Herbicide Exposure

Unfortunately, because tomato plants are so susceptible to herbicides, they may still come into touch with them even if you don’t spray your plants with them.

The two herbicides that cause the most harm are aminopyralid and clopyralid. These chemical weed killers target broadleaf weeds that emerge in hay fields, grain fields, and byways.

Plants are able to absorb them easily, and they continue to be chemically stable even after the plant has perished.

When someone who has used these herbicides feeds hay or grain to a horse, cow, or chicken, the herbicide just goes through the digestive tract unaffected.

It is then brought to your garden and set in fresh soil or biodegradable material using manure.

Two ways that pesticides born on the wind, in grain for your hens, or in the “organic” compost you purchased from a local farmer might contaminate your crop are through herbicide drift (pollution from commercial spraying) and herbicide residue (contamination from feed or compost).

Although it doesn’t happen often, you should be on the lookout for this if your tomatoes and other veggies aren’t doing well and you can’t figure out why.

Herbicide damage is only useful if it is rare and readily apparent. The produced leaf curl may therefore be separated from those caused by other types of natural stress (where the leaves usually roll inwards).

Tomato leaves may ferociously twist and curl downward when exposed to herbicides. Young leaves will first exhibit this, but as time passes, older leaves may also begin to twist.

Unfortunately, such injury may prevent tomato branches or leaves from ever recovering.

Even if the new growth is uninjured, the damage will still have an influence on your plant’s productivity.

If the exposure is extreme, the plant must be removed right away since it won’t recover.


It should not be a surprise that the goal of this section would be to prevent herbicide drift rather than address the problem after it has been identified.

If you live in an area where commercial herbicides are sprayed, there are a few different things you may do.

Please check to see if the adjacent farms are employing aminopyralid and clopyralid as pesticides.

Whether they decide to spray, ask if you may be told beforehand. As a result, you will have the time to cover your plants beforehand, potentially avoiding any drift.

If you’re unable to accomplish this, attempt to locate your garden in a sheltered spot where it won’t be as likely to be sprayed by stray particles of water.

You may take a few extra steps at home to reduce your exposure to pesticide residue. Utilize everyday waste products like kitchen scraps, plant trimmings, and other rotting stuff to make your own compost.

In our home, vermiculture results in the creation of the finest compost possible (worm composting).

If you don’t have the time or room to make your own compost, only buy it from trustworthy suppliers.

Before buying hay or feed for hens or rabbits, find out whether the region uses herbicides. If you can, try to purchase from an organic farmer!

9. Over Pruning

Tomato pruning is another “Goldilocks” scenario. Your plant feels the pressure, but it needs to do it to maintain its health and encourage quick growth.

Despite the fact that some gardeners disagree and think tomatoes should never be pruned, over pruning can still have negative effects.

Numerous issues, including yellowing foliage, delayed growth, and reduced fruit output, could result from it. It might also cause leaf curl.


Never harvest determinate tomatoes after the first flower opens. As a result, it will develop more slowly and produce far fewer tomatoes. Focus your pruning efforts on the branches with the lowest leaf contact points if it is necessary.

When water splashes back onto the underside of the leaves or when leaves come into direct contact with the soil, several fungal infections may form.

Indeterminately cultivated tomatoes benefit greatly from meticulous trimming throughout their whole life cycle.

You’ve probably heard about suckers being pinched. Any new growth that has emerged in the space between your tomato’s lateral and primary stems should be simply pruned back.

The tomato plant is forced to focus its energy on the main development lines rather than producing several useless branches as a result.

To increase ventilation and lessen splash back, lower branches of unspecified sorts should also be removed.

What Do Curling Leaves Indicate?

The leaves of your tomato plants are curling, and you’re not sure what to do about it.

This is a common problem, and while it’s not always cause for alarm, there are some things you can do to correct the situation.

Curling leaves indicate one of several problems with your tomato plants. It could be a sign that the plant is hungry, that it’s thirsty, that it’s in the wrong soil or that it’s being attacked by insects or disease.

In most cases, curling leaves are caused by problems with the soil. If you see your leaves curl, take a look at the soil.

Is it dry? Is it compacted? Are there weeds or grasses growing in it? All of these things can cause your tomato plants to curl their leaves in an effort to conserve moisture.

Should You Cut Off Curling Leaves?

Leaves curling is not an uncommon problem for tomato plants. It can be caused by a variety of things, from lack of sunlight to pests and diseases.

If you’re seeing leaves curling on your tomato plants, the first thing you should do is identify the cause. Once you know what’s causing the problem, you can take steps to fix it.

In some cases, it may be necessary to cut off the curling leaves. But before you do that, make sure you’re doing everything else you can to address the problem.

If it’s a lack of sunlight or water that’s causing the leaves to curl, for example, cutting off the leaves won’t help.

What Are The Signs Of Overwatering Tomato Plants?

If you’re seeing curled leaves on your tomato plants, it could be a sign of overwatering.

Watering is one of the most important aspects of taking care of tomato plants, but it’s also one of the most easily done incorrectly.

When you water your plants too often, the roots can’t get enough oxygen and they start to rot. This can cause the leaves to curl and turn yellow.

If you’re seeing signs of overwatering, the best thing to do is cut back on the watering and wait for the soil to dry out a bit before watering again.

Will Too Much Fertilizer Make Tomato Leaves Curl?

Yes, overfertilizing can make your tomato leaves curl. Too much fertilizer can give the plants an excess of nitrates and other minerals, which can disrupt the normal processes of growth and lead to curling leaves.

So how do you know if you are overfertilizing your tomato plants? A good rule of thumb is to avoid fertilizers with a nitrogen-rich formula.

An abundance of nitrogen can lead to stunted growth and yellow or burned leaves, so it’s best to look for balanced formulas that include both nitrogen and potassium for a healthier plant.

You should also be sure not to over-water your plants either, as this can cause the same problems as too much fertilizer.

To ensure optimal growth and health, be sure to stick with organic fertilizers that offer gradual release and provide just the right amount of nutrients for your tomato plants.


In conclusion, there are a variety of reasons why tomato plants’ leaves might start curling.

However, there are also a variety of solutions to address the issue. Carefully consider each potential problem and its accompanying solution to find the best match for your tomato plant’s needs.

Sources :

Why Are My Tomato Leaves Curling? 7 Causes & How To Fix Them

8 Reasons Your Tomato Leaves Are Curling (And How to Fix it)