What Causes Your Tomato Leaves To Curl? What To Do In These Cases

Are your tomato leaves curling and you don’t know why? Well… You certainly aren’t alone in this struggle! Many gardeners face the same issue with tomatoes and don’t have a clue as to the underlying cause or what can be done about it. In this blog post, we will explore various factors that could lead to curled tomato leaves and offer solutions on how to bring them back from their distressed state. With these tips and tricks, you can get your tomatoes growing happily again 🙂

First of all, don’t worry if your tomato leaves have curled up. It’s not always a bad sign! Some varieties of tomato plants are prone to curling leaves as part of their natural growth cycle.

Let’s try to identify the reason why your tomato plant has curled up leaves and if this is normal or a sign of disease.

What Is Tomato Leaf Curl Virus

Tomato Leaf Curl Virus (TLCV) is a globally recognized virus to blame for tomato plants’ leaf curling issues. The virus is transmitted by whiteflies, with the leaves’ edges curling and turning yellow, as the most visible symptoms on infected plants. The virus may also result in stunted growth and a decrease in the yield produced by the tomato plant.

Unfortunately, TLCV has no cure, making prevention the best plan of action. Keeping whiteflies at bay using insecticidal soap is one prevention technique. Keeping your plants free of weeds and maintaining the area around the garden will help prevent whiteflies from breeding and a place to overwinter.

Want to learn how to make your own natural pesticides for your tomato plants? Check out this article!

Tomato Leaf Curl Due To Improper Fertilization

Fertilizer is essential to growing healthy and productive tomato plants, but it must be used correctly. Over-fertilizing or under-fertilizing can cause numerous problems, including tomato leaf curl. Fertilizer is meant to provide the necessary nutrients for plant growth, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Applying too much fertilizer or using the wrong type can cause excess salts in the soil, leading to leaf curl and other issues.

Use the Right Fertilizer

One common mistake gardeners make is using the wrong type of fertilizer for tomatoes. Tomatoes need a balanced fertilizer that provides equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers meant for grass or other plants. Additionally, using organic fertilizers like compost or manure can help improve soil quality and prevent leaf curl.

Check this article if you want to know more about fertilizers.

Apply Fertilizer Correctly

Timing and application are critical when it comes to fertilizer. Always follow the instructions on the package and avoid applying too much or too frequently. Overuse of fertilizer can cause salt buildup in the soil, leading to poor plant growth and leaf curl. Apply fertilizer evenly and avoid getting it on the foliage, as this can cause burn marks and other types of damage. Water plants regularly to help distribute the fertilizer and prevent buildup.

Curled Leaves In Tomato Plants Due to Poor Soil

Soil pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of your soil, and it plays a crucial role in plant growth and health. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why checking your soil pH level is important for leaf curl prevention and how you can adjust it accordingly.
Firstly, let’s understand why pH levels matter for plant growth. Tomatoes grow best in soils with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8 , which is slightly acidic to neutral. When the pH level deviates from this range, it can affect the availability of nutrients in the soil, making it difficult for plants to absorb them. This can lead to several problems, including weakened plants, stunted growth, and leaf curl.

To prevent leaf curl, you must check your soil pH level regularly. You can do this by using a pH tester or by sending a soil sample to a testing laboratory. Once you know your soil pH level, you can adjust it accordingly. If your soil is too acidic, you can add lime to increase the pH level. If your soil is too alkaline, you can add sulfur to decrease the pH level.

Tomato Curl Leaves Due To Improper Watering

Another important factor to consider is the watering and drainage of your plants.

Curled leaves can result from several environmental and biological factors. Drought stress is among the most common causes of curled leaves on tomato plants. When water is scarce, the plant starts conserving its resources by directing all water to the roots instead of evaporating it through leaves.

Curled leaves under these conditions are the result of the reduced water content and the more compact shape of the foliage. However, it is essential to note that overwatering can also cause curled leaves by preventing the plant from undergoing the necessary soil drainage process. The roots then remain wet for too long, which leads to a lack of oxygen, causing damage to the root system and plant health.

Varieties of Tomato Plants with Curled Leaves:

All tomato plants are susceptible to curled leaves, but some varieties are more prone than others. The varieties that are more susceptible normally get curly, stunted leaves due to disease and environmental stresses such as drought and overwatering.

Some tomato varieties known for having curly leaves are the ‘Ruffled Leaf Yellow,’ which is a bright yellow tomato variety that bears sweet fruit.

For heavier yields, the ‘Black Krim‘ variety is also known for its disease resistance but tends to maintain curled leaves throughout its growth cycle.

Determinate and Indeterminate Varieties

The first step in identifying your tomato plant is to know whether it is a determinate or indeterminate variety. Determinate tomato plants are usually more compact and grow to a specific height before they stop growing. They typically have a shorter harvest season and produce ripe fruit all at once. Indeterminate tomato plants, on the other hand, keep growing taller and produce fruit through the entire growing season. They require more space and support but can yield more fruit overall.

Pests as the reasons why you have curled tomato leaves

Pests can cause leaf curl in tomato plants. If the leaves aren’t developing properly and the plant’s growth is affected, it can be a serious problem. Let’s explore together the most common (and most dangerous) pests that can harm your tomato plants.

Spider Mites
One of the most common culprits behind curling leaves on tomato plants is spider mites. These tiny pests thrive in hot, dry weather and can quickly multiply, causing damage to the plant’s leaves. Spider mites feed on the fluids within the leaves, resulting in the leaves curling and turning yellow. You can control spider mites by regularly washing your plants with a strong blast of water and using insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Aphids are another pest that can cause curling leaves on tomato plants. These small insects suck on the plant’s sap, causing yellowing and wilting of the leaves. They can also transmit diseases that can harm your entire plant. To control aphids, use a natural insecticide like Pyrethrin or plant ladybugs, which feed on aphids, in your garden.

Whiteflies are tiny insects that are known to feed on tomato plants. They lay their eggs on the plant leaves, which then hatch into larvae that feed on the plant sap. This causes the leaves to curl and turn yellow. To eliminate whiteflies, use yellow sticky traps or a natural insecticide like insecticidal soap or neem oil.

In addition to pests, diseases can also cause tomato plant leaves to curl. Besides the leaf curl virus that I mentioned before, another disease that can cause curling leaves is verticillium wilt, which is caused by soil-borne fungi. The leaves on affected plants curl and wilt due to damaged roots. To prevent the spread of diseases, it’s important to rotate your crops and avoid planting tomatoes in the same spot every year.

Environmental Factors that may cause leaves to curl

Finally, environmental factors like extreme heat or dry weather can also cause tomato plant leaves to curl. If you suspect that environmental factors are causing the curling leaves, try to water your plants more frequently and provide some shade during the hottest part of the day.


Curling leaves on tomato plants can be a sign of pests, diseases, or environmental factors. By identifying the cause of the problem early on, you can take steps to remedy the situation and protect your plants. Regularly inspecting your plants for signs of pests or diseases, rotating your crops, and using natural insecticides are all measures you can take to keep your tomato plants healthy and thriving throughout the growing season. Happy gardening!

If you want to know more about growing tomatoes, check these articles here:

9 Recipes for Homemade Organic Pesticides For Tomato Plants

Birds Feeding On Your Tomatoes? Keep The Birds Away From Your Garden

Can I Grow Tomatoes With Other Vegetables In The Same Hydroponic System?

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Anat Goldberg

Hi! My name is Anat and I have lived all my life in the countryside. I grew on a farm in Northern Italy and from an early age, I took care of the animals on the farm and the family garden. Over the years I have developed a growing passion for organic cultivation and pest control.

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