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Tomato Leaves Curling Down – Potential Causes & Fixes

Leaf curling in tomato plants is possibly one of the most common problems that gardeners face when growing tomato plants. Initially, its concerning if you’re a new gardener. However with some experience, it’s a problem that is easy to fix. So, what causes tomato leaves to curl down?

Most of the time, leaf curling is caused by issues like watering issues, exposure to too much heat and sun, or damage from high winds. However, downward curling is usually characteristic of damage from herbicides.

Luckily, the damages that cause leaf curl usually are very treatable and reversible when caught early on. Let’s get into it.

Why Are My Tomato Leaves Curled Up? 

There are multiple causes for leaf curling in tomato plants. Most of the time, leaf curling in tomato plants is caused by sun, heat, or wind damage. Additionally, insufficient nutrients, overwatering, and underwatering can potentially cause leaf curl in tomato plants. However, damage from pests, herbicides, or plant viruses can also potentially cause leaf curling. Here are all of the potential causes for leaf curling in tomato plants. 

Underwatering Or Overwatering 

When watering tomato plants, they tend to need a watering schedule that is just right to grow and develop properly. As a result, both underwatering and overwatering tomato plants could lead to health problems that could cause leaf curling.

The good news is that leaf curling caused by watering problems can usually be fixed with adjustments to the plant’s watering schedule. Additionally, overwatering and underwatering can normally be prevented by following a recommended watering schedule for the type of tomato plant being grown. 

Insufficient Nutrients 

Using a fertilizer that has insufficient nutrients for tomato plants can also cause their leaves to curl. Notably, this can occur in fertilizers that contain high amounts of nitrogen and low amounts of phosphorus and potassium. This problem is easily fixed by replacing a better-suited fertilizer for tomato plants. 

Too Much Heat and Sunlight 

Although tomato plants do require a lot of sunlight to grow properly, too much heat and sunlight can potentially also cause damage to the plant. These damages can easily cause a tomato plant’s leaves to curl.

In order to prevent heat and sun damage in tomato plants, it is recommended that many types of tomatoes are kept out of temperatures that exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit. However, some strains of tomato plants can survive in hot temperatures. 

Leaf Curling As A Result Of Recent Transplant

Though often necessary, transplanting a young plant is sure to cause the plant some stress. As a result, the leaves on your tomato plant may curl right after being transplanted.

Even though any leaf curling is understandably concerning to gardeners, a bit of leaf curling after transplanting is fairly normal. It is recommended that you wait a few days to see if the leaf condition improves before making any changes. 

Too Much Wind

Wind damage is also a possible reason why your tomato plant leaves are curling. High winds can cause plants a lot of stress, especially if their roots are being displaced. Additionally, lots of low wind on a tomato plant can cause dryness. Both excessive dryness and stress from very high winds can cause leaf curl. 

Problems With Herbicide 

Herbicides can easily damage tomato plants, and leaf curl resulting from this damage is seen as the leaves distinctly curling downward. Using herbicides, you must keep the chemicals away from your tomato plant to prevent damage.

Luckily, damage from herbicide can usually be repaired as the plant regrows its leaves after the herbicide is removed. Unfortunately, extensive damage from herbicides usually results in the death of tomato plants. 

Broad Mites or Other Pests 

Insects often cause damage to plants due, and often these pests on tomato plants are broad mites. Damage from pests can cause a lot of stress on a plant, and this stress commonly causes physical signs of a plant’s leaves, such as curling, spotting, and yellowing.

There are ways that you can safely treat a tomato plant for broad mites and other insects. However, the specific treatment will likely differ depending on the specific pest at hand. 


Several different viruses can cause leaf curling in tomato plants. Most notably, yellow leaf curl virus and tomato mosaic virus cause leaf curl in tomato plants, but any illness could cause a tomato plant’s leaves to curl. The best way to deal with viruses in your garden is to remove the affected plant immediately and throw it away. This will prevent the virus from spreading to your other tomato plants. 

Can Tomatoes Recover From Leaf Curl? 

Yes, there are many instances where tomato plants can recover from leaf curl. This is especially true when the cause of the leaf curl is caught early on and when the cause is easily eliminated. This is often the case for leaf curl that is caused by watering issues, insufficient nutrients, and even wind, herbicide, pest, and heat damage when caught early on. The only cause for leaf curl that is not salvageable is leaf curl caused by a virus or extensive plant damage. 

How Do You Fix Tomato Leaf Curl? 

The only way to truly fix tomato leaf curl is to eliminate its cause. For example, the best way to fix the leaf curl in a tomato plant that is caused by underwatering is to water the tomato plant more often. Most of the time, tomato leaf curl is easily fixed through some minor alterations that improve the health of the tomato plant. 

How Do You Control Leaf Curl Virus? 

The best way to control leaf curl virus is to remove the affected plant as soon as possible. This will prevent the leaf curl virus from spreading throughout your garden. However, this is most effective when the sick plant is identified and removed early on. It is important to note that the ill plants should not be put into compost as this could also spread plant viruses. 

Things To Consider 

There are some other things that tomato growers may need to consider about their tomato leaves curling down. It is beneficial to prevent your tomato plants from becoming damaged by the wind, sun, and heat. Here are some other things for gardeners to consider about leaf curl on tomato plants. 

How To Prevent The Wind From Damaging Your Tomato Plants

You can prevent your tomato plant from being damaged by winds by planting them in an area that provides some shelter from high winds. Planting your tomato plants along a fence or wall can be a good way. 

How To Prevent Sun And Heat Damage In Tomato Plants

The best way to prevent sun and heat damage in tomato plants is to have them indoors during a heatwave and to plant them during times of the year to avoid very hot weather for those living in hot climates. Additionally, those who are living in hot climates may want to choose a type of tomato plant that can withstand hot temperatures. 

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