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Why Are My Cabbage Leaves Curling – Causes & Fixes

When growing any plant, you have an idea of what the perfect plant should look like. You want your cabbage to be large and dense, so you might be shocked when you see the leaves on your cabbage curling. You start to fret over this: why are my cabbage leaves curling?

Cabbage leaves curl when a cabbage is not getting the right about of nutrients, water, or sunlight. Your cabbage plant may also be a variety that has curly leaves, which you may not have known when you planted the cabbage.

Curled leaves are not always a death sentence for your cabbage; you can often easily stop your cabbage leaves from curling. Keep reading about some issues your cabbage plant can suffer from and how to change them. 

Fusarium Soil Fungus

Curling, yellow leaves are a sign of a soil fungus called Fusarium. 

A garden pest called a leafhopper attacks the soil and plants in your garden. 

The best way to manage leafhoppers is to prevent the pest from coming into your garden by:

  • Removing any leafhoppers that you see in your garden
  • Keep your soil moist but not too wet, which can cause diseases to spread
  • Don’t let weeds grow in your garden; again, weeds mean pests may come
  • Rotate crops in your garden. Do not plant your crops in the same place each year

Here are the phases Fusarium will go through as the disease progresses:

Color Of LeavesWhat Is Happening
Green leavesGreen leaves are a sign of a healthy plant, which is exactly what you want.
Green leaves with hints of yellowLeaves will begin to yellow on your plant closer to the ground first. The disease is traveling up your plant.
Dark brown or black stem and leavesThe disease has caused your plant to become dry and brittle, meaning that your plant has been completely overtaken by the disease.

Not Enough Nutrients

Your cabbage’s leaves may begin to curl if your cabbage plant is not getting enough nutrients to grow. 

Cabbage plants are heavy feeders, meaning they need nutrient-dense soil to grow properly. 

Your soil may not have enough nutrients if you have repeatedly planted crops in the same area. Some places do not have the best soil conditions either.

Since your cabbage plant is not getting the food – nutrients – that it needs, it cannot grow properly, which may result in your leaves curling.

The easiest way to give your cabbage more nutrients is to give your cabbage fertilizer throughout the growing season. A high-nitrogen fertilizer is the best choice for cabbage plants.

Fertilizing Too Often

Too much fertilizer can also cause your cabbage leaves to curl.

Too much of a good thing can be bad for cabbage plants and other crops you may plant. 

Once the head of your cabbage begins to grow, you do not need to continue to grow your plants. 

Over fertilization can cause too much leaf growth on the cabbage plant. If the leaves get too large, they may start to curl in on themselves because they are so large and heavy. 

Large leaves are not necessarily harmful to your cabbages, but too much fertilization can also cause smaller cabbage heads. 

Too Much Or Too Little Water

Another main cause of curling leaves on cabbage is inadequate water. This can be too much water or too little water.

Cabbage plants do not need a lot of water to produce a healthy head, but cabbage, like any other crop, needs water to grow. Flooding your cabbage with water is not the solution either.

Check out this handy chart to know how much water your cabbage should be getting:

Amount Of Water WeeklyIs This Enough Water?
1-1.5 inches of waterThis is the key amount of water that you want to try to get your cabbage to have. 
2+ inches of waterOnce you start to give your cabbage plants more than 2 inches of water, you begin to run the risk of overwatering or drowning your cabbage plants.

Remember that weather will affect how much you water your cabbage plants.

Your cabbage plants will need more water when the weather is dry, but when you see a lot of rainy days in the forecast, you do not need to water your crops as much. 

Too Much Heat Or Light

Sunlight and heat can lead to your cabbage leaves curling.

Cabbage plants are cold-weather plants, if you did not already know. Cabbages like sunlight, but plants do not like high temperatures or too much harsh sunlight. 

Once your cabbage plants are planted, it is difficult to control heat or sunlight. You can try to avoid this by:

  • Not planting your cabbage seeds or seedlings too early in the season
  • Plant your cabbage in a place where there is no constant direct sunlight
  • Plant your cabbage in pots so you can move the pots around if you need to

Cabbage Variety Has Curly Leaves

Some varieties of cabbage have curly leaves, which you may not have realized when you planted your cabbage seeds.

Savoy cabbage is one type of cabbage variety that has curly leaves. The waves in the leaves may even look like ridges. 

Traditional green cabbage has fewer curly leaves, which may be the variety of cabbage you picture when you think of cabbage. 

Napa cabbage does not have curly leaves like Savoy cabbages, but there are still some waves to the leaves. 

There is nothing wrong with your cabbage if you are growing a variety of cabbage with naturally curly leaves. You can grow without worrying when it comes to Savoy and Napa cabbages!