Pics of wilting/curling tomato leaves - please help!

cha_cha(9)June 4, 2009

Some of the leaves and branches of a few of my tomato plants have started to sag, wilt and curl. They look otherwise healthy. I can't figure out if this is a wilt, blight, fungus or what. I'm worried that it is spreading and could wipe out all my maters. Any help or advice would be appreciated.

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cha cha,

My tomato plants were doing the same thing, and your pictures depicted the exact same curling leaves. I did a search on garden web and it was: aphids, lack of sunlight or too much water, etc. I think my tomatoes curling leaves was too much water. We have been deluged here in middle Tennessee. With a little sunshine and heat lately, they are doing fine now and the curling leaves are now the bottom branches which i have pruned off for circulation. All the new growth looks fine. So maybe yours will be okay. Check for aphids though. I had a few in addition to the torrential rains and rubbed them off.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 10:16PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It is called "tomato leaf roll" - many discussions here about and great info available on the web. It is just a physiological response of the plant to stress of some kind. It causes no permanent damage to the plant and once you ID the cause of the stress and eliminate it thecondition goes away. Causes include too much water or too little leading to inconsistent soil moisture levels, pests, excess fertilizer, root bound plant, etc. etc.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 10:38PM
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Thank you so much jenniedhs for your response! I don't see any aphids but I will keep the water in check and see how it goes.

If anyone else wants to offer suggestions - please feel free - I'm open to all. Fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 10:43PM
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petzold6596(8b southern NM)

Since I live in Las Cruces, NM and you live in AZ we do have many common environmental conditions that are not found in TN and AR. I do agree with both of the poster that it is stress issue. Afternoon sun will take the life out of any non-native plant in the SW. It is almost impossible to keep any veg hydrated, turgid, this time of year. I have built a shade cloth canopy over my veg garden this year and the plants are happy, happy and normal. None of heat stress issues this year.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 10:54PM
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Dave, I think we posted at the same time so I didn't see your reply until this morning. Thank you and petzold6596 for chiming in. The stress may be too much water so I will cut back on that. Luckily we are expecting some cooler weather here over the weekend so that could help with heat stress, they do get a fair bit of shade but the heat can still be overwhelming.

I didn't know which direction to research because there are so many problems that can affect tomatoes that have similar symptoms. Now I know to look into leaf roll. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 10:05AM
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I have this same problem. In my case it is only happening to one tomato plant and that plant is a companion in a self watering earth box. The other plant is doing just fine. I'm wondering if my wilted tomato plant (a yellow Jubilee) is incompatible with the Mr. Stripy it is planted with. Mr. Stripy seems to be doing just fine. Scratching my head over this one.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 2:52PM
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ditnc(7 NC)

stacy, same here...two tomatoes in an EB and one is fine and the other wilts (but it then revives, it's not wilted all the time). They are 2 different varieties. I watered it under the covers a few times, but then just decided to leave it alone...maybe it's still working on developing its roots while the other one is more established. But it does also not have the curl problem which would concern me more.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 4:15PM
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I have the identical problem with my ACE 55's but not my Early Girls. I was told that it was caused by unusually heavy rain and cool weather in May. Will they come back, they are really ugly. How often should they be watered. I was told by a local "expert" to wait until the ground is dry 2 inches deep before watering.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 6:05PM
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I thought it was too much water, so I cut back for a while. But I have blazing sun on them 12 hours a day, and now I hear that stress can cause the same reaction. So how do you know whether leaf curl is due to too much water, or not enough?

(They show no sign of fungus or any disease or bug)

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 7:01PM
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col_sprg_maters(Front Range 5)

Its been hot in colorado springs, and the sun is intense some days. I had one plant with about 90% of its leaves curled.

I cut it back to 8 hour sun, manually managed the water to ensure it was moist - not drenched - not dry, added the missing lime to my container mix, added a little of the advised 8-4-12 fertilizer, added some azomite for micro nutrients, and sprayed for aphids.

A week later down to 40% leaf curl. I dont know what did it, but I think that variety of tomato does not like my growing climate (Clint Eastwood Rowdy Red). One other grower of same variety also with excessive leaf curl.

Thats All I got for help and support, just treat the poor thing like a favorite lost puppy you just got back.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 9:31PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

Hi cha cha,

To me the top picture looks like leaf roll, but the others look more like wilt.

If your plants are stressed, yes they will roll. Wilting can be (late afternoon) heat or lack of water. Before you cut down on the amount of water, check the soil moisture about 4" below the surface.

Are your plants in containers or in the ground? How often do you water and how much?

As a general rule, tomatoes need an inch of water every week. An inch of rain is exactly that, water that is one inch deep. One inch of rainfall equals 4.7 gallons of water per square yard. Cool weather will be less, hot weather more.

Dig down with your finger about 4", is the soil wet, dry, or just right? If it is wet, don't water, if dry then water. If it is just right, check again the next day. Water deeply once or twice a week. Watering daily encourages shallow roots which means the plant is affected more by variations in soil moisture. In my garden during the heat of the summer, I water deeply every 4-5 days, early spring I may only water every 8-9 days and when the weather is moderatly warm (70-80°), about once a week.

Mulching heavily helps mediate the moisture level.

Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 3:18PM
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Can the plant die from too much stress?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 1:56PM
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Anything and anyone can die from too much stress.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 8:47PM
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Probably wilting from that ladder leaning against them to reach the top.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 2:54PM
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I have same issues and I was told that it could be excessive watering. well, I lowered the water and lost some of the greens. I have some plants that get 1/2 day of sun and other get full sun. the ones in partion share are doing great with same watering. it suggests that the ones in full sun are underwatered. I do realize that we need to water about 1" of water per week, which could be 4-6 gallons of water/week in well drained soil.

I am still battling with curling leaves and different breeds of heirlooms respond differently to watering and BER,its amazing how some varities are stubborn.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 3:46PM
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