Tomato leaves curling

behlgarden(9)July 22, 2011

Just wanted to start posting on my tomato garden. Will start posting pictures soon.

My tomato plants (some of them) has inward curled leaves. I fertilized all plants by working it into and around the stem area soil few days ago. I did notice that soil in the top 4" was moist 24-hours after watering. I currently water the plants 3-times a week, for 20 minutes at 4 gal/hr drippers which are connected to 1/4" tube that is embeded 2" into the soil around the stem area. I suspect the curl could be the result of excessive watering. Although we have been hitting over 90 degrees on consistent basis and the plants get full sun from dawn to dusk, I believe that moisture is being retained by grass clippings that I am using as mulch and the lower part of the planter soil has some clay content.

All in all, plants appear very healthy and lots of flowers and some plants already got tomatoes on them. I did get and am getting some BER (blossom end rott) and this is the reason I am thinking about adjusting water schedule to 2 times a week, same time.

what have others done to their curling leaf tomato plant?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bets(z6A S ID)

"...moisture is being retained by grass clippings that I am using as mulch and the lower part of the planter soil has some clay content."

Grass clippings = usually good, but a factor in this case

planter soil has some clay content = "double plus ungood"

When planting in a container, it is best to use a minimum size of 5 gallons, and in the case of container tomatoes, bigger is definately better. Use a soilless growing medium, not dirt from the yard or a bagged "garden soil" because it tends to compact in a pot and then it drains poorly and the tomato's roots will drown or suffocate and the plant will die.

If you can at this point, I suggest you repot the tomatoes with a good soilless growing medium and you may want to add about 1/3 of the volume in perlite to help with drainage. Do a search for 511 container mix over in the container forum.


Here is a link that might be useful: Container Gardening Forum

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 2:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

90% of the time tomato leaf roll is caused by stress. ID and eliminate the stress and the symptom goes away. You indicate several possible causes of that stress as Betsy mentioned.

You can search 'leaf roll/curl' here for lots of discussions about this or Google 'tomato leaf roll' for even more info if interested.

One suggestion even though I have no idea what size containers you are using: when using containers it is easier to achieve the needed consistent soil moisture level with more frequent, less lengthy drip irrigation. The "frequency" and "length of time" variables are determined by container size and soil mixture.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 3:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for responses. No, plants are not in pots, they are in raised 24" tall planter along the fence line. it has clay/silt mix and then top 4"-5" I added manure and organic garden soil. Its very very fertile.

Could it be that grass clippings doing the damage? my lawn was fertilized with turfbuilder that had weed control in it. grass clippings came after 2 weeks of growth.

I will monitor the situation and take action. In the mean time, I am thinking about removing the grass clippings to get more sun to bake the soil and also cut watering to 2-times a week, 4 gal/hr for 20 minutes. that will get each plant 2.66 gal/week. Current water schedule gets them 4 gal/week. what is optimum watering for raised planters in zone 9 for tomatoes?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 4:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I most definitely would remove any grass clippings with herbicide on them and hope the plants outgrow the effects of that exposure.

Even grass clippings with no herbicide on them can create problems if laid on thickly when fresh and right against the base of the plant. They generate a great deal of heat as they decompose. Work best if dried first and kept out of direct contact with the stem.

what is optimum watering for raised planters in zone 9 for tomatoes?

There is no such thing as a set formula or optimal amount, regardless of location. There are far to many variables to consider.

It is the soil that determines when it needs water and that need varies from day to day, bed to bed, different locations in the same bed, and even hour to hour on especially hot and dry days. Monitoring soil moisture levels 6" down determines how much is needed and when.

What is the over all size of your planter? Planters and raised beds are still containers in many senses of the word. Was the organic garden soil you used perhaps MG Garden Soil? It isn't recommended for use anywhere but in ground beds. Soil-less potting mixes are what work best for containers, regardless of size.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 4:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bets(z6A S ID)


GardenWebber sprouts_honor (Jennifer from Cleveland) had a wonderful suggestion on how to tell whether or not you need to water your tomatoes, and I quote here: "Get a wooden dowel rod (or two) and sink it in the ground near a plant or two and leave it. Pull it out when you think you need to water. If the top is dry and the bottom is a little damp, it's time to water. If it looks dark and feels saturated, wait to water. I use this technique with potted plants that don't like being over watered and it's helpful with in ground plants too."

I hope that helps.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 10:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the tip Besty. I got plenty of round wooden stakes that could work as dowels. I do see stress in two or three plants out of the 20 I have. I have already cut down on water and will see how fast it recovers.

digdirt, thanks for the tips too. My planter is 20" tall x 20" wide, x 90' long. I used Kellong all organic garden soil that has a lot of compost and wooden chips, has very little sand/clay. existing bed has mix of sand/clay. I will definitely dig about 6" down 6" away from the plant to see what moisture looks like. then go from there.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 7:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

OK friends, yesterday I couldnt take it anymore as I saw wilting along with some curling on few tomato plants. I decided that its about time that I dig deeper.

I dug about 6 to 8 inches below the top of soil around the stem/roots. To my surprise I found real dry spots in some areas while some were a bit moist. Now it appears that its not enough watering that may be causing curling. I also noted a few yellow leaves that got me scared. Its been 3-months of hard work from from seeds to where plants are now 5 foot tall and bearing tomatoes.

Does less watering call curling too? I thought less water results in wilting and not curling. I am puzzled now.

I am going to increase the irrigation time and frequency to get the roots soaking wet first, then check the soil every 2-days to check condition of the soil and see how well moisture is retained. I have to figure out what my soil really wants from me. I dont want my plants to suffer because I am not doing the right thing by not investigating enough.

Did anyone has had curls due to less watering?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Leaf curling can be a stress response, and too little water does cause leaf curling.

Too little moisture will also result in:
= a smaller plant overall.
= some tomatoes may have pointed blossom-ends.
= slower fruit growth.
= fruit abortion (plant doesn't have enough moisture for more fruit).
= mealy, grainy, and dry-tasting fruit.

Were your plants originally potted in peat? When peat dries out, it's very difficult to get it moist again.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 12:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, I had the plants in peat in 1 gal pots, then I transplanted then into planters, burried them deep. I have been irrigating the top of peat near the stem using drip irrigation so peat around the stem and below was a bit moist, it was 6" dirt outside the peat where it was dry. regardless, I do see it being lack of water as the foilage has reduced too. I am going to jump start the growth again with proper watering. I recently fertilized it too so it may be water starving.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 1:34PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Container size for tomatos
I'm considering some of the larger tomato plants. How...
Rabbit Manure for Tomatoes
Hi- There's a guy locally that is selling rabbit manure...
Dwarves ....They Do'nt Get No Respect !!
To my observations, most talks are about How Big their...
Seysonn_ 7b-WA/HZ1
Turbo-Tomato Mulch (Red Plastic) From Gurneys
First time poster here. I wonder if anybody has used...
Your 2015 Choices - Fianl Answer !
Have You made up your mind yet, to answer this million...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™