The Q&A Archives: Curling leaves on Tomatoes

Question: I am growing tomatoes in an upside down container. I water them every 2-3 days, per instructions. Lately the leaves have begun to turn inward. Why is this and what do I do? I used miracle grow potting soil and have sprayed them for bugs. They are blooming and seem fine except for the leaves. Thank you.

Answer: One interesting thing that will happen when you grow your tomato plants this way is that they will grow upwards towards the sun until the plants get bigger and bushier and start producing fruit. Being upside down can cause the leaves to take on a slightly rolled appearance.

Physiological leaf roll may be associated with environmental stresses such as excess moisture, excess nitrogen, and transplant shock. Leaf roll may also be related to moisture conservation during periods of extreme heat and drought. Improper cultural practices such as severe pruning and root damage during cultivation can also cause leaf roll symptoms. Physiological leaf roll involves an initial upward cupping of the leaves, followed by an inward roll. In severe cases, the leaves roll up until the leaflets overlap. Symptomatic leaves become thickened and leathery. Symptoms typically appear first in lower leaves but may spread to the entire plant, depending on the severity of the condition. Leaf roll is more commonly associated with staking varieties of tomato, such as "Early Girl" and "Big Boy", rather than bush types. In most cases, the condition is temporary and will have little or no affect on plant growth or fruit production.

Best wishes with your tomato plants!

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