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Spastic tomato plants?

Q. Why would tomato plants curl up like they are spastic? – Jeanette Wilson, Elizabethtown (Nolin RECC)



A. Hi, Jeanette: All plants perform best when given adequate growing conditions. Tomatoes are no different and they do have their share of insect and disease issues so giving them what they want will make them healthy and productive. There are a number of reasons why the foliage on tomato plants will curl up. Does there appear to be any discoloration on the leaves? Is the entire plant showing signs of distress? Or is it in a concentrated area? The answers to these questions will help determine the cause on your tomato plants.

Environmental conditions such as high temperatures and low moisture can cause leaves to curl up to prevent moisture loss. Too much nitrogen can result in distorted top growth and extended periods of too much or too little moisture can cause a physiological problem in tomatoes know as leaf curl. Twisted and curled up leaves can also happen in response to contact with any non-selective herbicide. Even if the tomato plants are not the target, herbicide drift can occur on a windy day if sprayed nearby.

All of this said and it is September so despite the current condition, hopefully you enjoyed plenty of home grown tomatoes this year. Be sure to remove all plant debris as to not overwinter any potential insect or disease issues. You can always take a sample to the agriculture/ horticulture agent(s) at your County Cooperative Extension office for a positive diagnosis.


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