I have never experienced leaf curl to this extreme before. Started from seed, these plants were perfect in 4 inch pots. After transplanting to a large pot, the leaf curling started within several days. The pot lacked good drainage, being a self watering pot. The pot is outside, and I drilled some drainage holes over a week ago. The leaf curling had continued to get worse.

Could the overly wet soil caused this? Could the Tomato Tone and Kelp meal caused this? No signs of bugs.


I have planted in a raised bed for a decade and have only had issues with aphids and septorium leaf spot. Mulch has pretty much eradicated the spot fungus. I have a green thumb and rarely have to deal with failure. I have always been gentle, but firm with transplanting.

The soil in the pot was taken from my neighbor's "compost pile"; which is really just old flower potting soil dumped yearly. I am suspecting that a disease was present. The photos were taken about 2 weeks after transplanting and they were not rootbound in the 4 inch pots.

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I have experienced similar problems but they have been mainly due to lack of water or a heat wave resulting in lack of water. If that is not the case and the soil is damp, then the other thing I can think of is shock from transplanting from the 4 inch pot. During that time, do think you damaged the main stem or the roots? I find transplanting to be very tricky for novice gardeners.

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    I've transplanted for years with no problems. I even transplanted four others in a raised need at the same time. Only these two were affected. – Evil Elf Jun 9 '17 at 21:56
  • You may want to add this in your original question. You have been transplanting for years and I am still learning. BTW, my tomatoes today are also showing leaf curl. i just watered them so will let you know the result – JStorage Jun 9 '17 at 22:05
  • This is a whole other level of curl I have never seen. They aren't even uncurling at all and they are thick and leathery. I will update my post. – Evil Elf Jun 12 '17 at 19:05

What I am understanding is that this humongous tomato plant was this size in a 4" pot? You just drilled holes in the bottom of this pot a week ago? You just transplanted this plant into this larger pot, which matches the size just fine. I am having a hard time seeing a few days of saturated soil making this big of a difference.

Transplanting is not a big deal. Please tell us that you used potting soil for both pots. Need to get rid of the mulch stuff on the top. This looks like the result of a very large stress or complete degradation of roots. Plenty of water and the tomato is not able to take it up.

If you planted this guy in the larger pot using garden soil with no drain holes then that might be enough to cause root rot. Warm temperatures? Old pot not washed with bleach? Garden soil with all kinds of pathogens? Garden soil full of clay causing no drainage at all? Bummer.

There are flowers already set while growing in the 4" container. The roots were only filling the 4" container and if one has few roots, non draining soil, no drain holes for awhile (Check those holes, please. Did you drill from above or below and what size of hole?), pathogens to cause root rot and 'clogging' of the vascular system, then shoot. The roots are so badly compromised that this guy is unable to take up the amount of water necessary and well, it will look like wilt.

Pop this plant out of the pot, take a picture of the roots, please. I doubt that it is anywhere near root bound and will probably not be able to hold the soil together. But need to see what truly happened, are the roots bright white? Lots of new tiny roots? Are the roots tan or brown or mush? This plant is beyond saving I am sorry to say.

Try one more thing, repot with potting soil and move your plant into the shade. Prune it severely at least 4 joints or branches. Stressful to be sure but the main stress is trying to get necessary water to the entire plant in the sun in high temperatures. Tomatoes are very tough. I've had completely frozen tomatoes I pruned back to just the main stem and they by golly came back. This will set you back at least a month month and 1/2, if it is able to recover. Most plants I would never recommend trying at this stage but tomatoes are very intent on survival.

Tomato tone and Kelp meal...what else have you added in terms of fertilizer? Both of these other products are not balanced but will add up with a balanced fertilizer to be deadly for the tomato. Not seeing that as a problem. I might be seeing things but do you have that plant tied to the stake tightly?

Are the leaves below that tie fairly healthy? Cutting off the vascular system using ties is very common for tomatoes. Ties should constantly be monitored and changed or done loosely so the epidermis of the stem isn't compromised, again killing the vascular system.

This could be a tomato plant being exposed to full sun too soon. This could also be a tie to the stake that has girdled the stem. And thirdly this could be root rot because of the added pathogens, no drainage and too few roots from being raised in a 4" pot. Normally transplanting this guy from 4" to this pot, 5 gallon? or is it one gallon? would not be a big deal. The saturation of the soil however, drainage holes that are so small they close up or don't allow water to drain would do this. Did you put rock at the bottom of this pot? For drainage? Vascular diseases possible for tomato great id for tomato diseases Plain old root rot from overwatering Excellent article on root rot prevention and clean up

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  • I think digging up the roots is good idea. I have my favorite species in my raised bed. These two are black krims I like to mess around with. The ties are the same as always: loose panty hose. Do odd. I am convinced almost of disease. – Evil Elf Jun 12 '17 at 19:11
  • For this to happen so quickly it has the appearance of too little water getting to the top growth. That would mean blockage of the vascular system (disease) or too few roots for the amount of top growth to handle the sun light and high maintenance top growth or too few roots because they are rotting away. Root rot is the main culprit. Second would be transplanting a large plant grown in a 4" pot into a pot appropriate for the top growth but not the small root ball. Third would be a disease that I am not remembering at the moment clogging/damaging the vascular system. – stormy Jun 12 '17 at 19:48
  • That would be verticillium wilt...plus a few others you'll find in the links provided. Great use of panty hose so no problemo! I have a feeling you are correct Evil Elf. Disease. Brought over from your neighbor's compost. Again a big no no for plants in pots without sterilizing first. Some tomatoes are designed for resistance, you should look up this variety, you are going to have to get rid of soil and plant and carefully. Do take this plant into your garage or at least your driveway and do some investigation. Those links explain what to do. Hope this helps. – stormy Jun 12 '17 at 20:07

I am quite confident that this was caused by drifting herbicide. I experienced the same symptoms with two plants this year after spraying my lawn, even though I thought I was careful. I suspect that tomatoes are super sensitive to any amounts of the chemical. I was using a mix of Tenacity and 2,4-D, dimethylamine salt.

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  • Tomatoes are very sensitive to 2,4,D , etc. The nice lawn and the wilted tomato picture is like an an example of what happens. Also the herbicide can drift hundreds of feet in the air. Get a new pot and tomato and hope for the best. – blacksmith37 Jul 9 '18 at 14:05

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