Eggplants: highly versatile, highly delicious.
Think about it: tasty breaded eggplant slices in the air fryer, eggplant parmesan, or even a delicious eggplant rollatini? Or, how about some eggplant slices on the grill?
There’s no doubt about it: this giant purple fruit is not only delicious but a popular plant for gardeners of all kinds to grow.
But, what happens when you go to water your beautiful and healthy eggplants (Solanum melongena) and discover that their leaves are suddenly curling upwards and wilting?
This is a severe problem that can even cause premature plant death if it’s not taken care of quickly.
Take a close look at your plant to determine signs and symptoms and then use that to identify the source of the problem.
Once you know why the leaves are curling, you can find the right treatment to bring your eggplant back to life.
Why Are the Leaves of My Eggplant Curling?
If your eggplant leaves are curling, it could be due to a plant virus, an insect infestation, or one of the most common mistakes made by gardeners everywhere: underwatering or overwatering.
Common Causes of Eggplant Leaf Curl
Nobody wants to see the healthy green leaves on their eggplant curling upwards, wilting, turning yellow, or covered in spots.
Eggplants should have thick, healthy, fuzzy, and slightly dark green leaves. However, depending on the symptoms your plant shows, it may imply various things.
Look closely on the leaves on your eggplant. You’ve already identified that they’re curling, and something is wrong.
But, what else do they look like? Are there brown spots? Do the leaves look yellow? Are there holes in addition to the leaf curl?
Look closely at the other symptoms your eggplant is showing.
These symptoms can help you deduce the main cause of the leaf curl.
Eventually, you can revive your eggplant back into health, so you end up with big, shiny, and fat purple fruits that taste succulent and delicious.
One cause of eggplant leaf curl is improper care conditions, mainly under- and overwatering.
These are usually the mistakes made by growers, particularly those new to the art of gardening.
If your eggplant has curling, wilted, and yellow leaves, the first step is to check the soil to ensure that you’re giving your plant the right amount of water.
If you’re underwatering, the soil will feel dry, hard, or packed.
The leaves will be curling up on the edges and feel dry, thin, and brittle.
An overwatered eggplant will also show symptoms of this problem on its leaves. Look for leaves that feel wet, soft, and limp.
More symptoms of overwatering include premature leaf drop of new growth and soft, brown, or mushy roots that prevent the plant from taking water, causing leaf curl and wilting.
Another good way to tell is by feeling the soil. Does it feel spongy and moist, or is it sopping wet or mushy? If the soil is mushy and too watery, it can cause leaf curl and eventually death.
The best way to water an eggplant is with frequent, short, and deep waterings that will promote shallow root growth, which is best for these plants.
Give Your Eggplant Adequate Water
With the right conditions, your eggplant’s leaves will plump up again and look fuzzy and healthy.
Watering is an essential factor, but you should also be sure to give it about six hours of sunlight every day and ensure that the soil feels moist, not too dry, or sopping wet.
Also, don’t forget to add in a healthy dose of compost or fertilizer for your crop. Try using the right soil to compost ratio to ensure an optimal growing environment for your eggplants.
One common cause of leaf curl in eggplants is a plant virus.
Eggplants, in particular, are susceptible to verticillium wilt virus, which is an incredibly damaging fungal virus that can easily infect eggplants.
It’s especially easy for eggplants to suffer from the wilt virus if they’re planted in open ground that’s been contaminated with this virus.
Eggplant Verticillium Wilt Virus
Verticillium wilt virus can infect a host of different plants, including evergreens, ornamental plants, and edibles, and the nightshade family of plants (like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants) is especially vulnerable.
Eggplant verticillium wilt virus is extraordinarily hardy and dangerous since this fungus can survive for years in the soil and can even last in regions with freezing weather.
It can be devastating to your eggplants, particularly if you have a large crop. Another common virus that eggplants get is mosaic virus, which can also be deadly.
The wilt virus is essentially a fungus that produces a toxin to attack the plant’s ability to effectively transport water and nutrients to its leaves.
This causes the plant to have curled, yellowed, and wilted leaves, stunted growth, and eventually, death.
Symptoms include yellowish-green, small, and curled leaves. The leaves that are closest to the ground will be first affected.
They will roll in at the edges and look as if their usual healthy green color has been faded.
To treat verticillium wilt virus, you should always grow your eggplants in clean, sterilized soil.
Since the fungus likes to linger in the soil and flourishes in the cold ground, using heat to sterilize soil is an effective method. Try using the microwave, the oven, or you can even use the sun.
Another common cause of eggplant leaf curl is an insect infestation. In particular, eggplants can be vulnerable to flea beetles.
These beetles chew tiny holes that look like buckshot in the leaves and can cause wilting and curling as the plant loses its nutrients to the tiny, sap-sucking fiends.
However, they can be easily treated if you know what to do.
The best way to treat a flea beetle infestation is by a gentle insecticide or neem oil, which can be a huge help to keeping your eggplants full of healthy, purple fruits and dark green, thick fuzzy leaves.
Plant Companion Crops
Another method for controlling flea beetles is planting “trap crops,” which are essentially sacrificial companion plants.
You simply plant varieties that will attract the flea beetles, leaving your actual crops untouched and full of healthy fruit.
Use Plastic Mulch
One more control method is to put plastic mulch around the base of your eggplants if you’re planting them in topsoil.
This helps prevent flea beetles or other pests from coming up through the soil to munch on your crop.
Here are some more pests that like to feed on eggplant leaves and could also cause curling, wilted yellow leaves, or leaves that look like they’re chewed up and dying. Some of these pests include:
- Cucumber beetles
- Potato beetles
If your eggplant has curling leaves, it’s crucial to identify the cause of this problem so it can be effectively treated.
There could be a few different culprits: overwatering or underwatering, insect damage, or even a plant disease like the dangerous wilt virus.
However, by looking closely at the curling leaves, you can accurately identify the problem.
Then, you can use various methods to treat it, like allowing the soil to dry out before watering each time or applying insecticidal soap to get rid of insects.
With these methods, your eggplant will go from sad-looking with curled up and yellow leaves to a beautiful and healthy plant with its trademark dark green and fuzzy leaves.
Then, you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labors: delicious eggplants for dinner!
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.