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[Tomato Dirt] Is It Too Hot for My Tomatoes? What To Do in a Heat Wave
July 04, 2012

Tomato Dirt Newsletter
Volume 2, Number 12

Dear Tomato Dirt reader,

Welcome back to Tomato Dirt! Once or twice a month, we’ll send you this newsletter packed with tips about growing tomatoes and using them.

Is It Too Hot for My Tomatoes … and What Should I Do in a Heat Wave?

Even though tomatoes are the classic summer plant, it’s natural for gardeners to think they suffer when temperatures are too hot.

Here’s the good news: a heat wave will not likely be fatal for your tomato plants, especially if you can keep them watered. And more good news … tomato fruit already on the vine and ripening will likely be OK when it’s super hot outside.

Unfortunately, tomato blossoms are another matter.

Two problems for tomatoes in a heat wave:

  1. It’s too hot for blossoms to be pollinated. That means your plants will have fewer fruit.
  2. Heat stress forces a plant to increase transpiration (pumping water through its system) to survive, especially when the heat continues for prolonged periods.

You can reduce stress on your plants during a heat wave by watering them at least once a day. Increase frequency of watering without increasing the amount of water the plants get to avoid water logging and killing the plants.

A second trick to managing tomato plants during a hot spell: give them shade! (Read the full article...)

What Should I Use to Shade My Tomatoes?


You can use many materials to shade plants. Some gardeners drape old sheets or burlap over supports. Some set lattice panels around tomato plants to diffuse light. These materials can keep some light off plants.

But shade cloth is a fabric constructed specifically for shading tomatoes. It keeps a larger amount of UV rays at bay and reduces the impact of light. Shade cloth is either knitted or woven. It's rated by a percentage figure, which indicates the amount of reduction in light it achieves. For instance, 50% shade cloth reduces the amount of light the plants receive by 50%. The cloth also achieves a reduction in temperature, usually about half the amount of light. 50% shade cloth will reduce heat by 25%.

Woven shade cloth, knitted shade cloth, aluminet shade cloth, and all-purpose garden fabricicon are available in different weights and sizes, depending upon what you need. (Read more about what to use to shade tomatoes …)

More on helping tomatoes through the heat…

Best Heat-Tolerant Tomato Varieties Best Techniques for Watering Tomato Plants Watering Tomatoes FAQs Am I Watering Tomatoes Enough?

For many, it's not too late to buy tomato plants

Heirloom and OP (open-pollinated) Tomato Varieties
Tomato Dirt recommends TomatoFest, which offers over 600 varieties.

Hybrid Tomato Varieties - Tomato HP Logo

For hybrid tomato seeds, we recommend Burpee, a leading home gardening and seed company since 1881. Shop for Tomatoes

That’s it for now. More next time!

Until then, happy gardening!

Kathy with Tomato Dirt
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