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Many blooms, little fruit

by Anderson Clark
(Nashville, TN)

Q. I have 8 plants grown from seeds, now in pots of varying sizes. Stems strong; leaves green, blooms a many for last 4 weeks. However, the blooms do not seem to issue in fruit. I have some 10 tomatoes at this point in Tennessee growing season. I water regularly in late afternoon, early evening and try to keep soil moist. I water heavily, usually daily, especially if leaves show signs of shriveling from a full day in hot sun. Why do blooms not issue forth fruit?

A. Normally, a tomato blossom is pollinated and then fruit develops. This is called “setting fruit.”

But sometimes, a healthy tomato plant flowers, its blossoms drop, and no fruit develops. This is called “blossom drop”. It's a result of plant stress or poor pollination.

There are at least 5 conditions that can lead to blossom drop.

  1. Extreme temperatures (too hot or too cold)
  2. Poor pollination
  3. Stress
  4. Improper fertilization
  5. Too many blossoms

Since your tomato plants are on a regular watering schedule, it is unlikely that water stress is contributing much to your plants' blossom drop issue.

Excessive temperatures are a main culprit in blossom drop. Cool nights (consistently below 55ºF) or hot spells (days consistently about 90ºF and nights consistently above 75ºF) force the tomato plant to abandon fruit production and focus merely on surviving. Tomatoes’ optimum daytime temperature range for setting fruit is between 70º-85ºF.

While you cannot control the weather, you can encourage pollination. When blossoms emerge, mimic the work of wind and insects by gently shaking plants to spread pollen. You can also help pollination by planting flowers that attract insects among tomatoes. In dry areas, help pollen stick by misting tomato plants.

You can also encourage pollination and blossom set by applying tomato blossom set spray.

Get plenty of more details about tomato blossom drop.

Good Luck and Happy Gardening!
Your friends at Tomato Dirt

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