Why are the flowers falling off my tomato plants

holding dropped tomato blossoms

My tomato plant grew to over 5 feet high, and produced many flowers, not one single flower turned into ANY type of tomato. I was extremely disappointed as this is the one vegetable I love to eat fresh.

They did not lack water as I made sure they were always maintained. I also gave them Miracle Grow tomato fertilizer and bought a special dirt to plant them in when I received them. As I mentioned, this is the one thing I look forward to every year. I look forward to your response to learn why I never got any tomato. As soon as the flower would fall off, normally this is when the tomato begins growing, nothing came. I appreciate your time and help. Thanks, Darlene

Answer:

Darlene, I’m very sorry you did not get to enjoy lots of great, juicy tomatoes this year. Without having witnessed your season, I am going to take a stab at this and label it a condition called blossom drop. The flowers of the tomato are actually pretty picky about temperature and pollination and they vary from variety to variety. Generally they will not pollinate or develop if daytime temps exceed 92 degrees and nighttime temps are above 68 degrees. Temperatures falling below 55 degrees in the evening can also inhibit pollination, which is why it is important to not set them out too early. It seems the heirloom or older varieties are more sensitive to temperature extremes.

If you’ve had an extended period of warm days, it will aggravate the situation, as will hot, dry wind and low humidity. Dry soil can also cause poor fruit-set, so make sure that you mulch the plants and water deeply once or twice a week.

Another factor might be too much shade: make sure they are receiving at least six hours of full sun daily.

You mentioned your tomato plants were quite vigorous growers and that you added a “special” soil and fertilized them often. There is also the possibility that you have given them way too much nitrogen, meaning lots of plant activity but few blooms that fruit. Even though Miracle Grow fertilizer is supposed to be balanced for the plant, it’s 18-18-21, meaning high nitrogen and high phosphorous and even higher potassium. The nitrogen makes the plant grow lots of leaves, the phosphorous is for blooms, and the potassium is for root development and photosynthesis. Plus, I am guessing the soil was a compost or manure mixture which will also supply lots of nitrogen to your plants. It’s very possible you may have thwarted bloom development by trying to be nice to the plants.

Add your compost to your soil this fall. Mix it in thoroughly and let it sit over the winter. Next spring add a small amount of Plant-tone 5-3-3 to the garden bed when you prep for planting. Add some organic mulch around the plants and then just let them grow, water as needed when nature doesn’t provide enough moisture, and fertilize sparingly with a higher phosphorous fertilizer to encourage blooming, adding nitrogen only if your plants are looking a little pale or yellowish or are not growing vigorously. If the temperatures are above average, back off the chemical fertilizers and switch to a milder organic variety. The hot weather will cause the tomato plants to be under stress and they can’t absorb the nutrients properly.

Oh yes: stop being so nice to them 🙂

Hope this helps, and better luck next summer.

Karen

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Karen Lindsey
    July 16, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Hi,
    I planted several different varieties of tomato plants and they are all doing great, except for my Pink Brandywine Heirloom tomato plants. The plants are 5 feet high, with tons of dried up, nipped or fallen blossoms. Do you have suggestions on what I might try to get these plants to produce? Thank you.

    • Reply
      jstutzman
      August 10, 2017 at 7:38 am

      Karen, have they started producing yet? Joe

  • Reply
    marge
    April 12, 2019 at 7:07 am

    I am having a similar problem. that are not in the ground were inside the patio blossoms dropped I put it out door and nothing
    is happening perhaps I should return it to Home Depot but I am anxious to solve the problem my self.
    what can I do

    • Reply
      jstutzman
      July 3, 2019 at 8:56 am

      Marge, unfortunately the weather plays a big part in this issue. If your plant has at least 6 hours of sun and plenty of moisture then there is only one thing you can do to help remedy this, and that is to purchase a product called Blossom Set Spray. It will help if you use it regularly. All the best, Joe

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