Starting a fruit and vegetable garden is an exciting time for anyone who looks forward to home-grown produce, especially tomatoes. Being patient is a large part of this process, but patience often invokes many questions. Once you see your tomato plant flower, you know fruiting is not far off. When does a tomato grow after flowering?
25-60 days can be the amount of time your plant takes to fully form the fruit after flowering, depending on conditions. Growing your own tomatoes from seed to harvest can take up to 135 days, depending on growing conditions and the tomato variety used.
Read on to find out more about the growth stages of tomato plants and for tips on troubleshooting your tomato plant if it flowers but does not fruit.
What are the stages of growth for tomatoes?
|Growth Stage||Days spent at this stage|
The average timeline of tomato growth, starting from seed and ending at harvest.
Starting from seeds instead of seedlings can add a month of grow time (plus extra effort) to the process of growing your tomato plant. The benefit of starting from seeds is having a wider variety of tomatoes in your garden, but starting from established seedlings does cut out a lot of the tedious nature of setting seeds.
Once your seed has sprouted and begun to grow leaves, you can expect another few weeks to a month at this stage before your plant has grown robust enough to start flowering. After this point, you likely will want to harden off your plant and transition it to a sunny spot outside.
The flowering stage can last up to a month, and this period is when your plant will likely need the most attention, nutrients, and water, as this process is very energetically demanding. Pollination must occur at this stage for your plant to produce fruit, so if you see bees near your plants, you know you’re in good company.
Once your plant begins to set flowers, remove the side shoots that develop on your plant so energy can be more focused on establishing a more robust stem and root system. You will likely want to stake or cage your tomato to help support the plant and keep future growth off the ground.
Continue caring for your plant and observing it for any pests or abnormal growth. The plant will likely spend another month at this stage to continue to grow and ripen the fruits until they are ready to be harvested.
Your fruit will continue maturing on the vine, so time is crucial as you do not want over-ripe fruits or for your tomatoes to get too much water and then burst. The optimal time to harvest your tomatoes is at the “breaker” stage, where the tomato is about half green and half pink.
Tomatoes continue ripening off the vine, so picking them before they are perfect will give you the best tomato experience. One can ripen tomatoes off the vine by placing them on a sunny windowsill until the desired color is achieved.
What should I do with tomato plants when they start flowering?
Flowering can occur early while your plant hasn’t yet developed extensive roots. Pinching off the first few flowers that appear will help your plant put more energy into growing a stronger stalk and root system, leading to a healthier, more productive plant.
Once your plant has grown robust with a healthy central stalk, you can begin to allow the flowers to proceed to the fruiting stage. Continue to be mindful of providing enough water and fertilizer throughout the flowering stage so your plant can set out healthy fruits.
Otherwise, caring for your flowering tomato plants is not too different than caring for them when it had only vegetation, especially once it is a mature plant.
Why are my tomatoes flowering but not fruiting?
Tomato plants can grow well into the flowering stage, then drop their blooms without producing fruit. The most common causes of this are a lack of nutrition before/during the flowering stage or a lack of pollination, causing the fruit never to form.
Tomatoes are self-pollinating plants, though this doesn’t stop pollinators from dropping by. If conditions aren’t right, self-pollination or insect pollination can prevent the pollen from being released or sticking to the plant. It is best to grow tomatoes in warm, sunny conditions during the late spring and early summer. Hot or cold spells can prevent these flowers from releasing their pollen, not to mention pollinators such as bees are less active in these conditions.
If you’ve not been fertilizing, you might need to do this with a good vegetable fertilizer. You will want to avoid nitrogen-heavy fertilizers during the flowering stage, as this will encourage more foliage growth than flower or fruit production.
If all the growing conditions are met, and you’ve taken good care of your plant during its earlier stages, your tomato plant might need a gentle shake to help release pollen and drop it onto lower flowers. You can also use a small, soft paintbrush to hand-pollinate your plants or a small fan near your plant to mimic the wind if you are growing indoors or in a greenhouse.
How can you tell if a tomato flower has been pollinated?
A sign of pollination in your tomato flower is swelling occurring at the base of the flower, where fruit develops after the bloom has fallen off the plant. It takes around 24-48 hours after pollination for the flower to wilt. Fallen blooms that appear weakened or soft at the base of where the flower was indicate that the flower has likely not been pollinated.
A promising sign that your flowers will be pollinated is, of course, the presence of bees. Additionally, tomatoes can be pollinated by the wind and by hand and are self-pollinating. Therefore, the chances are high that your plant will be pollinated and that garden-fresh tomatoes are in your future.
It is vital to maintain the proper level of care your tomatoes need throughout their growing season, especially during the crucial flowering phase. Without flowers, there is no way for pollination to occur, as this is what ultimately produces fruits.
To grow your tomatoes, fertilizing and watering appropriately and having a bright, sunny location are all imperative to getting your plant to the stage of flowering. This gives way to fruiting and then a bountiful harvest at the end of the season. The presence of pollinators is a pleasant sign of knowing you are doing something good for your local ecosystem and your tastebuds by having fresh, garden-grown tomatoes at the ready during the summer season.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
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