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Why Are My Tomatoes Pale Green – 5 Leading Causes

Tomatoes have various colors and shades, but they are usually known for their bright, juicy red color. However, before they get to this point, all tomatoes are green. Sometimes you may notice your tomatoes staying green for way too long, and this is due to lack of ripening. This might leave you wondering; why are my tomatoes pale green?

Tomatoes can be pale green due to overwatering, overfeeding, and weather conditions. Cutting back on both water and feeds when they’ve reached the proper size will force the tomatoes to ripen and turn them red.

The rest of this article will teach you everything you need to know about ripening tomatoes. 

Why Are My Green Tomatoes Not Turning Red?

Getting your first tomato can be very exciting. It may seem like they’ve been green forever, but try to be patient! It can take up to almost three weeks for a tomato to ripen fully. If time is dragging on and your tomatoes are still green, there are a few reasons as to why this is happening. Overwatering and overfeeding are the leading causes, but your climate could also be at play. 

5 Reasons Your Tomatoes Plants Are Green

Let’s take a closer look at why your tomato plants are green.

  1. Overfeeding
  • When a tomato plant gives off a tomato, it’s technically its flower. It is also a sign that the plant is “dying” and that its season is coming to an end; thus, it needs to let off its fruit. A tomato plant loves to be fed a nitrogen-rich diet and plenty of fertilizer to get to this point. However, to push this process along, it’s essential to cut back on the feeds so the plant can spend more energy on producing its fruit. 
  1. Overwatering
  • Watering, very much like feeding, can be cut back drastically once the plant starts flowering. You can even wait to water until the plant’s leaves are wilting. Remember, all that water is being pushed to the fruit!
  1. Hot Weather
  • The two pigments involved in making a tomato red are called lycopene and carotene. When the weather gets too hot (above 85), the plant won’t produce these pigments. Tomatoes that are pale yellowish-green or orange are very common in extremely hot places for long periods.
  1. Cold Weather
  • The perfect weather for the perfect tomato is between 68-77. If the weather is below that, it may take a lot longer for your tomatoes to ripen, if they do at all. It is common for tomato plants to stay small with smaller fruit in colder weather.
  1. Variety
  • Green tomatoes are a highly sought after heirloom variety of tomato. There are many different kinds such as German Green, Cherokee Green, Green Zebra, and much more.

How Long Does it Take For Tomatoes to Ripen?

Typically, most varieties of tomato will take 15-20 days from blossom to full-sized fruit. If you have specific heirloom breeds, this time could differ. 

Should You Pick Green Tomatoes?

Depending on the time in the season, it is okay to pick your green tomatoes. If it is at the beginning of the season, try to leave your green tomatoes to see if they ripen up more. If the season is ending, or frost has started to show up after your warm summer, and you still have green tomatoes, it would be a good time to pick them before the plant dies. 

Sometimes green tomatoes will fall off at any point in the season, which is okay too! Grab them off the ground before they get rotten, and utilize them the best you can. You can even set them out on your kitchen counter in the sun to see if they will ripen up a little. 

10 Tips To Ripen Tomatoes

Here we have ten tips to get your tomatoes to ripen.

  1. Cut back on watering- Reduce your watering to encourage ripening
  2. Let it dry- Letting your plant dry out will send resources to the ripening fruit
  3. Remove dead/yellow leaves- The dead leaves no longer need energy; remove them to send energy to the rest of the plant
  4. Pinch off new flowers- New flowers means new fruit; if it’s too late in the season, there won’t amount to anything anyway; pinch them off to send energy to the other fruit
  5. Keep warm- If you live in a colder climate, cover your plants at night to keep heat in
  6. Send energy to bigger fruit- Pick the smaller fruit that is ready to make sure the bigger, better fruit gets all the help it needs
  7. Get rid of diseased leaves- Diseased leaves are dead leaves and no longer need the energy 
  8. Lowers- A great way to help the plant shoot up is to cut the lower little leaves on the bottom; this helps keep the plant groomed the energy directed in the right place
  9. Root pulling- Root pulling is a great technique used to remind the plant that the season is coming to an end and to hurry up the ripening process 
  10. Keep an eye- Check your plant daily and check for everything above to make sure you have a happy, healthy plant that is doing what it should be

My Red Tomatoes are Green on the Inside

There are many reasons why your red tomatoes are green on the inside. The most common being it wasn’t quite ripe yet. Your tomato should feel ever so slightly squishy but tender to the touch and have that vibrant red color all the way around.

Stress is another common reason that your tomatoes are green inside. If your plant goes a while without water, then gets a very heavy watering; this can stress out the plant. The same goes for if it is very hot and humid outside, then the weather snaps and gets colder one night. Well drained soil will help with this, and make sure you cover your plant at night if a cold snap is coming through. 

Lastly, potassium deficiencies will do this to your tomato plant. However, usually, this problem will also show itself on the outside and the inside of the tomato, leaving large white blotches all over the fruit. Making sure your plant has proper fertilization with the right nutrients will cease this problem. 

What To Do With Green Tomatoes?

Green tomatoes, believe it or not, can be so delicious! There are many wonderful recipes you can try that involve green tomatoes. Many salsas, soups, chutneys, and my favorite fried green tomatoes. You can also set your green tomatoes in a warm-ish sunny spot indoors and let the sun ripen your tomatoes. This works surprisingly well, but don’t forget to check them and remove them from this spot once they are ripe. You don’t want rotten tomatoes on your counter!

We’ve looked at all the reasons why tomatoes aren’t turning red. It is relatively easy to figure out the cause, from overwatering to hot weather. But, green tomatoes aren’t the end of the world! They can be picked and sun-dried or turned into a delicious soup, don’t just let them rot!