Imagine you’re in your garden looking for a ripe tomato to pick, and you notice a few green tomatoes on the ground near one of the plants. How disappointing! Why do my tomatoes fall off the vine?
Stress to your tomato plant can cause tomatoes to drop off the plant before they’re ripe. This stress can result from extreme temperatures, too little or too much water, nutrient deficiencies, pests, or even too much fruit on the plant.
Now that you know why your tomatoes are falling off the vine, you may have other questions. Let’s dive in to learn more about the causes of those tomatoes falling, what you can do about it, and much more!
Why Are Tomatoes Dropping Off the Plant?
As you read above, there are several reasons for tomatoes falling off the plant before they’re ripe. When a plant starts dropping its tomatoes, it indicates that it’s stressed and something isn’t right.
The plant is trying to protect itself from an unfavorable environment and survive. By dropping some of its tomatoes, it can keep the energy that would have been used to ripen the fruit for itself.
We’ll go over each of the possible causes for the falling fruit and what can be done to prevent it.
Tomatoes need warm temperatures to grow and produce ripe, juicy tomatoes. If the weather goes above or below the required temperature range, tomatoes will likely start dropping off the vine.
Here are early signs that your tomato plant is experiencing a too cold or too hot environment:
- Tomatoes dropping off
- Leaves wilting or even becoming dry and crispy
- Blossoms dropping off
Tomatoes’ ideal temperatures are:
Daytime: 65-85 degrees F
Nighttime: 60-70 degrees F
A cold snap or a heatwave can stress the plant and cause tomatoes to fall off. Several nights in a row with below 55-degree temperatures will cause the tomatoes to drop off.
If you have a greenhouse, you can grow your tomatoes in it to avoid extremes in the temperature. If not, you can use row covers during low temperatures to prevent your plants from getting too cold.
If you have high temperatures in the summer where you live, it’s recommended to use shade cloth for your tomato plants for the hottest part of the day. Shade cloth is a mesh fabric that blocks a percentage of light from the sun. Most gardeners use a shade cloth that blocks 30-50% of the sunlight.
Underwatering or Overwatering
Too little or too much water will cause your tomato plant to be stressed and tomatoes to fall off.
Many people do not understand how much water a tomato plant requires. It’s needed to provide strong stems as well as juicy tomatoes.
If your plant is too dry, the fruit may be dropped so that the plant can conserve its moisture and prevent it from going to the tomatoes. The first sign of lack of water is wilting leaves. The plant may fall over from the weight of the fruit as the stem loses moisture and can no longer support itself.
If your plant is too wet, the roots can become waterlogged and rot. The leaves will wilt and turn yellow, and the tomatoes will fall off.
It’s best to water the plants deeply and less frequently to prevent a shallow root system. Water in the morning close to the soil to minimize evaporation, avoiding the leaves to prevent fungus. Mulch will help prevent the top of the soil from drying out too soon.
If you have many tomato plants, a drip irrigation system will make it easier to water them.
Not Enough Nutrients
Tomatoes need nutrients to grow big, juicy tomatoes. Without sufficient nutrients, the plant won’t be able to support all its fruit and will drop some of them.
Phosphorus is required for the development of flowers and fruit. Potassium is necessary for the plant’s health overall. Young plants need nitrogen, but once the plant is producing blossoms and tomatoes, too much can affect the fruit production, and the tomatoes may be dropped.
If the leaves turn yellow, the plant can’t produce enough chlorophyll. If the yellow leaves are at the top, it can mean insufficient iron. Iron sulfate or chelated iron can be added. If the bottom leaves are yellow, it can mean not enough magnesium. Add magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salts.
Blossom end rot, where the bottom of the tomato turns brown or black, is caused by a lack of calcium. Lime can be added for this.
Check the pH of the soil before adding fertilizers. It should be slightly acidic, 6-6.8. Above or below this range can be a sign of insufficient nutrients.
Feed your tomato plants once a month with a slow-release fertilizer or every 7-14 days with a liquid one.
Too Many Tomatoes on the Plant
A tomato plant can have too many tomatoes on it. The plant can only support so many tomatoes at once, given its available water and nutrients. The plant may start to drop tomatoes to preserve the remaining ones.
It can get top heavy or fall over, or a branch can break due to too many tomatoes growing on it. You can pick some tomatoes, pinch off, or prune branches to prevent the plant from tipping over. Using a stake, trellis, or a tomato cage will support the plant as it grows and produces tomatoes.
Pest, such as aphids, can infest your plants and cause the tomatoes to fall off. They attack the plant’s stems, taking nutrients and water from it.
You can prune the affected branches and dispose of them. Plants such as marigolds, basil, or garlic can be planted among your tomato plants to repel the aphids. This practice is known as companion planting. Natural pesticides are another option, as well as buying and releasing ladybugs into the garden.
What to Do With Tomatoes That Fall off the Vine?
You can use the green tomatoes that have fallen off to make tomato chutney, tomato relish, or fried green tomatoes.
If they have started to turn red, you can put them on a windowsill or shelf. If the tomatoes are green, put them in a paper bag in a warm place. The ethylene gas they give off will promote ripening. You can add a banana or an apple to help speed up the process. Every couple of days, check the tomatoes. They should be ripe in about seven days.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular garden vegetables. A freshly picked tomato tastes much better than a store-bought tomato. You’ll want to enjoy every tomato your plants produce.
You’ve learned several causes of tomatoes falling off the vine. And you’ve learned ways to manage the problems and prevent falling tomatoes in the future.
Now, if you find tomatoes that have fallen off the vine, you’ll know what to look for to determine the reason. Fixing the problem may not yield immediate results, but you will have more ripe tomatoes to enjoy than if you didn’t know what to do.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
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