Are you getting plenty of flowers on your tomato vines but no fruits? You’re not alone – many tomato growers have the same complaint. It is understandably heartbreaking to see your tomato plants flowing but not producing any tomatoes after all those months of care and love you have given to the crop. If your tomato flowers are blooming but not setting fruit don’t worry the fix isn’t too tricky most of the time. Once you catch the root cause and make the necessary fix, you can get your tomato plant to producing those ripe, juicy vegetables you have been craving for so long.
If your plants are blooming but not setting fruit, one of the following could be blamed:
1. Tomato Flowers Not Setting Fruit Due To Inadequate Pollination
Most plants rely on birds, bees, butterflies, and insects to help them pollinate and set fruit. Tomatoes are self-pollinating plants. Each plant has both male and female parts. Male parts drop pollen grains on the female parts to fertilize and set fruit on them. If your tomato flowers are blooming but not setting fruit it could be down to inadequate pollination.
However, self-fertilization isn’t always enough to produce the expected harvest. The presence of pollinators, like bees, give plants the little push they need (literally), to break free the pollens and drop it down on the stigma, which is the female part.
Lets look at ways to fix inadequate pollination:
Wait for suitable weather
Often, bees won’t participate too actively in cold, wet, or windy weather. Let the unsuitable weather pass, and hopefully, the bees will return to work. Your tomato plants will be able to set fruit.
Improve Access For Pollinators
If you’re growing tomatoes in a greenhouse, it’s possible that beneficial insects can’t find their way to the plants. Open up the doors and vents to let bees and insects in the place to do their job.
Give Them A Jerk
Artificial pollinating the plants by hand is often a great idea to get things going again. Give the flowers a little jerk or gentle flick with your fingers, just enough to release the pollens. Be careful not to harm the delicate blooms in the process. Once you’ve done your part, just sit back and wait for nature to handle it from here.
2.Tomato Flowers Not Setting Fruit Due To High Temperatures
Another reason for your tomato flowers not setting fruit might be due to temperature. Tomato plants flourish between 65° to 70°F. Tomato plants love warmth, but too much heat can be a problem. Pollination will slow down in hot spells since the excess heat can make the pollens infertile. Infertile pollens won’t fertilize the stamens, and the plants won’t set fruit.
Here are some things you can do to help:
Choose The Correct Variety
Not every variety will be well-suited to your region. Get seeds from a local garden center and choose the ones that are well-adapted to your climate. If temperatures are expected to rise too high in your area, select heat-tolerant varieties to plant.
Water Them Well
While you wait for the hot temperatures to subside, keep the plants well-watered and nourished. If the plants are healthy enough, they’ll start producing again once the temperatures return to the suitable range.
Check Greenhouse Ventilation
If like me you grow your tomatoes in a greenhouse check that the ventilation is working. During a heatwave, I didn’t realize the automatic window opener was stuck so its worth double checking windows and ventilation. If you have really hot nights consider leaving the door open slightly to help bring the heat down.
3. Tomato Flowers Not Setting Fruit Because Of Unsuitable Humidity
Both high humidity and low humidity can prevent tomato plants from setting fruit. Too much moisture can bind the pollens together, preventing them from dropping freely onto the stigma. On the other hand, too little humidity will make the pollens too dry to settle on the stigma. Instead of staying to fertilize the stigma, they will roll right off, which again prevents the tomato flower setting fruit. In both these cases, the harvest will suffer.
Lets look at ways you can fix these two extremes.
Water Well In Case Of Little Humidity
If the humidity is low, water the plants thoroughly to make up for some of the moisture lacking in the air around the plants.
Artificial Pollination In Case Of High Humidity
If the tomato plants are in a high humidity climate, you can intervene by giving a little tap to the flowers. It will help to get the pollens to where they need to be.
4.Tomato Flowers Not Setting Fruit Due To Insufficient Air Circulation
Since tomatoes are self-pollinating plants, they rely on air to move pollen from the male parts to the female parts. Lack of ample air circulation will affect the plants’ ability to fertilize. One of the common causes of tomato flowers not setting fruit is air circulation. Plants growing too close to one another or spreading horizontally over the garden bed won’t allow enough airflow to the flowers.
- Choose an open site where the airflow to your plants won’t be obstructed.
- Allow enough space between individual plants for each one to breathe freely. Plant determinate varieties 12 to 24 inches apart and indeterminate varieties 36 to 48 inches apart.
- Install support for your plants to grow vertically. Vertically growing vines allow foliage and flowers to easily access air from all sides compared to horizontally growing ones.
When it comes to supporting tomatoes, string and twine are no good. I stopped using string when I found my tomato plants collapsed on more than one occasion. I use both wire and clips to support my tomatoes. both are re-usable year on year.
Control Horizontal Growth
Too many branches can also hinder the air supply to the plants. Don’t let your plants grow too bushy, or they’ll not be able to pollinate effectively. Pinch out the suckers as they sprout, so the plant focuses its energies on the flowers and fruits and allows air circulation.
5.Incorrect Or Inadequate Fertilization
The plants won’t produce those juicy, plump tomatoes out of nothing! They’ll need plenty of nutrients from the soil for an abundant harvest. Planting in rich, fertile soil is vital, but not enough. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, and they’ll soon use up all the nutrients that came from the compost you prepared the soil with before planting. If your tomato flowers not setting fruit fertilization is required throughout the growing season to keep the crop healthy. Not using any fertilizers, or failing to choose the correct fertilizer can be the cause of your fruitless tomato plants.
Once they set the first set of flowers, the plants will need an extra boost to keep up the production. They’ll need potassium-rich fertilizers at this stage to set fruit on the flowers. Use a high-potash fertilizer that has especially been formulated for tomatoes.
Remember not to feed it nitrogen, especially if your concern is fruiting. High-nitrogen fertilizers will promote green growth, but you’ll find little flowering and fruiting on the plants.
For the best tomato feed, you need both high potassium and low nitrogen. Look for specialist feeds such as Miracle-Gro as it has the right balance of nutrients specifically formulated for tomatoes.
Whatever may be the cause of unsatisfying results from your tomato crop, don’t give up just yet! There can be so many reasons for tomato flower blooms but no tomatoes and just as many fixes. Finding and addressing the issue might be a little frustrating, but once you’re rewarded with the plentiful, juicy tomatoes, it will all be worth it!