Tomato Problems: Blossoms Drying Up and Weather Stress

I have received several emails lately asking why the blossoms are drying up and falling off before making little tomatoes. Without actually seeing the conditions they are growing in, I can only guesstimate.

As farmers and gardeners, one of the worst things we face, is that we can’t control Mother Nature. Here in Eastern Washington, the weather has been crazy, cold one day and hot the next. We are talking 20 – 30 degree jumps over the course of a couple of days. This stresses the plants. They don’t know whether they are coming or going. The good news is that if you give it time and just wait, they will eventually come out of it. When it is cool, they work on root development, which is a good thing, and then when it is hot, they starting growing again. When it gets really hot and stays that way, you will lose blossoms on some varieties. Tomatoes don’t actually love super hot weather. Some less than others. That’s why they grow special varieties that can handle the heat in southern climes like Florida.

The second reason you might have blossom drop could be lack of pollination. If they don’t get pollinated they won’t form a tomato. (Have you ever seen little squashes that start turning yellow without getting any bigger? That is lack of pollination) Tomatoes are self pollinating. Wind and the bees are prime pollinators. That’s why I like to plant flowers that attract bees around my tomato plants. Not to mention it is pretty. One thing you can do to help things out is to take a Q-Tip or a paint brush and move from blossom to blossom, sharing the pollen.

Take heart, it’s only June, well almost July and things are moving right along. Keep them watered and fertilized (although not too much nitrogen (the first number in the ratio) or you will have beautiful bushes and no tomatoes) and you will be picking tomatoes soon enough.