Posted on 18 March 2013 by

The Mystery of the Dropping Tomato Blooms

Photo Credit: Day 158-Tomato Bloom by Mark Sinderson used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo Credit: Day 158-Tomato Bloom by Mark Sinderson used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Picture this situation.

The sun is out and the early summer breeze is blowing through your hair.

You are so proud of yourself.

This year you did not procrastinate when it came to buying your tomato plants.

But since you bought them early, you now have to care for them until your local frost-free date.

Well, the weather has warmed, the sun is out, there is no prediction of any cool weather and what would it hurt to get a jump on the gardening season.

So to the garden shed you go. You get out the wheelbarrow, shovel, garden rake, watering hose and any other garden tool you may need to plant your tomatoes.

You also get out your garden plan and measure off the placement of the plants. Once this done, you begin the process of planting your tomatoes but…………

While the process of planting your tomato plants goes without a hitch, a week later there is a problem. The nighttime temperatures drop into the 40s and you notice your plants are suffering but the hope is still there that the harm will be minimal.

The weather clears and nighttime temperatures hover around 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Life is good and you cannot wait for the first fresh tomato. But as you water your plants one day you notice the blooms are dropping on the ground. At first, you think you are watering too hard so you change the nozzle. Then, you may think that it is weather related. The wind has been blowing hard. Well, part of this evaluation is correct. The blossom drop is caused by the weather but it is not wind nor rain or power of spray, it is the temperature.

Tomatoes respond to extreme temperature variations by dropping their blooms. This is especially true when the temperatures are too cold or those below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid this, one should always plant according to your local frost-free date. For those unique times when the weather acts out of seasonal whack, a simple cloche made from a jar, cut off bottle or old aquarium can be used to protect the plants from an unusual frost. If you use this later approach, make sure to remove the cover every morning before the sun comes up.

Keep in mind, that bloom drop is a natural process that any plant goes through to get rid of non-pollinated blooms. This simple process makes room for new blooms. If your plant is showing a mass exodus of blooms, then it is temperature not pollination related.

So until we blog again, the season may warm and the season may cool but always plant by your gardening calendar because you never know what nature will do.

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