Why Won’t My Tomato Plants Produce Fruit?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shutterstock / Otto Born

No tomatoes taste better than the ones you grow at home. Growing tomatoes sounds easy on paper, but many variables make it challenging. So, why won’t my tomato plants produce fruit?

Your tomato plants won’t produce fruit if the temperature stays above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for several days. Excessive heat makes it hard for the plant to process nutrients. Tomatoes also rely on 8 hours of consistent sunlight each day to produce fruit. Water your tomato plants daily and make sure the soil stays consistently damp to encourage fruit growth.

Tomato plants can pollinate themselves, but you can encourage growth if you have pollinators around. Plant a pollinator garden to encourage bees and butterflies to help your tomatoes grow. Follow along as we explore why your tomato plants won’t produce fruit.

How Long Does It Take For Tomato Plants To Bear Fruit?

It can take up to 100 days for tomato plants to bear fruit. The timeline depends on factors such as sunlight exposure and your watering habits. Germination, the first stage, takes up to 8 days before tomato plants stay in the early growth phase for 4-5 weeks.

Next, the vines and roots will grow for roughly 20 days. The flowering and pollination stages each take 20-30 days or longer. Be patient when you first see the fruit appear, as it will take a while it to grow and ripen.

You can expect the fruit to grow for 30 or more days. It may take up to 20 days for the tomatoes to ripen, but it’s well worth it. Of course, the process can take longer or go by faster depending on the climate and your garden setup.

Why Isn’t My Tomato Plant Producing Fruit?

Whether it be excessive heat or a lack of water, many things can hold your tomato plant back. Tomato plants can’t bear fruit unless the growing conditions are ideal. Let’s look at the main causes and fixes for a tomato plant that won’t produce fruit.

1. Humidity Problems

Humidity is a touchy part of growing tomatoes. The pollen won’t cling to the plant if the humidity is too low. Conversely, the pollen will become too dense if the humidity level is too high.

Ideally, you should aim for a humidity level of between 40% and 70% for optimal growth. This will help with every stage from early growth and pollination to fruiting. It’s easy to control the humidity level if your tomato plants are inside.

You can simply set up a humidifier or dehumidifier to balance the humidity level. Buy a humidity detector, so you can check the level and adjust your humidifier or dehumidifier. Of course, you’re at the mercy of the local climate if you grow your tomatoes outside.

2. Excessive Heat

It’s no secret that extreme heat is bad for fruit-bearing plants. Tomato plants may suffer if the temperature stays above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for too long. This doesn’t happen right away, however, but the ripening process will suffer if the heat lasts for several days.

The flowers will struggle to pollinate if the heat becomes too extreme. It’s also harder to keep up with watering tomato plants during a stretch of extreme heat. Plants can’t process their food reserves when the temperatures stay consistently high.

The same can be said for extremely cold temperatures. Tomatoes will stop growing altogether if the temperature stays at 35 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for a few days. The growth will slow down even if the temperature drops to 50 degrees.

3. Insufficient Pollination

Pollinators are vital to any garden. Tomato plants rely on pollinators to help kick start their growth, so they can eventually produce fruit. There are other ways around this, but pollinators like bees and butterflies make pollination much easier.

Unfortunately, your tomato plants won’t have access to pollinators if you keep them inside. Move your tomato plants outside and create a pollinator garden to encourage growth. You can attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies with plants like marigolds, phlox, and goldenrod.

Not only will the pollinator garden help your tomatoes grow, but it will also look beautiful. While tomatoes are self-pollinating, they still rely on pollinators in many cases. Poor airflow can make it hard for tomatoes to pollinate themselves. That’s why it’s important to encourage pollination with the help of pollinators.

4. Pest Problems

Like most plants in your garden, tomatoes are vulnerable to many pests. Everything from aphids and flea beetles to cutworms can affect your tomatoes. Pests can target your tomato plants at any stage of growth, and this can prevent fruit growth.

Even animals like deer and rabbits can target your tomatoes because they are so low to the ground. That’s why it’s important to protect your tomato plants with cages and cones. This will create a barrier between your tomatoes and the animals that try to eat them.

It’s also a good idea to plant some basil right next to your tomatoes. The strong scent of basil is enough to ward off many pests that are drawn to tomatoes. You will also enjoy the added benefit of some fresh basil to eat along with your tomatoes.

5. Excessive Nitrogen

Nitrogen is one of many key nutrients necessary for tomato plants to thrive. However, excessive nitrogen can have the opposite effect, and the plant may not produce fruit. You can often tell that your tomato plant is too nitrogen-rich if the leaves become especially dark green.

A great way to balance this out is to add organic brown materials to the soil. Straw and leaves can help balance the nutrients within the soil. It’s also important to read the label on any bag of fertilizer you buy.

Fertilizer bags state how much nitrogen they have. Some fertilizers contain manure that isn’t as processed as it should be. Unprocessed manure contains a ton of nitrogen, and that can be bad news for your tomato plants.

6. Your Tomatoes Don’t Get Enough Light

Your tomato plants won’t bear fruit if they don’t get consistent sunlight. Some fruit-bearing plants can handle partial shade, but tomatoes typically need full sunlight. Carefully watch your garden and pay attention to which spots get consistent sunlight throughout the day.

Ideally, you should plant your tomatoes in a spot where the sun shines for 8 hours per day. They can handle as little as 6 hours of sunlight, but you should aim for as much as possible. Consistent sunlight paired with enough water should have you see fruit in 100 days or less.

7. Not Enough Water

Water is just as vital as sunlight if you want your tomato plants to bear fruit. You must typically water your tomatoes daily unless you live in a cool climate. Ideally, you should water your tomatoes enough so the soil becomes damp up to 8” below the surface.

It’s important to find a balance so you don’t oversaturate the soil. The roots won’t be able to absorb all of the water, and it will go to waste. Excessive water can also cause fungus to grow, and that can damage the roots.

The flowers will wilt if you don’t water your tomatoes enough. Water your tomatoes daily and make sure the leaves aren’t curled. If the leaves curl inward, it’s a sign that the plant is dehydrated.

Summing It Up

Your tomato plants won’t produce fruit if the humidity level isn’t between 40% and 70%. It’s also vital to water them daily and put them in a spot where they get 8 hours of sunlight. Don’t use fertilizers that contain too much nitrogen or your tomato plants may not bear fruit. Make sure to put a cage around your tomatoes to protect them from pests.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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