Tomato Flowers Falling Off? 10 Reasons and How to Fix

It can be extremely frustrating to see your tomato flowers falling off especially when everything seems to be alright in your garden.  This can ultimately result in low yields and financial losses. I have highlighted several reasons why tomato flowers are falling off the vine and how to fix the problem.

Tomato blossom drop can be caused by many issues including extreme temperatures, low or high humidity, overproduction, pests and diseases, inadequate light, high winds, poor supply of nutrients, and lack of pollination.

Why are my tomato flowers falling off?

Different problems can cause tomato blossom drop. Some can be controlled while others may be difficult. They include the following:

1. Extreme temperatures

Too high or too low temperatures are the common cause of blossom drops in your tomato garden. Tomato plants require optimal temperatures to grow healthy and produce high yields. It also helps in the process of pollination.

However, high temperatures of above 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and below 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the night cause the tomato blossoms to drop from the vines before forming the fruits. Low temperatures also result in poor development of tomato blossoms.   

2. High or low humidity

Humidity plays a key role in the entire health of your tomato plants. Tomato plants require the right amount of humidity in the air to grow healthy and produce high yields. Excess humidity creates ample conditions for the growth of fungal infections. It also hinders the process of pollination by clamping the pollen within the flowers of a tomato plant.

On the other hand, low humidity causes the pollen to become sticky and hence unable to dislodge during the process of pollination. Therefore, the flowers are likely to fall off without being pollinated. Unfortunately, there is little you can do to help your tomato plant.

3. Lack of pollination

Although tomatoes can pollinate themselves, they require bees, wind, and other pollinators and help and improve the process of pollination. They help to dislodge the pollen grains from the stamens and pass them to the stigma.

The bumblebees are good at pollinating tomatoes. Contractions from their flight muscles cause small vibrations that dislodge the pollen from the male part of the flower and release them onto the female part known as the stigma.

When growing tomatoes indoors or in a greenhouse, ensure the windows are open or create vents that will allow bees and other pollinators to come in.

As mentioned earlier, tomato plants are self-fertile, they can pollinate themselves. However, this process requires free air circulation. Poor air circulation around the plant may hinder the process of pollination. The pollen will not be able to fall and fertilize the stigma.

Air circulation can be improved by planting your tomatoes at a correct spacing, pruning the excessive foliage, trellising your plants, and not planting tomatoes near a structure that prevents free air movement.

With all said, you can also help the plant to pollinate itself by literally shaking the plant a bit. Alternatively, you can use a soft paintbrush to dab on the pollen and move it to the stigma. Be sure not to cross-pollinate your tomato plants.

4. Excess or inadequate nitrogen

Applying excess nitrogen on your tomato plants can also cause blossom drop. Excess nitrogen causes the foliage to grow more at the expense of flowers and fruits. Excess nitrogen causes the tomato stems to become thin and elongated and hence unsuitable for the support of flowers and fruits.

Nitrogen is important, especially during the early growth of your tomato plants. It encourages the growth of green leaves which plays a key role in the process of photosynthesis. Consider using low-nitrogen fertilizers when the tomato plant nears maturity. Go for fertilizers that are rich in phosphorus and potassium. They promote flowering and good fruiting.

On the other hand, insufficient nitrogen and other nutrients like phosphorus and potassium in the soil can cause stunted growth in your tomato plants. The plant becomes stressed and focuses on its survival alone hence dropping off the flowers.

5. Inadequate or excess water

The fact that tomato plants do well during the summer season doesn’t mean they don’t need water. To get high yields, tomato plant requires adequate water. The water should not be excess or too little. Inadequate water causes the plant to wilt and hence drop off the blossoms.

It is recommended to water your tomato plants early in the morning before the sun rises. It helps to minimize the rate of evaporation and ensures the plant has enough water to use throughout the day. The sun also helps to dry off any spillage on the leaves which also helps reduce cases of tomatoes splitting or cracking.

Water deeply near the base to ensure the plant roots get sufficient water. Avoid overhead watering as it encourages the spread of diseases. You are required to water more often during the hotter temperatures. Applying mulch around the plants can also help to preserve water by minimizing the rate of evaporation.

6. Pests and diseases

An outbreak of pests and diseases in your tomato garden can also result in blossoms falling off. When a tomato plant is fighting bacterial or fungal diseases while being attached by aphids and other pests, it drops the flowers for its survival.

When it comes to pests and diseases, prevention is better than cure. Planting tomatoes in the same area in your field or garden encourages the breeding of pests and diseases, be sure to practice rotational cropping.

When watering your tomatoes, especially in the evening, be sure to direct the water to the base of the plant near the soil. Minimize wetting up the leaves. When the leaves stay wet overnight, it encourages the growth of fungus.

7. Overproduction

A tomato plant can produce too many flowers that end up competing for nutrients. The plant may abort some of the flowers as a preservation mechanism to save on some nutrients for its survival. This problem normalizes after the plant goes through the fruiting process as long as the soil has enough nutrients.

Tomato plants require a lot of energy, especially during the fruiting stage. You can add some organic fertilizer to your field if in doubt about its fertility.

8. Inadequate light

Tomato plants require at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day to grow healthy and produce high yields. Planting your tomatoes in an area that receives less than 6 hours of light per day means that they will have poor development of flowers. They may dry and wither off without forming fruits.

When practicing indoor gardening, be sure to set them in a location that is near a big window. Alternatively, you can provide artificial lights that will ensure the presence of sufficient light.

9. High winds

High and dry winds can be detrimental to the health of your tomato plants. It increases the rate of evaporation and the spread of pests and diseases. Stress on the tomato plant can cause the flowers to drop off before developing into fruits.

10. Poor genetics

There are different tomato varieties designed to suit particular climatic conditions. Planting a tomato variety with poor genetics can cause the blossoms to drop off before setting in the fruits. Be sure to plant a variety that is suitable to the climatic conditions of your area.

How to stop tomatoes from dropping flowers

Dropping blossoms is not among the things you would wish to happen in your garden. It simply means you are not going to have any fruit from your toil. However, there are techniques you can employ to prevent or stop the tomatoes from dropping the flowers:

  • Grow tomato varieties that are suitable to the climatic conditions of your area. There are tomato varieties designed for different weather and climatic conditions. For instance, some varieties can tolerate less light as compared to others.
  • Ensure your tomato plants are healthy throughout the season. Healthy plants mean that they are free from pests and diseases, receive adequate water, nutrients, and sunlight, and are well maintained.
  • Water your tomato plants regularly. Poor watering habits have detrimental effects on your tomato plants. Shallow watering causes the plant to become weak, have stunted growth, and hence prone to pests and diseases.
  • Do not over-fertilize your tomato plants. Although tomatoes are heavy feeders, it doesn’t mean that you over-feed them with fertilizers. Go easy especially on nitrogen during the flowering stage. Perform a simple soil test to determine the exact nutrients that may be inadequate.
  • Aide in the process of pollination. Tomatoes are self-fertile but some conditions may hinder the process of pollination. Wind, bees, butterflies, and other insects help in the process of pollination when tomatoes are grown in the field. However, those grown indoors require a bit of shaking to dislodge the pollen.
  • Provide shade to your tomatoes in extreme temperatures. Providing a temporal shade to your tomatoes helps to prevent the plant from the scorching effects of the sun. You can use a shade cloth especially when the temperatures are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Practice crop rotation. Do not plant the nightshade family plants i.e. tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers in the same area of your garden throughout the year. It causes the buildup of pests and diseases that eventually attack your crops.
  • Plant at a correct spacing. Overcrowding tomato plants results in competition for nutrients and other natural resources. It also prevents free air circulation that can hinder pollination and provides ample conditions for fungal growth.
  • Keep the humidity in check. Tomato plants require humidity that ranges between 40% and 70%. High or low humidity interferes with pollination. Although not advisable you can water the foliage of your tomatoes during the day if the humidity is too low.

In some cases, blossom drop may be a good thing when the plant has overproduced. It helps to prevent competition for nutrients that could have resulted in smaller but many fruits.

Should I remove dead tomato flowers?

It may be confusing what to do with the dead tomato flowers. Naturally after pollination, the flower normally develops into a fruit. When there is no pollination or when the plant is stressed, the flowers may drop without forming a fruit.

There is no need picking off the dead tomato flowers from the plant. The plant has its own mechanism of shedding off dead flowers and other parts like dry leaves that it no longer needs.

Final Thoughts

Planting the right variety of tomatoes at a correct spacing, watering properly, applying fertilizer correctly, and controlling pests and diseases together with other proper care and maintenance, you should have less chance of flowers falling off before fruiting.


Problems with Pollination in High Tunnel Tomatoes – University of Maryland ExtensionTomato Challenges – University of Arizona Yavapai County Cooperative Extension

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