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Why tomatoes stop growing in hot weather

Updated on June 19, 2014
Patsybell profile image

I inherited my love of gardening from mother and grandmother. I am a garden blogger, freelance writer, and Master Gardener emeritus.

No blooms for hot tomatoes

blooms dry up and fall off in the heat.
blooms dry up and fall off in the heat. | Source

No more red tomatoes

When tomato plants are loaded with blooms, you may expect a bumper crop of juicy tomatoes. But plants will suffer during a heat wave and flowers dry up and fall off.

As temperatures climb above 95 degrees during the day and continue above 75 degrees at night, expect blossom drop. When evenings remain warm tomatoes suffer because the tomato plant never gets to rest. High night time temps are even worse than high daytime temperatures because the tomato plant never gets a chance to rest.

Plants go into survival mode as temperatures exceed 100 degrees. If fruits never become their usual bright red, it is because red pigments in tomatoes to stop forming. (The yellow and orange pigments continue.)

If your tomatoes are not turing red, go ahead and pick then as they begin to color and allow them to ripen indoors.

Fruit growth and ripening slow down when temperatures are above 90. So, even if you plant tomatoes known for their large fruits, the heat may hold back those record breakers. It's not the variety, it's the heat.

Pink Brandywine Heirloom Tomato

Brandywine: the standard by which all tomatoes are judged.
Brandywine: the standard by which all tomatoes are judged. | Source

More tomatoes in 5 weeks

A tomato flower matures to a ripe fruit in 5 weeks. The first 3 weeks the tomato is growing to it's full size. The fruit ripens in the next two weeks.

Tomatoes that have grown to full size in dry weather may suddenly start growing again if there is big rain or you start watering the plants again. Once the excessive heat is over, it will probably be 5 more weeks before you are picking more tomatoes.

A string of days over 90 degrees will cause more garden vegetables to drop blossoms, and go into survival mode, conserving it's resources. Crops like beans, squash, peppers, melons, and pumpkins will lose their blooms.

Sunscald looks like a large, whitish patch on the tomato during hot and dry weather. Leaves protect fruit from sunscald. Poor foliage cover as the fruit ripens.

Got other tomato problem? See The 5 Worst Tomato Problems Solved

Are your tomatoes cracking or splitting? See What causes tomatoes to crack?

Sun burned tomatoes

If your garden is experiencing sunscald, It is iimportant to protect your skin as well.
If your garden is experiencing sunscald, It is iimportant to protect your skin as well. | Source

Sun scalded tomatoes

More tomato problems

If it is hot enough to slow down tomato production. That may not be your only concern.

Sunscald happens when tomatoes are exposed to the direct rays of the sun during hot weather.

Tomatoes may not be the only sufferer in your garden. Peppers and also have the same problem. The treatments are the same for both tomatoes and peppers

When the tomato is exposed to heat and drought, conditions are right for this insightly damage.This brings up a consideration for folks who prune their tomatoes.

Heavy pruning and loss of foliage from disease, is the reason for sunscald. When the sun is shining directly on the fruit, conditions are right for sunscald. Ideally tomatoes (and peppers) have enough foliage to prevent direct contact.

If you have pruned the plant and left fruit newly exposed to direct sun, expect sun scald. If the green tomato has begun to color, go ahead and pick it and bring it inside to ripen slowly.

Grow your own sun protection

Home grown organic tomatoes have more nutrients and UV preventing lycopenes.
Home grown organic tomatoes have more nutrients and UV preventing lycopenes. | Source

Tomatoes save your skin

Can tomatoes protect you from sun damage?

  • According to a recent study published in the Journal of British Dermatology, 20 healthy women, ages 21 to 47, who ate a quarter cup (or four tablespoons) of tomato paste in olive oil every day for three months were more protected against sunburn than those who consumed olive oil alone. Women's Health
  • German research also finds that lycopene(the antioxidant in tomatoes) reduces sensitivity to sunburn. Drinking tomato juice or taking 10mg lycopene daily for three months cut signs of sunburn from a UV lamp 25% to 48%. Processed tomato products are rich in lycopene. Spavelous Weekly Spa Magazine


Submit a Comment

  • Patsybell profile imageAUTHOR

    Patsy Bell Hobson 

    5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    We can do everything right and still have a low harvest year. I appreciate your comment. Thank you.

  • Patsybell profile imageAUTHOR

    Patsy Bell Hobson 

    5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    It's pretty much out of our control until we get a break in the heat. Appreciate your comments.

  • BrightMeadow profile image


    5 years ago from a room of one's own

    Thanks for the info. I was wondering what was going on with my tomatoes.

  • Patsybell profile imageAUTHOR

    Patsy Bell Hobson 

    5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    Thank you. I appreciate your vote. Tabbouleh and Gazpacho are two of my favorite tomato dishes. What are yours?

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Great information. Voted up, useful and interesting.

  • Radcliff profile image

    Liz Davis 

    5 years ago from Hudson, FL

    This explains a lot for those of us who try to grow tomatoes in Florida! I have terrible luck with them down here. Thanks for the info.

  • Patsybell profile imageAUTHOR

    Patsy Bell Hobson 

    5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    Thank you. I appreciate your comments and support. Those squirrels are thirsty and starving for water. That's why they are after your tomatoes. Have a heart traps or scare crow has helped me. I'll write about that so I can include details. I think Pin it is a big help too.

  • Farmer Rachel profile image

    Rachel Koski 

    5 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

    Thanks for the useful info, Patsbell. My tomatoes are still green yet, but I got the plants in a little later this year than usual. Maybe I can expect better fruit, in that case, since the weather might be a little cooler in a few weeks!

  • The Dirt Farmer profile image

    Jill Spencer 

    5 years ago from United States

    Good info, Patsbell. Only got about 2 dozen tomatoes off our plants before the heat really kicked in here in MD (upper 90s everyday and up to 107 some days for over 3 weeks) and the toms stopped turning. Unfortunately, in the last few days we have been raided by squirrels, who've just about stripped the tomatoes in one bed. If only the heat slowed those little **@$* down! Voted up & useful.

  • Patsybell profile imageAUTHOR

    Patsy Bell Hobson 

    5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    Thank you. When we get a break in the heat, we will see blooms set. There is still enough time to produce more tomatoes.

  • sgbrown profile image

    Sheila Brown 

    5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

    Hello Patsybell! Great information here. I have been wondering why my tomatoes had all the yellow spots and not turning bright red. Now I have my answer. Our temperatures have been in the high 90 to 100 for some time now. I finally gave up on my tomatoes, they weren't producing much and my tomatoes were spotted. Great information, voted up and more!

  • Patsybell profile imageAUTHOR

    Patsy Bell Hobson 

    5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

    Thanks for your kind words. Please ask if you have other tomato or herb garden questions.

  • clairewait profile image


    5 years ago from North Carolina

    This explains so much about my tomatoes, even why they lasted so late into the season last year, and are dying early this year. Thanks.

  • Act 3 profile image

    chet thomas 

    5 years ago from Athens, GA

    Good hub! I sort of knew that, but not all the details. We've got lots of tomatoes starting to ripen but no new ones coming along due to the continued heat.


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