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Early tomato blossoms seem to die?? Why

Posted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:11 am
by hardland
Hi, I've got three tomato plants on the go. From seed, in early Jan. Potted in large containers begining of March. I'm watering daily about 1/2 gallon each plant and feeding with high pottasium fertilizer, tomato tone, every 10 days. I've noticed a few small blossoms, but they seem to die off. I have squash and cucumber on the go as well, they produce lovely yellow blossoms in the morning, but die 36 hrs later. I assume no blossoms, no fruit. My plants look OK, e few leaf miners, etc. I have started to spray with a neem oil fungicide.. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks in advance

Posted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:32 am
by TZ -OH6
My first though is way too much fertilizer

Posted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:56 am
by rainbowgardener
The squash and cucumber produce separate male and female flowers. You can tell which is which because the female one has a tiny fruit behind the flower. They both have to be present at the same time and there have to be bees or something to move the pollen from male to female. Frequently early in the season the plant produces just male flowers first. The male flowers open for awhile and then die. The female flower does the same thing if not pollenated.

Blossom drop in tomatoes is a sign of stress in the plant. Plant goes into survival mode, drops the blossoms to concentrate on growing the plant instead of growing fruit. It can be any of a variety of kinds of stress:

temperatures too low or too high, humidity too low or too high, too much or too little nitrogen, lack of water or over watering. Early in the season blossom drop often relates to night time temps going below 55. It may be caused by the use of excess nitrogen fertilizers or dry windy conditions, but the most common cause is temperature extremes. If night time temps are above 75 or if the day temps are above 90, the pollen becomes tacky and non-viable. Pollination cannot occur. If the bloom isn't pollinated, the bloom dies and falls off.

So you have to figure out what is stressing your plants. If your high potassium fertilizer also has nitrogen with it, I would tend to agree with TZ that every 10 days is too often, especially if you are using it full strength.

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:09 am
by hardland
I'm in Sth Florida, Ft Lauderdale. It is 80 in shade here already, so prob 90 in the sun. Iv'e read that tomatoes need 5+ hrs a day of full sun, maybe that is too much heat + humidity is getting up there. My fertlizer is Tomatoe tone, i think it's 3 nitro, 6 potass and 6 phosphur. ??

Posted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:23 pm
by rainbowgardener
For us northern gardeners tomatoes need at least 6 hrs a day of sun. Where you are, in heat like that, probably not so much.

You could try putting up some shade cloth (look for it in nurseries). Then in the heat of the day you could mist the tomatoes and the shade cloth, create some evaporative cooling.

In future years, think about growing some more heat resistant varieties. They have names like Sunmaster. Any local nursery should carry them, since everyone in your area is in the same boat.

For growing ordinary tomatoes, think about starting them earlier in the year. You could probably get away with planting tomatoes out in Feb. Then you can just give up on them in the hottest part of the year and plant more in Sept. You aren't in the same climate as the rest of us, so you can't be on the same schedule.

Posted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 10:29 am
by hardland
Thanks for the input.
I neglected to mention that I am growing my tomatoes, cucumber and squash in round plastic containers. I did this so I would be able to move them into some shade on very hot days and under some shelter on very rainy Florida afternoons. Any pro's or cons on containers ?? I believe someone mentioned that containers need extra water, and therfor a little extra fertilizer. Today I gave each about a gallon of water and moved them so they get shade at 3:30 on, after good sun from 9:00 to 3:00. Containers are 20'' round about 20" deep, approx 10 gallon volume.