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Heirloom Tomato Plant Does Not Flower

Hi, I have two tomato plants growing side by side in the exact same conditions. One is a grape tomato, the other an heirloom variety. Both are large and leafy and healthy, but only the grape tomato plant produces flowers and fruit. The other produces no flowers at all and it's been a good few months. Everything else in the garden seems to be doing well with no problems. Do some breeds only produce fruit late in the season or not at all the first year? I can't think what could be causing the problem.

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Posts: 30226
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

Yep. There is a wide range in how long it takes for a variety of tomato to begin blooming and setting fruits.

I have a variety called 42 Days, and it is one of the earliest. Cherry and grape tomatoes tend to be earlier but not necessarily the earliest. 42 Days produced pointy/heart-shaped golfball sized fruits. Some of the big beefsteak type heirloom varieties take so long that even when started a week or two earlier than the main group, I haven't been able to get them to fruit -- I would venture guess at 85 to 90 days or longer. But there are large fruited varieties that are considerably earlier as well.

Days to Maturity/DTM is typically counted from when the little plant is planted in the ground or permanent home in a container, and it varies according to growing conditions, so listed number can only be a guideline (but good for approximate relative growth rates between varieties)

Posts: 13636
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: Hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Please update your profile with your location and zone.

If the temperature is above 90 degrees and you do not have a heat resistant tomato it won't produce many flowers in the heat and if it does, the flowers are likely to drop off without setting. As long as the tomatoes are healthy they will start producing again when the temperatures are milder.

There are some varieties of tomatoes that will set fruit in the heat. Most are Florida cultivars like sunmaster, solar fire, and heatmaster. Some of these varieties will continue to set if they get enough water well into the 90's.

Heatwave II, Creole, Sioux, Phoenix, Super Sioux, Summer Set, and Kewalo are others. Pink Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, and Pruden's Purple are Heirlooms with good heat tolerance but don't expect them to produce near the century mark, but they will produce longer than most.

Cherry tomatoes have better heat tolerance than beefsteaks and most will perform fairly well. Husky, sungold, sunsugar, sweet 100, black cherry (not very productive, but it is tasty), red currants do much better in the heat.

Other than that there are early, mid and late season varieties. Most gardeners with short seasons can only plant early varieties (55 days) . Those of us who live near the equator usually grow mid and late season varieties that take 80 days or more to mature. Where I am I can grow both, but early usually means cold tolerant. Cold tolerant means no tomatoes in summer and often it cannot take the heat. The tradeoff is that I can grow tomatoes nearly year round as long as I grow heat and disease tolerant ones.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 901
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 5:34 pm
Location: Brownville, Ne

Right now in my garden, Sweetie, a cherry is beginning to ripen. There are thirty other heirloom/OP varieties that may not ripen until mid to late August. So it depends on the variety, when they were planted in the soil, the weather, and several other variables as to flowering and fruit development.

What varieties are they? That will will be the major difference.

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