The Q&A Archives: Greenhouse Tomato Problems

Question: In my small backyard greenhouse (temps. 60-85 degrees) the tomato plants did really well until they started blooming and getting tomatoes. Then they started wilting. They are in containers and fertilized every 4 weeks. I tried more water, less water. Nothing has worked. They have stopped growing, but are still alive. The fruit falls off at the slightest touch.

Answer: Tomato plants are really fussy about light and temperature. Be sure you provide the most light you can, to simulate summer brightness. Your temperature range seems sufficient. Tomato blossoms won't set fruit if the nighttime temperature falls below 55 degrees. You may be overwatering - be sure to allow the soil to dry a bit between waterings. Just stick your finger down into the top two inches of soil, and water only if the soil is dry. Wilting can be a sign of not enough water, or of root damage caused by too much water or disease.<br><br>Plants in containers are generally watered more often than plants in the ground and as a result, fertilizer is usually washed out rather quickly. You're probably not overfertilizing, but it is something to consider. Finally, blossoms will set fruit only if they're pollinated. In the greenhouse you should be able to shake the plant gently to transfer pollen from one flower to another. If you prefer, you can use an artist's small paintbrush to transfer pollen. Don't give up - your plants may still pull through!

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