The Q&A Archives: Tomato Plants Dying

Question: Why have my tomato plant leaves died before the fruit was ripe?

Answer: Tomato plants grow best in warm weather. Once the nighttime temperatures begin to drop, the plants stop growing and the leaves yellow and die back. If the fruit on your plants have reached a certain stage of maturity, they will continue to change from green to red if you harvest them and store them indoors. Look for fruits with darker green shoulders (sometimes called a dark-green star), that radiates from the stem and falls down to color about one-third of the fruit. These fruit have the best potential for ripening off the vine. If you have lots of them, carefully wrap each in newspaper and store them in a cool, dark location. Unwrap and take them indoors to finish ripening, whenever you want fresh tomatoes. If you have just a few fruit, harvest from the plants and allow them to ripen on the kitchen counter. Next year choose tomatoes that will ripen in a shorter season, or get your plants started a little sooner in the springtime.

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