tomato seedlings: pinch off flowers?


Joined
Apr 14, 2016
Messages
23
Reaction score
5
Location
Long Island, NY
Hardiness Zone
7b
Country
United States
I have a ton of very successful tomato plants I started from seed. They're in pots now of various sizes--whateverI had around--though generally in the 8 inch range. All those I'm going to keep are going into the ground, and I'll be giving away the rest.

They started out in a basement under grow lights, and are now in a sun room (though the sun's too high in the sky to give direct sun). I've started to put them outside on warmer days, to acclimate.

A large percentage of them have already started to flower over the past week. Should I pinch those flowers off to encourage growth?
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
9,249
Reaction score
4,293
Location
Tarpley Tx
Hardiness Zone
8b
Country
United States
Flowers make tomatoes. If you want foliage and not fruit pinch them off. Don't be surprised if the flowers self abort anyway. Fruit set depends on temperatures and pretty soon it will be too hot for fruit set on large variety tomatoes. Gardeners in the northern states sometimes prune their tomatoes but in zone 7 it isn't needed.
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2016
Messages
23
Reaction score
5
Location
Long Island, NY
Hardiness Zone
7b
Country
United States
I want fruit, at least eventually, but I want healthy tomato plants that'll eventually produce a lot of fruit. Since they're just sitting in pots in plastic bins right now and are no more than a foot high I thought they might be wasting energy (trying) to produce fruit at this point.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
9,249
Reaction score
4,293
Location
Tarpley Tx
Hardiness Zone
8b
Country
United States
I want fruit, at least eventually, but I want healthy tomato plants that'll eventually produce a lot of fruit. Since they're just sitting in pots in plastic bins right now and are no more than a foot high I thought they might be wasting energy (trying) to produce fruit at this point.
Just pinching off the flowers won't do much as far as promoting growth. In reality it is doubtful that the flowers will set fruit being indoors at night anyway, but it won't harm your plants to pinch off the flowers. What is important for continuous rapid growth is to have your outdoor soil extremely fertile and now is the time to work on that.
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2016
Messages
23
Reaction score
5
Location
Long Island, NY
Hardiness Zone
7b
Country
United States
I've been working the soil over the past week. But I have a LOT of tomato plants and I'll be giving probably two-thirds of them away. I can't control what the other people do--pot or plant, I suspect mainly the former--so I wanted the plants to be healthy.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
9,249
Reaction score
4,293
Location
Tarpley Tx
Hardiness Zone
8b
Country
United States
Remember that tomatoes are very sensitive about temperatures. Tomatoes actually set fruit at night and the optimum low night time temperature is 67F. They will set fruit a few degrees lower and higher but it is not absolute.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Jan 30, 2018
Messages
282
Reaction score
384
Location
Oregon
Hardiness Zone
8
Country
United States
I pinch the flowers off. If you let the plant set fruit before or during transplant you’re rolling the dice since the plant could switch off veg and go bloom. I’ve had tomatoes do this before and they would grow stumpy and only put off a few fruits then quit. Now I don’t let them bloom until they’re in the ground and have at least 2-3’ height.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
9,249
Reaction score
4,293
Location
Tarpley Tx
Hardiness Zone
8b
Country
United States
I pinch the flowers off. If you let the plant set fruit before or during transplant you’re rolling the dice since the plant could switch off veg and go bloom. I’ve had tomatoes do this before and they would grow stumpy and only put off a few fruits then quit. Now I don’t let them bloom until they’re in the ground and have at least 2-3’ height.
I must disagree. Maybe it is the different climate but not letting them bloom until 2 ft high? Here that would be insane. Tomatoes, except cherrys, will stop setting fruit about mid June as the nighttime low temps are too high. Here we worry about bloom drop no matter the size of the plant. I planted my tomatoes March 20-24. The seedlings were about a foot tall and had buds showing plus a bloom here and there. I planted 70 tomatoes. My tomatoes now are about 2 ft high and have many blooms and a LOT of fruit has set. We don't know where the OP is located and a zone doesn't tell us anything except average first frost IMO having blooms before setting out is a good thing. I have never in 60 years of vegetable gardening ever had a healthy tomato plant stop blooming, no matter if it had blooms or fruit when set out. But, maybe that is just here.
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2016
Messages
23
Reaction score
5
Location
Long Island, NY
Hardiness Zone
7b
Country
United States
Fixed my profile (Long Island, NY--the info was in the wrong field). I generally have production most of the summer.
 
Joined
Jan 30, 2018
Messages
282
Reaction score
384
Location
Oregon
Hardiness Zone
8
Country
United States
I’ve grown tomatoes in 3 zones and had it happen several times. Hybrids and heirlooms. It is possible other factors came into play.

I also don’t let tomatoes at the bottom couple branches set any fruit at all or they often run into the dirt and can even pull the plant down from supports. I’ve heard from many, many gardeners over the years to pinch all blossoms until transplanting, this isn’t some new or crazy idea. Also @Chuck most of my tomatoes starts go outside at 2’ tall.
 
Last edited:
Ad

Advertisements

Gardening Girl

This is my garden several years back.
Joined
Apr 10, 2018
Messages
73
Reaction score
44
Location
Zone 8b
Hardiness Zone
8b
Country
United States
Remember that tomatoes are very sensitive about temperatures. Tomatoes actually set fruit at night and the optimum low night time temperature is 67F. They will set fruit a few degrees lower and higher but it is not absolute.
I never knew that tomatoes set their fruit at night! Thanks for the info. I did know about the desired temps though. Tomatoes like it hot. Some of the hydroponic tomato growers in Louisiana will heat their water in their systems rather than heat their greenhouse. Seems to work well for them.
 
Ad

Advertisements


Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top