Gardening > Tomato Growing Pains

Tomato Growing Pains


Tomato plants are relatively easy to raise from seed. They germinate within a fortnight, the seedlings are sturdy and easy to pot-on and although they can be subject to damping-off, pests like slugs or snails do not bother them over-much.

Obviously the reason for growing tomatoes is to get a bumper crop of sweet-tasting fruit so it is worth being aware of what can go wrong with the development of the tomatoes and how to prevent or remedy the problems.

Blossom End Rot

A tough, brown patch appears at the base of the tomato.

To prevent this from happening, do not allow the soil/compost to dry out, especially when the fruit are developing.

Blossom Drop

The most annoying problem. The flowers die, break off and fall. It is caused by dry soil at the roots and lack of moisture in the atmosphere. Over-shallow containers can also cause this as can poor quality compost (because it does not retain moisture).

To prevent this from happening, water regularly making sure the compost/soil actually gets damp. Mist the flowers in the morning.


Just below the stalk the fruit is hard and green. This indicates a shortage of potash or an excess of sunlight (in a greenhouse).

To prevent this from happening, feed with a commercial tomato food – these are rich in potassium and do not allow the greenhouse to get too hot.

Split Fruit

The skin of the tomato becomes split. This can happen in the greenhouse and outside. It is caused by sudden drenching by watering or rain after the soil at the roots has become very dry. The tomatoes grow too quickly and the skins split.

To prevent this from happening water evenly and never let the roots dry out.

Dry Set

A tiny tomato appears and then stops growing. This is caused by the air being too hot and dry at pollination.

To prevent this from happening mist the tomatoes with water every evening or morning.

These are just a few of the problems that can spoil a tomato crop. They are all easily preventable with a bit of attention to watering and feeding.