Hydroponic tomatoes not ripening are common with DIY enthusiasts and beginners. Luckily, if your tomatoes are not ripening, there are several things you can do to fix this.
First, you will need to know the reasons why they are not ripening before applying any fix. In this article, we have explored the most common reasons why hydroponic tomatoes are not ripening and what you can do to get them to ripen quickly.
Hydroponic Tomatoes Not Ripening: 5 Likely Causes
1. Longer Maturity Time
Each seed packet of tomatoes or just about any vegetable comes with an average time for maturity. It is important you take note of this date as certain varieties take less time to mature while others would take a while.
In general, most tomato varieties would take between 90-110 days to mature.
Depending on your growing season, you would want to select varieties with a matching maturity team. Shorter growing season work best for varieties with shorter maturity times.
2. Cold Temperatures
Tomatoes work best in warm temperatures. With cold water, the ripening process can be stalled. A drop in temperature indicates that the growing season for tomato plants is at an end. However, if you’re still in the middle of the season, you won’t have a way of convincing the tomatoes to keep growing.
Prolonged cold temperatures that remain under 60F will stall the fruits from ripening, and stop the plant from growing.
The only thing to do is to wait till the cold weather passes. If the temperature doesn’t change in two weeks, you might want to consider taking your hydroponic tomatoes indoors.
3. Hot Temperature
While tomatoes love warm weather, hot summer temperatures are no better for producing fruits. Too much heat can cause the tomato plant to move into survival mode and it will plant stop producing lycopene.
This chemical is responsible for turning the fruits red. At high temperatures of 80s or 90s, the ripening process will either slow down or stop completely.
You can either wait till the heat subsides or put measures in place to protect your tomatoes from intense heat.
4. Not Enough Sunlight
As said earlier, tomatoes need heat to ripen, and the same goes for sunlight. One possibility as to why your tomatoes are not turning red is that you selected a bad location for your tomato plants.
If you checked and it seems they’re getting the right amount of sunlight, chances would be that you planted them too close together. Depending on the variety, tomato plants should be placed at least 18 inches to two feet apart. If you planted large variety plants, like the Brandywine, you need to place them two feet apart to receive adequate sunlight.
5. Overgrown Vines
Overgrown vines are never a good sign with tomato plants. With overgrown vines, it indicates that your plant only has enough energy for growing new leaves and flowers, but no energy for ripening your tomatoes.
Timely pruning is required to ensure that the flowers are not overgrown. Tomato plants require pruning throughout the growing season. The function of pruning is to stop the plant from blossoming further too late in the growing season as well as ensure that the tomato sends energy elsewhere, which should be to ripening fruits.
How To Get Hydroponic Tomatoes To Ripen Faster
Using any of the tricks below, you can speed up the ripening time of your tomatoes.
1. Trim New Growth
To get your tomatoes ripe quickly, you need to start trimming new growth. Trimming the leaves could help speed up the ripening process.
This ensures that the tomato plant makes good use of the energy it has. With new branches or early fruits, the plant will direct its energy to those areas rather than ripen fruits.
When you start trimming any new stems or leaves, it will make the plant direct that energy toward the fruit ripening process. This trick only works when done towards the end of the season when no new growth is required.
2. Protect the Plant from Heat or Cold
Extreme heat or cold is never great for tomato ripening. To get the tomatoes to ripen you will need to ensure that your plants get optimal temperature. This should be between 65F and 75F.
If the temperatures go above the ideal range for ripening, you can take steps to prevent damage to the plant. With hot temperatures, protect the plants with a shade cloth, and regular watering. With low temperatures, cover the plants with protective fabric. Taking them inside would also work.
In some cases, these measures may not resolve your problem and your tomatoes won’t still ripen, however, there won’t be any damage and the overall health of the plant will be protected.
3. Take off the suckers
This is the same as trimming the leaves of the tomato plant, but a bit more effective. Tomato suckers are small shoots you can find on the intersection of the stem and branch of a tomato plant. These suckers don’t do much for the plant rather than making it larger.
Pinching out tomato suckers is necessary and should be a part of your regular tomato pruning tasks. This should be done all season long. If left unchecked, these suckers could suck energy from the plant which it could need to ripen fruits. This should be done all season long to ensure your tomatoes ripen faster.
To trim the suckers, you could use your fingertips to get rid of young or small suckers. If the suckers are big, you will need to use shears. Ensure you get rid of them at the base of the shoot.
4. Cut off any diseased leaves
If there are any yellow leaves on the plant getting rid of them will help the plant send its energy to the healthy leaves. You should always check the plant regularly to see if there are any diseased leaves. Also, look out for leaves with mold or spots on them. If you find any, remove them immediately.