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4 Reasons Your Tomatoes Aren’t Ripening and How to Fix Them

Here are some tips to help your tomatoes ripen on the plant or after harvesting.

Are your tomatoes not ripening? This can be frustrating, especially if you’ve managed to control diseases like blight and blossom-end rot and keep up with watering and fertilizing.

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So, what should you do if your tomatoes stay green and refuse to turn red? Here’s what might be causing the delay and how to help your tomatoes ripen.

Why Tomatoes Aren’t Ripening

Common reasons for tomatoes not ripening include high temperatures, too much nitrogen in the soil, too many fruits on one plant, and the type of tomato you’re growing.

Here’s how to figure out which issue is the problem and what you can do about it.

1. Temperature

The weather is usually the main reason tomatoes don’t ripen on the plant. The ideal temperature range for ripening tomatoes is between 68 and 77°F.

Tomatoes can ripen outside this range, but it will take longer. When temperatures go over 85°F, the plants stop producing lycopene and carotene, the pigments that make tomatoes red.

If your area stays hot for a long time, the ripening process might stop, resulting in yellowish-green or orange tomatoes.

There’s not much you can do about high temperatures except wait for cooler weather, at which point the ripening process will continue.

2. Too Much Nitrogen

Sometimes, gardeners overfertilize their tomatoes, which can prevent ripening. Using a fertilizer high in nitrogen can cause the plant to produce more leaves instead of ripening fruit.

Once your plants start producing fruit, reduce the amount of fertilizer used. Typically, you only need to fertilize tomato plants two or three times during the season.

3. Too Many Fruits

If the temperature is fine and your plants aren’t overfertilized, but the tomatoes still aren’t ripening, the plant might have too many fruits.

Removing about a fourth of the fruits may be hard, but this will help the plant focus its energy on ripening the remaining fruits.

4. Type of Tomato

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Sometimes, a tomato variety just takes longer to ripen. Cherry tomatoes usually ripen faster than large heirloom varieties. Patience might be all you need.

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes After Harvesting

When fall arrives and temperatures below 50°F, tomatoes won’t ripen on the vine anymore. If the green tomatoes have started to show a bit of color and are slightly soft, they might ripen indoors.

Place your harvested tomatoes in a spot that’s 60 to 65°F, like a pantry or basement. Tomatoes don’t need sunlight to ripen, so you can place them in a paper bag with an apple or a banana. These fruits release ethylene gas, which speeds up ripening.

Another method is to uproot the whole plant and hang it upside down indoors. The tomatoes might ripen on the vine as the plant dies.

Make sure to shake off as much soil from the roots as possible before bringing the plant inside. If you’re growing tomatoes in containers, you can bring the whole plant indoors and place it in a sunny spot until the last fruits ripen.