Garden Q&a: Lush Plant Produces No Tomatoes

Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

Garden Q&a: Lush Plant Produces No Tomatoes


Q: My tomato plants last year were big and beautiful but did not bloom or put out fruit. Why? They looked so good.

A: Nearly every time I hear about a plant with a whole lot of green and very little fruit, I blame it on the soil (and then on the gardener -- sorry!). This type of excessive plant growth, coupled with limited flower and fruit production, is a sure sign of a nutritional issue.

There are three primary macronutrients a plant uses to grow: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (known as N-P-K). These are called macronutrients because they are needed in the greatest amount to support plant growth. They are no less important to growth than, say, boron or magnesium; they are just the ones that we need to pay more attention to as they are needed in more substantial quantities.

Each of these nutrients performs different functions within a plant (you'll see where I'm going with this in a second, I promise!). In a nutshell, the nitrogen is responsible for making new, green growth; the phosphorus supports a good root system and helps develop fruits and flowers, and potassium raises plant vigor and helps make them tough and hardy.

When a plant, such as your tomato, makes a lot of green and no fruits or flowers, it usually means there is too much nitrogen in the soil and, perhaps, not enough phosphorus. …

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