Gorgeous Red Tomatoes Won’t Ripen

July 16, 2008 | By | Comments (4)

Q: I am container growing beautiful & plentiful ‘Better Bush’ hybrid tomatoes. These tomatoes are gorgeous, bug free thus far, ripening to a beautiful red approx. 2″ to 3″ tomato that will NOT ripen on the inside. Slicing this luscious looking tomato reveals a green unripe not tasty interior. I live in eastern North Carolina and given our hot water these plants are being watered daily & the pots sit in shallow dishes to reserve the over-flow water to feed the roots from the bottom. Help? Thanks so much! Kay

A: My guess is the problem has to do with the hot weather and all the watering you are forced to do. The tomato fruits absorb this constant moisture like sponges. You get big fruits with a watery taste. So cut down on the water a little bit, giving the plants just enough moisture to keep them from wilting. You might also try picking the tomatoes just as they begin to turn color and ripening them indoors. Place them inside a brown paper bag. The ethylene gas given off by ripening fruit will be trapped in the bag, turning the tomatoes red. Since they won’t be getting any more water at this point, the flavor should improve. Grumpy


  1. LaVern

    Had the same problem. Turned out to be white flys.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm
  2. Grumpy Gardener

    Here’s the first question that comes to the Grump’s mind — exactly how does one overwater a hydroponic tomato? Isn’t that like drowning a flounder?
    I don’t have too much experience growing tomatoes hydroponically. Actually, that’s not quite true. I have none. Nevertheless, I would surmise that it’s a nutritional issue. Anybody out there in Grumpiana care to hazard a guess as to what’s wrong with Denny’s tomatoes? C’mon — help him out.

    January 21, 2009 at 7:57 pm
  3. Denny Graham

    I’ve experienced the same problem with tomatoes that appear to be ripe, but that are light pink on the inside, relatively hard to touch, and low on flavor. Attempting to ripen them in a bag with bananas doesn’t work. These are greenhouse/hydroponically grown tomatoes–four varieties (TOV, Match, Blitz and Cheresita); all exhibiting the same symptoms. I think I have overwatered and undernourished (EC = 2.4) them. This is my first experience growing tomatoes hydroponically, so I know close to nothing. Suggestions? Thanks, Denny

    January 21, 2009 at 1:52 am
  4. Danny Staple

    Have you tried using bananas?
    It is a well known thing that having bananas with other fruit will over ripen them. However, if the fruit is not yet ripe, putting a banana or its skin with the tomatoes should help.
    Bananas, as I understand, give of a lot of that Ethylene gas.

    January 6, 2009 at 5:14 pm

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