How To Cultivate Tomatoes That Ripen On The Vine?

Have you ever wondered how to get your tomatoes to ripen on the vine? We're here to help you out with that! Tomatoes are one of those summer pleasures that nobody can get enough of. However, they don't always get to mature fully and, as a result, don’t taste as great as they should.

So if you want a juicy tomato every time, follow these simple steps for getting them perfectly ripe on the vine before picking.

1. Plant Earlier

Let's start with the basics! Get the most out of your tomato plants by starting them inside 6 to 8 weeks before the final frost date. Before putting your seedlings in the ground, harden them off for a week. You can do this by leaving them outside in the shade for a few hours. Then, slowly increase the amount of time your seedlings spend outside each day and begin to incorporate some direct sunshine.


Customer images of their seedlings

2. Use Organic Fertilizer

    Tomatoes require an abundance of nutrients, including protein and micronutrients like calcium, that help with photosynthesis. In addition, organic fertilizers rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are recommended to ensure your tomato plants grow to be big and strong. The best part is that many different fertilizers can be made at home using things you already have, such as coffee grounds, grass clippings, Epsom salts, and more.

    3. Prune Your Plants

      Keeping your tomato vine trimmed and tidy is essential for healthy growth. Not only does pruning help your plant grow faster, but it also improves its resilience to infections and other health issues. For best pruning practices, make sure you’re doing the following on a regular basis:

      • Trim New Growth
        For healthy tomatoes and a higher yield, try to limit your vine to 3 stems that are as high off the ground as possible. This allows your plant to focus its energy on a specific area and helps limit the possibility of fungal diseases and infections from low-lying branches.

      • Pinch the Suckers
        Suckers are the tiny stems that develop between the branches and leaves of your plant. Unfortunately, these will suck the energy from your vine and slow down the growing process. As a way to combat this, you should regularly inspect your vine and pinch them off right away.

      • Remove Unhealthy Leaves and Branches
        Try to trim off any spotted or diseased leaves as soon as you see them on your vine. Your plant needs all the help it can get to fight off these illnesses, and regular removal of unhealthy-looking foliage will help protect your tomatoes and increase their resilience to fungus and bacteria.
      Customer images of greenhouse tomato plants

      4. Cap the Vine at the Top

        This is a fantastic trick for when the season is coming to a close, and you need your tomatoes to speed up the ripening process. Trim the very top of the vine to signal the plant to stop growing and focus all of its energy on completing the fruit-bearing phase.

        5. Provide Shelter From Sunlight

          Contrary to popular belief, direct sunlight isn’t really necessary for tomatoes to begin ripening on the vine. In fact, overexposure to sunlight can be incredibly damaging for these delicate fruits and cause them to sunscald and develop bruises. So as long as you have optimal temperatures for your tomatoes to thrive, it’s suggested that you give your plants a little shade during the sunniest hours of the day.

          6. Check Your Plants Frequently

            You may be surprised by how quickly a tomato vine can ripen after it has begun the process. It's important to monitor your plant and pick the fruit as soon as you see that they're ready. Not only does this ensure your tomatoes don’t fall off the vine and spoil, but it also allows your plant to concentrate on ripening the ones that are still green. 


            Customer images of thriving tomato plants

            7. Reduce Your Watering

              Sufficient hydration is crucial for your tomato plants to flourish. However, when it comes to the end of the summer season, you can decrease how much you’re watering your vine to help advance the ripening process. Water encourages the development of leaves, which the plant will devote its energy to. Instead, by preventing the growth of new branches, the vines may focus on ripening the fruits that are already there.

              8. Watch Out For Extreme Temperatures

                Both scalding heat and cold snaps can be damaging for your tomato plants. Extremes in temperature will delay or even stop fruit development and ripening. But don’t worry – there are a variety of methods and tools you can use to protect your plants from temperature fluctuations. We recommend using shade cloths and fans on sweltering summer days, frost blankets, and greenhouse heaters on chilly nights. 

                Customer image of their tomato plants being warmed by a greenhouse heater

                Why Grow Your Tomatoes in a Greenhouse?

                For tomato-lovers with short planting seasons or the desire for a second harvest – greenhouse growing is a wonderful method to extend your season. By having the ability to control the climate and keep the temperature warm, many gardeners can expect several more months of potential tomato-growing time. In addition, a DIY greenhouse kit protects your plants from the rain and wind, which can cause damage or promote fungal diseases and infections.

                To put it simply, using a greenhouse allows gardening hobbyists to concentrate on growing and caring for the fruit rather than having to worry about their plant making it to maturity. 

                Why Planta Greenhouses?

                Back to Learn

                Share Your Thoughts

                Ask thoughtful questions, share helpful tips, or offer words of encouragement for other greenhouse owners.