Heat and Tomatoes

Smithers, Canada

Help. I live in the Pacific Northwest (Northern area) have 7 beautiful tomato plants growing in my sq.ft. garden. Now suddenly it is extremely hot ( high 90's) totally uncommon for our climate area. Should I cover my tomatoes with the garden fabric I have in place to protect my garden? Will this heat and the direct sunshine hurt my green tomatoes as they hang on the vine? I will be so disappointed if I lose them.

I religiously water my tomatoes every evening, at the bottoms of their tomato halo containers.

Please let me know what I can do to help them make it through this heat spell. Thanks for your anticipated help.


SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Tomatoes are HEAT and SUNSHINE lovers!

As long as you keep them evenly hydrated, they should be fine.

Be aware, however, that when temps rise above 82+, the tomato plants usually stop setting fruits. Here, the high humidity causes the pollen to get sticky and clump.

Any fruit already set will continue to ripen. If your sun is extremely intense, you might protect them against sun-scald with some 70% shade cloth.

You might try shaking your plants vigorously every now and again to make the pollen fly, if your air is dryer than ours. Or, you might Google how to hand pollinate with a Q-Tip swab or small artist brush.

Let us know how you make out!


Smithers, Canada

Thanks so much for your reply Linda. Glad to hear that they are heat and sun lovers. I do hydrate my tomatoes every evening. Today it was well over 82, so I did cover my tomatoes in my garden box half way. The garden cloth did keep the scalding sun off of them, and they appear to be doing well now. It is currently 4:18 pm pacific standard time.

I believe that I will take a walk around my garden box and give my tomato plants a good shake! I was told by the garden center owner that all the tomatoes I had chosen were shrub types and I did not need to worry about pruning them etc.

I did however prune my tomatoes as they were so full of foliage leaves they would never have set fruit. Now however, they are all loaded with healthy green baby tomatoes. Can't wait to pick my first ripe tomato though, and I will take it down to him at his nursery, and show him that "you can definitely grow tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest of British Columbia Canada WITHOUT a Greenhouse!"

He claimed when I bought my young plants from him, that I would never, never be able to grow tomatoes up here, without a greenhouse so it was probably just a waste of time to try. Said they needed a minimum of 6 to 7 hours of sunlight per day. I explained that where my property is situate at the alpine base of Hudson Bay Mountain, I got sunlight between 4:00 am to 7:30 pm each day during June, July and August. The way that I learned to count that adds up to 15 hours! Right? Oh well-it is still a great joy to watch them grow and ripen and know that even as a newbie gardener, I was able to prove his theory wrong! Yes!!

Thanks again for your help.


Young America, MN

A shade cloth isn't terrible, but decent hydration is ideal in my experience. I live in zone 9a. It's arid and reaches temps up to 119F for the worst days. My fruit still set in the high 90s here, and just a few varieties have set fruit above 100. All of my plants are in 15-30 gallon smart pots(fabric). I water each with 2 gallons of water in the morning and if it's been hot that day (110+) I'll give a gallon or two in the evening. No shade cloth for me.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Not completely sure, but our humidity is sooo high down here, we actually end up wearing it! Which is why our pollen gets gloppy and sticky and doesn't fly easily.

I believe our next option here is to hand pollinate with a Q-tip swab. . . .. . Fascinating to hear your plants set fruits above 85.

My personal remedy for getting fruit set before our blazing heat began last season when I set my tomato seedlings out in mid-February. Temps were still dropping to the mid-40s at night, and everyone said I was too early, but, I protected them well, and was rewarded with my best long-season crop, ever!

I just perused my 2014 Tomato Plan, and looks like I'll be starting my long season seeds December 21st for plant out on February 15th.

I'll plant some short to medium season seeds January 4th for plant out March 1st.


High Point, NC

I saw a video awhile back that recommended "thumping" the plant just above the blossoms to release pollen. I've done it and it appears to work, though your finger will smell like a tomato plant. I do recommend you do this covertly, otherwise your neighbors will think you're nuts!

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