Why do the flowers keep falling off your tomato, squash, melon, and bean plants, and citrus trees?
This condition is called blossom drop. Blossom drop can be caused by several factors, most of which are perfectly normal. Others, not so much. Generally speaking, unfertilized flowers are kicked to the curb. Here are some species-specific causes of blossom drop.
Citrus June drop
Most citrus trees will produce far more flowers than they could possibly bring to maturity. When the tree decides it has enough fertilized flowers, usually around June, the rest are discarded. It’s nothing to worry about.
Cucurbit blossom drop
The first flowers on your melons, winter or summer squash, and cucumber are generally male. These drop naturally after a brief appearance. If female blossoms start falling off, it is usually because of thrip damage, poor soil fertility, environmental factors, or inadequate pollination. You can attract more bees and other pollinators to your garden by adding yarrow and bee balm. You can also allow onions, carrots, and fennel to go to seed. These plants will all provide pollen and nectar to beneficial insects that should increase pollination rates. If that doesn’t work, you can always try hand-pollinating.
Bean blossom drop
Temperatures over 90°F will cause bean flowers to abort. This can also occur with insufficient irrigation and poor air quality due to smog or fires. If you know your summer temperatures are likely to go over that threshold, try planting beans earlier or later in the season.
Tomato and pepper blossom drop
Tomatoes and peppers often drop their blossoms when environmental conditions are unfavorable. This might mean any of the following:
How to reduce blossom drop
Use these handy tips to reduce blossom drop in your garden:
The good news about blossom drop
Luckily, when environmental conditions cause blossom drop, most plants will simply try again, producing a second crop of blossoms.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!