Garden Word of the Day
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Fruit Set Failure
Why do healthy plants fail to set fruit?
Your plants look lush and healthy. There are plenty of leaves and blossoms. You’ve been watering, feeding, mulching, and still no fruit. Why not?
Assuming that your plants are otherwise healthy, not diseased or water-stressed, there are several reasons behind fruit set failure. The most common causes are a lack of pollinators, too much heat, inadequate sunlight, and the wrong fertilizer.
Lack of pollinators
While many crops, such as tomatoes, are self-fertile, the lack of bees, flies, butterflies and moths, and even wind can reduce the number of fertilized flowers. Unfertilized flowers cannot produce fruit. You can attract more pollinators into your garden and landscape with colorful flowers in diverse shapes and sizes. Install flowers in clusters, rather than singly, for the best results. You can shake plants very gently to increase pollination rates.
Too hot to fruit
One of the most common reasons why blossoms do not transform into fruit is heat. As temperatures rise, plant life processes slow down. Most spring temperatures are pretty mild, but a few scorching hot days can ruin everything, at least temporarily. pollen loses its viability between 85 and 90ºF. So it won’t matter how many bees stop by for a visit or how healthy your plants are. It simply can’t happen. Luckily, most plants continue to produce flowers beyond the brief heat wave, and the pollen in those flowers can produce fruit. Hybrid plants tend to be more sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
Most fruiting plants need at least six to eight hours of sunlight to produce. If growth is leggy and erratic, it may be that they are not getting enough light. Chlorosis is also common when plants are not getting enough sunlight.
Fertilizer, a balancing act
All plants need good nutrition to produce fruit. Unhealthy plants do not have the nutrients and other resources they need to yield a decent crop. At the same time, too much nitrogen can lead to excessive vegetative and flower growth and still no fruit. Phosphorus deficiencies can also cause reduced flowering and fruiting. Before adding nutrients, send a soil sample in for testing. Soil tests are inexpensive and invaluable. Too many nutrients in the soil can cause just as many problems as not enough, or more.
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