Tomatoes Not Turning Red? Proper Tips for you

BY Khushvinder Dagar
Last Update:

Tomatoes are one of the MOST PREVALENT garden vegetables. They are ONE of the most rewarding plants to grow in your garden.

But they are a LITTLE frustrating as sometimes tomatoes not turning red even after GOOD care. 

But why do they do so? This question PASSES through the mind of many tomato growers, LEAVING them worried.

But you don’t HAVE TO be afraid about anything because HERE WE ARE— the GARDENING experts.

Our years of GARDENING EXPERIENCE allow us to GUIDE you about your MISTAKES so you can avoid them.  

We ASSURE you that you will definitely turn your tomatoes red by following our simple guide.

Learn why aren’t your tomatoes turning red and what you need to do about it. 

Tomatoes Not Turning Red

How Long Does It Take for Tomatoes to Turn Red?

How Long Does It Take for Tomatoes to Turn Red

The time it takes for tomatoes to TURN red varies depending on various factors, including

  • Kind of tomatoes
  • Growing conditions
  • Temperature

Generally, it takes 60-90 days for the mature green stage after the plant SETS FRUIT. GET this?

But some varieties may TAKE a longer or shorter time to produce mature fruit. Like cherry tomatoes ripen faster than larger tomatoes. 

So, checking the duration MENTION on the seed packet is better.

Temperature and growing conditions also have an IMPACT on the maturity of tomatoes.

Tomato ripening REQUIRES hot temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. But make sure to prevent your plant from intense heat. 

Thus, tomatoes tend to grow slowly in cool weather and steadily in hot weather.  

What Makes Tomatoes Turn Red?

What Makes Tomatoes Turn Red

Scientifically, tomatoes turn red due to the pigments called Lycopene and carotene. HERE is how they work.

Lycopene and carotene are NATURALLY occurring pigments responsible for red color. It is present in MANY red fruits and veggies.

The INCREASE in the LEVEL of lycopene helps the fruit to achieve its mature green phase. 

The process of ripening tomatoes is also REGULATED by a hormone such as Ethylene.

Ethylene is a natural hormone that triggers the ripening process in many fruits and vegetables.

As the tomatoes mature, the LEVEL of ethylene increases. The increased ethylene causes lycopene levels to RISE—changing the tomato’s color.  

Reason Why Tomatoes Not Turning Red

Reason Why Tomatoes Not Turning Red

There are several REASONS why your tomatoes FAIL to ripen. Some of the most common are:

1. Temperature

The weather is the most SIGNIFICANT factor if your tomatoes aren’t ripening.

A tomato’s ideal ripening temperature is 60 to 80°F.

So, tomatoes are warm-weather crops that NEED a warm temperature to RIPEN properly.

If the temperature DECREASES, the ripening process slows significantly. It also stops altogether even if you have large tomatoes in your garden. 

Contrarily, TOO MUCH  heat does not ALLOW the plant to produce Lycopene. The loss of Lycopene inhibits fruit maturation.

But you don’t NEED to FEAR if your tomatoes are not ripening because of high or low temperatures.

Because whenever the temperature SETS BACK, your tomatoes will START ripening.

2. Overfeeding

Feeding your tomato plants on TIME and treating them like a BABY is essential.

But many gardeners PROVIDE a regular supply of fertilizer throughout the growing season.

LISTEN! I know fertilizer is a GOOD feeding for the plant, but excess of everything is TERRIBLE. TOO MUCH fertilizer hinders the fruit from ripening.

So, if you want to fertilize your tomatoes, do it once or twice throughout the season. 

3. Overwatering

Tomatoes are one of the THIRSTY plants, and you can overwater them easily. Still, overwatering is not SUITABLE for fruit maturation.

Overwatering LEAD the plant to:

  • Root damage AFFECTS the plant’s ability to TAKE UP nutrients from the soil.
  • REDUCE the plant’s ethylene production.
  • Waterlogging causes the plant to LOSE its ability to photosynthesize.   

4. Disease or Pests

Diseases and pests can CAUSE damage to the tomato plant. This damage can IMPACT the ripening process of fruit.

For example:

Tomato fruit worms can feed on the tomatoes, causing them to remain green or ripen unevenly. 

5. Lack of Ethylene

Ethylene is an important plant hormone that plays a CRUCIAL role in ripening.

So, if the fruits aren’t exposed to enough ethylene, they may not ripen properly.

  • It usually occurs when the tomatoes are stored in an airtight container.
  • Also, you won’t GET ripened tomatoes if the plant does not produce ethylene gas. 

6. They Aren’t Red Tomatoes

Apart from all these reasons, it is also POSSIBLE that the tomato you are growing in your garden isn’t red.

Got my point, don’t you?

Actually, there are wide varieties of tomatoes available that DON’T TURN red even when ripe. These varieties may ripen pink, orange, purple, and EVEN green such as 

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Roma tomatoes 

If you are trying a NEW SORT of tomato, first understand its ripening color and needs.

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes on Vines?

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes on Vines

DON’T lose hope if your tomatoes STAY green after good care. 

Although we can’t FORCE tomatoes to ripen on the vine, certain things help you mature green tomatoes.

These comprise the following:

Adequate Light

Tomatoes REQUIRE plenty of sunlight to grow and ripen FASTER. So make sure to provide your plant with sufficient sunlight.

If necessary, move your plant to a sunny place for direct sunlight. You can also provide your plant with artificial light.

When your plants grow, MAKE SURE to cover them with the shade cloth. It helps you to keep the plant in an upright form. Thus MAXIMIZING sun exposure.

You can also ADD mulch with plastic for this purpose.

Red plastic or even aluminum foil will reflect the light onto tomatoes. Thus using them also speeds up the maturing process.

Eliminate Suckers

Besides all the benefits, tomato plants are NOTORIOUS for growing lateral stems.

These lateral stems are tiny stems that FORM between the branches and the leaf joints.

Suckers do not SERVE any helpful purpose but suck energy and nutrients from the plant. These suckers produce new stems that COMPETE with other branches for nutrients.

Pinching out tomato suckers should be a part of regular tomato pruning. So if you haven’t been doing this, START NOW!

It will greatly help your tomatoes to ripen on the vine. 

Pruning and Topping

It’s not just the diseased or yellow leaves that must be pruned to ENCOURAGE tomatoes to ripen. But pruning some healthy leaves also helps the tomatoes ripen more QUICKLY.

Don’t cut off all the leaves, as de-leafing tomatoes is NEVER a good idea.

But if your plant is FULL of healthy green leaves, you trim off vigorous growth.

Besides pruning, topping is also crucial for fruit ripening on the vine. But most gardeners are UNFAMILIAR with it.

Topping is a term for cutting off the primary stem of your plant. It will help your plant STOP wasting energy in growing new leaves.

Thus setting new growth will PUSH the energy towards ripening green fruit on the vine.

Remove Late Flowers and Tomatoes

In the late summer, your plant will continue to flower and TRY to produce more red tomatoes.

But these flowers don’t have enough time to DEVELOP fully. Thus instead of wasting energy, pluck off these flowers. So that the tomato plant puts all of its energy into the existing fruit. 

Similarly, you might NOTICE that a few tiny tomatoes won’t have time to finish ripening. Removing these tomatoes will BOOST ripening on the vine.

Stop Watering

Tomatoes NEED consistent watering to grow and ripen. But make sure that you are not overwatering your plant.

In fact, allowing plants to become SLIGHTLY stressed will boost the ripening process.

If you stop watering your plant, it will start to ripen fruit. The same PROCEDURE happens as you pinch off the flowers. 

What You Can Do If Tomatoes Are Not Ripening Or Turning Red?

What You Can Do If Tomatoes Are Not Ripening Or Turning Red

Sometimes tomatoes can be SLOW to ripen. But it doesn’t mean you can’t SPEED things UP.

If you still have abundant green fruits after following all the tips, ALL IS NOT LOST.

Still, you can follow certain things if your tomatoes aren’t turning red on the vines. These include:

Ripen Indoors

Ideally, tomatoes need to ripen on the vine. But of course, you can’t wait for the temperature to REACH the perfect range.

So, when the frost comes, you HARVEST your tomatoes and ripen them indoors.

Place your harvested tomatoes in an area with optimum temperature, i.e., 60-70°F.

Tomatoes that are already started blushing will turn into red tomatoes. ON THE OTHER HAND, the green ones take some time to ripen.

Put Tomatoes in a Paper Bag

If everything FAILS in tomato ripening, you can place the unripe tomatoes in a brown paper bag.

It is because tomatoes don’t sun to ripen.

  • Tomatoes produce their own ethylene gas to encourage ripening.
  • But you can add a ripe banana with the tomatoes to mature green tomatoes.
  • Don’t forget to place them in a drawer or a darker room.

It works as the ripe banana gives off ethylene gas. Release of ethylene from the fruit as it ripens will PROMOTE other fruit to ripen.

With all these measures, your tomatoes will ripen sooner, probably in a couple of weeks. 

But make sure to CHECK often for signs of rotting and remove any fruit that starts to rot. 

Hang The Plant Upside Down

The final method is to pull the plant and hang it upside down somewhere in a warm and dry place.

Please ensure to put away your plant from frost to ensure plant growth.

Perhaps all your fruits won’t ripen, but you can harvest a FEW final fruits THROUGH this.

So don’t let all your efforts go to waste; try this simple technique to ripen your tomatoes.

Use Greens

Apart from putting all your efforts and making them red, you can also use unripe tomatoes. Although they don’t taste like ripe red tomatoes. They are more tart and acidic, but they are more delicious fried. 

Green tomatoes can be used to make

  • Green Tomato Pickles
  • Green Tomato Relish
  • Green Tomato Salsa
  • Green Tomato Jam

If you’re TIRED of your tomatoes on the vine, try these HACKS to turn them red. These tricks DEFINITELY help you in ripening tomatoes after harvesting.   

FAQs about Tomatoes Not Turning Red

1. Can you pick green tomatoes and let them ripen?

Yes! You PICK green tomatoes and let them ripen off the vine. It is a COMMON practice for those tomatoes that are not ripening on the vines.
· To turn green tomatoes red, PLACE them in a warm sunny location.
· Allow them to sit there for a few days or so.
· As the tomatoes ripen, they will turn green to red. 

2. Can I ripen green tomatoes on a windowsill?

You can ripen tomatoes on a windowsill.
· Place your ripening tomatoes on a SUNNY windowsill and check them frequently.
· Rotate the tomatoes to prevent uneven ripening.
· When the tomatoes turn orange or red, they become softer and more fragrant.
· Store the ripe tomatoes in a cool, dry place and use them shortly. 

3. Does picking tomatoes make more grow?

Picking tomatoes can ENCOURAGE more growth.
When you pick a tomato, it SIGNALS the entire plant to produce more fruit for continues growth.
So, focus on picking ripe or nearly ripe fruit WHILE leaving unripe fruit on the vine. 

4. What are the signs of over-watering tomato plants?

Overwatering the tomato plant causes
· Yellow and wilting leaves
· Fruit cracking
· Root rot
· Fungal growth
Thus, prevent overwatering by CHECKING the soil moisture frequently. Water only when the soil becomes dry.
Also, ensure PROPER drainage to remove excess water from the soil. 

What’s Next

You have LEARNED why your tomatoes aren’t turning red. Your tomatoes aren’t ripening because of the non-suitable weather and feeding problems.

You can ripen your tomatoes by taking care of your plant and preventing overwatering.

If you really find this post helpful, don’t forget to share it with your pals and other tomato growers. 

Eager to LEARN further about Fruits and Vegetables? Visit AsterGardening!

We assure you that HERE you will that quality reads with BENEFICIAL techniques. 

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Khushvinder Dagar

Hey, I'm Khushvinder. I am a marketer by profession but love the feeling of getting my hands dirty and watching plants grow and have a particular interest in native plants and sustainable gardening practices. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with others and have written articles on gardening for various publications.