From the Ground Up Blog

5 Reasons Why Your Vegetable Plants Aren’t Producing Fruit

5 Reasons Why Your Vegetable Plants Aren’t Producing Fruit

It can be very frustrating when the vegetable seedlings you cared for have grown and matured into large healthy plants that do not produce any fruit or fewer fruits than you expected.

This can happen with any type of vegetable where the harvested product is the fruit, and there are a few reasons this may occur. Once you diagnose the underlying reason that your fruit growth is stunted, there are steps you can take to encourage your vegetable plant to produce the fruit you hoped for.

Reasons Why Your Vegetable Plants Aren’t Producing Fruit and How to Solve Them

1. Too Much Vegetative Growth

If your plants are large and healthy but are not producing any fruit, nutrient levels may be the cause. When plants have too much fertilizer or an imbalance of nutrients available for uptake, they may direct all of their energy into growing new leaves, and therefore, may develop very few flowers and fruit.

High levels of nitrogen will encourage the development of new leaves and shoots, while adequate levels of phosphorus will encourage flowering.

Some growers choose to check the nutrient levels in their crop through soil or leaf analysis to determine the levels of nutrients available to or present within the plant.

With this information, they can adjust their fertilizer plans accordingly. If you suspect that your plant’s nutrient levels might be the reason they aren’t producing fruit, consider testing your soil and adjusting your fertilizer.

More: Learn How Macronutrients Affect Plant Growth >

2. Lack of Pollination

If your plants produce blooms but they do not develop fruit or the fruit that do form are misshapen, then you may have low or incomplete pollination. Many fruiting crops require cross-pollination to set fruit.

This is especially important in cucurbit crops like squash, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. A wet summer can also lead to low pollinator activity and result in poor pollination.

To increase your wild pollinator activity, dedicate pollinator habitat areas on your property or plant pollinator-preferred flower varieties among your vegetables. You could also add a beehive to your property or pollinate by hand if it is appropriate for the scale of your operation.

3. High Temperatures

In excessive heat, it can be common for flowers to abort and drop from the plant, even if the flower was pollinated completely. This is because the development of the ovary may not occur under very high temperatures.

Monitor temperatures, pollinator activity, and flower development to determine if high temperatures are to blame, and minimize any other potential stressors to the plants to encourage fruit growth.

4. Incorrect Planting Density

Incorrect planting density may affect growth and yield. Cucurbits are particularly sensitive to planting density and may not produce much fruit if planted too close together.
Pay attention to the recommended plant spacing to optimize fruit set and so that plants do not compete against each other. If using a seeder, be sure to calibrate it each time of use, as seed size may vary from lot to lot.

5. Irregular Harvests

Most fruiting vegetable crops are annuals, meaning they complete a full generation from seedling to seed development in one growing season. When mature fruit are allowed to remain on the plant, it is a signal to the plant that no new flowers are needed.

If you do not experience any of the challenges listed above and have a successful first fruit set, be sure to harvest regularly to encourage the plant to continue flowering and producing new fruit later into the season.

Final Thoughts

In order to harvest the fruit you’ve always wanted, it’s important to observe and listen to your vegetable plants. Once you know what they need to flourish, they’ll be much more likely to perform. If you have additional questions about why your vegetable plants are not setting fruit, please contact our Customer Service Department at 800.544.7938 and we will be happy to assist you.

6 comments

Jul 29, 2022

Hi Gil,
It sounds like you may have too much nitrogen in your soil and not enough phosphorous. We would suggest, as you mentioned, having your soil tested so you know what amendments to add to the raised beds.

Harris Seeds
Jul 29, 2022

Been gardening for 60 yea rs have had beautiful producing gardens. Moved to Vernon bc 2 years ago,last year very hot unusual year. Poor garden except tomatoes they were excellent. This year fairly normal potatoes wonderful tops ,bloomed no potatoes. Carotts , beets same. Have them in raised beds with suggested dirt from our landscaper. Best feeling dirt I’ve ever worked. With As far as compaction goes. Also radishes same. One thing I wasn’t used to every single seed grows, had to learn how to seed again. Have not had my soil analyzed yet as I didn’t expect this to happen this year because of this unusual hot summer last year. Could I be lacking that much Potassium or phosphorus

Gil
Jul 06, 2022

Portia,
Hello and thank you for contacting us. Without more information it is difficult to say what exactly is happening. However, if your plants have blooms but they aren’t producing fruit you may not have complete pollination or the flowers are being pollinated but weather has caused the plants to abort their fruit. Make sure your plants are receiving enough water and fertilize them if you are able. If your area is experiencing variable weather with cool nights, high heat days and not a lot of rain, this could affect your plants. Unfortunately we are often at the mercy of weather patterns. Try to eliminate any points of stress and hopefully the weather will level out so you can enjoy all your hard work and your plants will produce!

Harris Seeds
Jul 06, 2022

Please help my cucumbers and tomatoes have plenty of blooms and the plant looks good and green but no cucumbers and very little tomatoes I have tried everything I know to do and nothing has helped , thank you

Portia sitz
Jun 07, 2022

Re: Pepper plants not setting blossoms. My mom taught me to gently shake/jostle the plants. Somehow that seems to stimulate them. Also, in a sweet voice tell them to set blossoms. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. I went several years growing peppers with little to show for it until I took her advice. By the way, she is 89 years old and still works her garden.

Mr. Hartman
Sep 29, 2021

Most of my garden is doing well, with abundant flowers and vegetable production. My pepper plants, however, that I grew from seed as usual, are not producing flowers. The plants are much larger than usual. Other plants in the area are growing well. I fertilized them with 12-12-12 about a month ago, and this hasn’t made a difference. I haven’t had good peppers for several years, but never due to lack of flowers. I move the location of the plants every year, and they should have ample sun this year. The tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, and limas are doing great.

Linda Badger

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