I've heard that too much water and/or fertilizer can slow down the ripening of tomatoes (brandywine) and peppers (sunrise, carmen). My plants are big and healthy, all with full-sized fruits. They do not seem to be any closer to turning red than they were a week or so ago.

Lately we get one or two good rainstorms a week but it's been dry in between. I water the garden once a day when it hasn't rained.

Should I stop watering tomatoes and peppers? Would that speed up their ripening?

Edit: as for the fertilizer, I had my soil analyzed and amended it before planting to correct a few deficiencies (chicken manure, blood meal, sul-po-mag). I added some oyster shell a while ago to stop blossom end rot on the peppers (which worked). I haven't done any fertilizer since.

  • Do you hand-water of use a sprinkler/irrigation system? Approximately, how much water do the plants get every day?
    – Jurp
    Commented Jul 30, 2022 at 13:58
  • 1
    I hand water, with a hose. I wouldn't know how to measure the amount of water they get
    – nuggethead
    Commented Jul 30, 2022 at 14:00
  • 2
    If you restrict water ,be aware that a subsequent strong rain may cause skin to split on ripe and nearly ripe tomatoes . Commented Jul 30, 2022 at 15:01
  • Are you growing in containers or in the ground? If containers, how big are they? Commented Jul 31, 2022 at 4:09
  • 1
    In the ground (garden)
    – nuggethead
    Commented Jul 31, 2022 at 10:41

1 Answer 1


For tomatoes:

You can safely stop watering your tomatoes. Watering twice (sometimes thrice) a week is the general recommendation for mature plants, I believe (so, if it rains sufficiently twice a week, I think you're good with that, and/or a possible hose-watering once a week, too).

Depending on how much rain they actually get in a storm, you may or may not want to add more.

Whether or not the change in watering will affect the ripening is anybody's guess. I've personally experimented with both overwatering and underwatering tomatoes, and while there are differences with specific varieties in days to maturity that way, I haven't noticed an overall statistical difference in when all kinds of tomatoes ripen (for every one that ripens soon, there's one that ripens later, and vice versa). I've had super early and super late tomatoes both ways, but not necessarily the same ones. Soil temperature makes a similar difference. I know you mentioned specific varieties; so, just take what I said as food for thought (not as me addressing what you said).

It's normal for tomatoes (and peppers) to look the same for a number of weeks after they reach their full size, before they ripen. I wouldn't sweat it. Just be patient. It's barely August. Extra phosphorus is supposed to speed ripening somewhat, though (but I wouldn't recommend worrying about it, unless your season is about to end).

For peppers: Keep watering the peppers. I recommend watering them every two days, unless they're still sufficiently moist or wet. Mulch can reduce watering frequency needs. However, in some soils and climates, you may need to water more (like if the soil dries out really fast). For my peppers in the ground, I grow them with black plastic, which would reduce the watering needs, and I water them about every two days.

Whether or not it would affect the ripening speed, peppers need more frequent waterings than tomatoes.

Other things will affect ripening speed more than how much you water. Watering more can make nitrogen more available. If your soil is high in nitrogen, watering a lot would probably be a problem (and might affect ripening). If your soil has a normal amount, I wouldn't worry too much.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.