Skip to Content

How To Get Your Tomatoes To Ripen Faster! 6 Simple Secrets To Success

Looking for a few tips and tricks to get your tomatoes to ripen faster?

Anyone who has ever grown a tomato plant knows how excruciating it can be to wait for a tomato to ripen. Especially when you can already imagine slicing it up and putting it on your favorite sandwich!

Tomatoes can certainly be finicky when it comes to ripening on the vine. Early in the season, it seems as though they can hang for weeks without the slightest change in color. And unfortunately, if it takes them too long, they can often rot from within before ever completely maturing.

how to get tomatoes to ripen
It can seem like forever and a day waiting on a tomato to begin to ripen. The good news is that there are a few things a gardener can do to help hasten the process.

It is certainly true that tomatoes take a long time to reach maturity. In fact, along with pepper plants, they have one of the longest seed-to-harvest time frames of any vegetable plant. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help them ripen a little faster than usual!

Although weather conditions can play a big role in the ripening process, there are a few key tips and tricks that can truly help you get your tomatoes onto your table in a much more timely fashion. With that in mind, here is a look at six of the best ways to have ripe tomatoes faster than ever this year!

How To Get Tomatoes To Ripen Faster – 6 Secrets To Success!

#1 Give Your Plants Air!

In the race to ripen, good circulation is one of the biggest secrets to success. Plants need oxygen to grow, produce fruit, and most importantly, help ripen it!

Remove the lower branches on your tomato plants to allow for better air flow. For smaller, more compact tomato plants, remove the bottom six to ten inches. For larger heirloom types, remove twelve to eighteen inches.

Giving the plants space at the bottom allows air to flow freely. Not only will this help your plants to ripen their fruit faster, it also keeps them healthier as well. Proper air flow helps prevent disease and mildew, and it also aids in increasing pollination rates.

pruning tomatoes to prevent blight
Pruning underneath your tomatoes helps provide better air flow to the plant. Not only will it help to ripen tomatoes faster, but it will also keep your plants healthier too.

In addition to the bottom of plants, don’t be afraid to remove a bit of middle growth as well. Contrary to popular belief, light does not play a key role in ripening fruit, but the added air flow through the middle of the plant will! See: How To Prune Tomato Plants

#2 Don’t Overwater – How To Get Tomatoes To Ripen Faster

One of the biggest reasons tomatoes fail to ripen in a timely fashion is that they are getting too much water. In fact, tomato plants suffer far more health issues from overwatering than underwatering.

Tomatoes need about one inch of water per week to produce a healthy crop. Any more than that, and the plant’s roots become water-logged, resulting in the plant stopping most production, growth – and yes, the ripening process!

Only water your plants when the soil is completely dry. In addition, the later in the season you go, water less and less. This will keep plants concentrating their energy on ripening mature fruit.

#3 Keep Them Cool – How To Get Tomatoes To Ripen Faster

This can be a tough one to accomplish for some gardens, but extremely hot temperatures and sunlight actually slows the ripening process. And if you can protect your plants from extreme heat and light, it will help them to ripen the fruit faster.

timg podcast banner 23

Tomatoes ripen best outdoors when they are not overheated. 70° to 75° is the optimum temperature for ripening tomatoes. When it gets hotter than that, the stress will slow them down. If at all possible, provide some shade for your plants in the hot afternoon sun.

For potted plants, this can be as simple as moving them into a shady area. For garden plants, you can use a shade cover to help keep them cooler. Plant shade covers do no stop photosynthesis, but do help to keep plants cooler and allow for air flow. Product Link: Plant Shade Covers

It is also important to keep your plants from getting too cold. This too will slow the ripening process. If you live in a cooler area with cool nights, cover your plants overnight to help them hold in the heat. It can play a big role in helping them to mature much more quickly.

#4 Ripen Off The Vine – How To Get Tomatoes To Ripen Faster

Did you know that tomatoes ripen better and faster off of the vine than on it? As crazy as it sounds, once a tomato begins to slightly turn, you will have better luck picking it and ripening it off the vine!

Tomatoes do not need to be on the vine or plant to ripen. Once they begin to turn, leaving them on the vine will continue to use the plant’s resources. Resources that could and should be going to producing more flowers and more fruit.

tomatoes off the vine
Picking tomatoes when they first start to turn is one of the best ways to help your tomato plants produce more tomatoes – and get your tomatoes to ripen quickly.

So once you harvest your slightly turned tomatoes – where should you ripen them? A few places to avoid are sunny windowsills or in the refrigerator!

Once a tomato has started to ripen, it does not need sunlight to help it along. In fact, heat and sunlight can actually blister the fruit. A hot windowsill in direct sunlight will usually create too much heat. In the process, the tomato ripens unevenly and may even rot if left too long.

Refrigerators are a bad choice too. The chilling temperatures actually stop the ripening process all together. The only time tomatoes should go into a fridge is when you are trying to save a few for canning from becoming too ripe.

To ripen your tomatoes best, pick them and place them in a cool, shady location. The ideal temperature for ripening is actually around 70 degrees, with plenty of circulation to help as well.

#5 The Bag & Banana Trick – How To Get Tomatoes To Ripen Faster

Want to really get your tomatoes to turn fast off the vine? Then try the paper bag and banana trick. Ethylene is a gas produced as a fruit ripens, and will help to ripen other fruit as well.

brown paper bag and tomatoes
A brown paper bag and a banana can help to ripen tomatoes quickly.

By placing a few unripe tomatoes into a brown paper bag with a banana, the ethylene produced from the banana will help to ripen the tomatoes quickly. Always be sure to use a brown paper bag and not a plastic bag for this trick. A plastic bag will not allow air in and will rot the fruit.

#6 Pick Often – How To Get Tomatoes To Ripen Faster

Last but not least, the more tomatoes you leave on your plant, the harder time the plant will have handling trying to ripen it all. Pick your tomatoes early and often to keep plants producing and ripening.

Once a plant has too many fruits hanging from it’s stems, the plant will begin to stop production of new blooms and fruit. Pick tomatoes as they start to turn to keep the plant from becoming overloaded.

Here is to having your tomatoes ripen faster than ever this year!

This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, for gardeners. We publish two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. Sign up today to follow via email, or follow along on Facebook here : This Is My Garden. This article may contain affiliate links.