Spot and Prevent Blossom-End Rot in Your Vegetable Garden

Blossom-end rot usually occurs when there are wide fluctuations in moisture.
Blossom-end rot usually occurs when there are wide fluctuations in moisture.
(Photo: Fructibus/Wikimedia Commons)

If you plant tomatoes, then you’ve probably seen a few sunken, black or leathery brown spots at the blossom end of some of your fruits. That’s blossom-end rot.

Blossom-end rot is a common problem in tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash. The disease usually occurs when there are wide fluctuations in moisture.

This reduces the intake and movement of calcium into the plant, causing tissues to break down.

How to Spot Blossom-End Rot

Blossom-end rot often begins when the fruit or vegetable is green or ripening. The disease starts as a small, depressed, water-soaked area on the blossom end of the fruit or vegetable.

As the spot expands, it becomes sunken and turns dark.

Blossom-end rot often begins when the fruit or vegetable is green or ripening.
Blossom-end rot often begins when the fruit or vegetable is green or ripening.
(Photo: Scott Nelson/Flickr)

How to Prevent Blossom-End Rot

  • The key to preventing blossom-end rot is proper soil preparation. Maintain a soil pH of around 6.5 to prevent the disease.
  • Apply lime to the soil to increase the ratio of calcium ions to other competitive ions.
  • You can also add crushed eggshells, bone meal, or gypsum to the transplant hole to enhance calcium intake.
You can add crushed eggshells, gypsum, or bone meal to the transplant hole to fortify your plant's calcium intake.
You can add crushed eggshells, gypsum, or bone meal to the transplant hole to fortify your plant’s calcium intake. (Photo: Congerdesign/Pixabay)

Proper Moisture and Mulch

  • Be sure to maintain a uniform moisture supply. Use mulches and irrigation to avoid drought stress.
  • If it’s rainy, ensure your plants have good drainage. Your plants need about once inch of moisture a week.
Use mulches and irrigation to avoid drought stress.
Use mulches and irrigation to avoid drought stress. (Photo: Corrode2K/Pixabay)

Avoid Over-Fertilizing and Don’t Cultivate Near Roots

  • Do not cultivate or hoe near the roots of your tomato plants. For fertilizer, use nitrate nitrogen instead of ammoniacal nitrogen. The latter increases blossom-end rot.
  • You should avoid over-fertilizing your plants during the early fruiting stage. That is when blossom-end rot is more likely to occur.
  • Staking the plants when they’re young can also be helpful.
You should avoid over-fertilizing your plants during the early fruiting stage. That is when blossom-end rot is more likely to occur.
You should avoid over-fertilizing your plants during the early fruiting stage. That is when blossom-end rot is more likely to occur.

Understanding What Your Crops Need

There is not much you can do once the rot begins. If you remove the affected fruit, the plant might blossom again and set normal fruit.

Apply a liquid calcium fertilizer after removing the affected fruit and make sure to follow the tips above for the rest of your crop.

Growing your own vegetables is both fun and rewarding. All you really need is some decent soil and a few plants.

But to be really successful, you’ll need to understand what it takes to keep your plants vigorous and healthy.

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