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what causes tomatoes to split on the vine

What Causes Tomatoes to Split on the Vine?

There’s nothing more disappointing than craving a sweet, juicy tomato from the vine, then going out to your garden to find that your tomatoes have split. 

But you did everything right, you say! You put in all the right effort, used fertilizer, and watered them regularly…mostly. What could have possibly gone wrong? 

Luckily, A Garden Patch is here to answer that question: What causes tomatoes to split on the vine? 

For starters, make sure that you have the correct tomato planter. Grow tomatoes the right way with A Garden Patch’s GrowBox. This planter takes all the guesswork out of gardening and provides the perfect spacing, automatic fertilization, and nutrient packs for your garden. Once you’re using the perfect planter, you can address other issues that may lead to tomatoes splitting. 

what causes tomatoes to split on the vine

Types of Tomato Splitting

Tomato splits take two major forms: concentric and lengthwise. Concentric or radial cracking circles the top of the fruit. This is usually due to the type of tomato, as heirloom tomatoes are especially prone to concentric cracking. The good news is this cracking is the least harmful. 

Lengthwise, or vertical, cracking happens just as it sounds — along the length of the tomato. They run down the sides, splitting the fruit open along its surface. 

Regardless of the type, all splitting increases the risk of disease and rotting, so you need to know what causes it and what you can do about it to protect your harvest.

Why Do Tomatoes Split on the Vine?

Now you know how tomatoes split, but you’re still left with the why. So: what causes tomatoes to split on the vine? Many factors go into tomato splitting, from insufficient nutrients to the type of tomato to how ripe it is. 


Tomatoes are up to 95% water. That means you have to be careful about how you water them.

One of the main reasons tomatoes split on the vine is inconsistent watering. If you forget to water your tomatoes one day and, in a panic, try to compensate for it with heavy watering the next day, the sudden increase in water could cause the tomato to split. 

This could also happen after a downpour of rain. If your tomatoes are used to that amount of water, the skin won’t be strong enough to hold all of the water the plant is getting.


Sometimes, it all comes down to genetics. Some varieties of tomatoes are more prone to splitting, while others tend to have stronger skin. It’s important to research before planting your tomatoes to determine if yours are at special risk of splitting.

Sun and Soil

Another factor to consider is the sun. We think of the sun as a good thing when it comes to gardening, and that’s mostly true. Still, too much of a good thing is no longer good. If you snip away at your tomato plants too much and leave them exposed to the sun, the exposure can lead to splitting and other issues.

If the problem isn’t with the sun, try looking down. Well-drained soil is a must for tomato plants. If the soil becomes too dense, the plant’s roots won’t have the room they need. You also need to make sure your soil has the proper nutrients. Calcium deficiency is another common reason that tomatoes split.


Timing is everything when it comes to picking tomatoes. If you pick too early, they won’t be ripe enough. If you pick too late, the tomato might already have split on the vine. Leaving a tomato on the vine for too long can result in the skin splitting, as it doesn’t grow as quickly as it ripens. It will still consume as much water as it can, leading to splitting.

Prevent Tomato Splitting

How Do You Prevent Tomato Splitting?

Let’s face it — what you want to know is how to prevent your tomatoes from splitting. Now that we’ve covered the factors that lead to tomatoes cracking, we can start talking about ways to keep it from happening. The best way to prevent tomato splitting is to start early. Setting the foundation for well-grown plants by taking care of your soil beforehand and planning a watering schedule.

Water Properly

To avoid overwatering your plants, keep a consistent watering schedule. While you can’t control the rain, make sure that any manual watering you’re doing is regular. You should also make a habit of checking the soil moisture before watering, so you can gauge how much it truly needs.

Another way to combat overwatering your tomatoes is to plant them on a raised bed. This helps with drainage and will keep the soil loose enough to let the water flow through freely without getting stuck. You can also add wood chips to the bottom of your tomato plant. This helps with absorption and prevents too much water from rushing into your plant. 

Plant the Right Variety and Pick On Time

Some good tomato varieties that are resistant to splitting are: 

  • Jestar
  • Roma
  • Pruden’s Purple

Being conscious about the tomatoes you choose to plant is one way to be proactive about preventing splitting. After you’ve planted them and watched them grow into the lovely plants you dreamed they’d be, be sure to pick them a little early. This will prevent the issue of letting them get overripe and splitting. 

Plant in a Place With the Right Amount of Sun and Healthy Soil

When you’re planting your tomatoes, ensure the soil drains well and isn’t too compact. This prevents the occasional rainstorm from being an issue. Adding calcium to the soil is another way to set your tomatoes up for success. Once you plant them, make sure you keep your tomatoes shaded. Protecting them from full exposure to the sun will keep them looking healthy. 

Now that we answered what causes tomatoes to split on the vine and how to prevent them, you’re one step closer to that perfect tomato of your dreams. If you want to give your tomatoes another leg-up, remember to use A Garden Patch’s GrowBox for easy gardening and perfect tomato plant spacing. To order yours today, call (800) 519-1955.

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