Stopping to Smell the Tomato Blossoms

Tomato BlossomI don’t suppose tomato blossoms really have a smell. If they do, it is overwhelmed by smell of tomato foliage, which is still a pleasing scent.

Poor little tomato blossoms. Gardeners watch for them. We laud their appearance and lament their falls. We count the days from blossom to fruit. They are essential to the process of bringing forth tomato fruit into the world and yet, do we ever stop to look at them?

Several years ago, around the time I first started to explore the world of heirloom tomatoes, I was alarmed to find that the blossoms on one of my tomato plants didn’t look quite right. They were too full, too frilly. I fretted a bit, but eventually let it go and hoped for the best. I got perfectly normal tomatoes from the plant so I supposed nothing was wrong. But I did watch my tomato blossoms a little more closely after that. It wasn’t long until I discovered that tomato blossoms can vary as much as their fruit does.

Tomato BlossomIf you have never noticed this about tomato blossoms, I would not be surprised. Besides the whole craving for fresh tomatoes that blinds even the most observant of people, tomato blossoms, for the most part, are shy. While squash and cucumber blossoms flaunt themselves around the garden like a cheerleader in the back of the quarterback’s car, tomato blossoms keep their yellow skirts demurely pointed towards the ground. You have to make an effort to peek under those petals.

I have found that tomato blossoms can be double or single. Have 5 petals or 10 or more. They can have thin frilly petals or just a few broad ones. So far, I have not noticed a pattern to the size and shape of the blossom to the color and taste of the fruit, but to be honest, I have not given the topic too much thought.

Tomato Blossom

Tomatoes are one of the garden’s finest products, and its flowers will never be a startling centerpiece. But sometimes it is nice to take note of the prelude to the culinary symphony.

3 thoughts on “Stopping to Smell the Tomato Blossoms
  1. Thank you for posting this. I tried a different variety this year and feared something was wrong when Omar’s Lebanese put forth a blossom that looked more like a dahlia than the simpler bloom my Romas usually wear.

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  2. Karen on

    Hello from Canada :)
    interesting fact
    Growers of giant tomatoes for contests specifically look for abnormally large, double or “compound” blossoms as these are the ones which are capable when properly nurtured of producing the prize winning heaviest tomatoes.
    happy gardening
    K.

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  3. The “dahlia” description fits perfectly! This was my first hear growing heirlooms, and about 1/4 of my plants produced these huge, frilly fancy blossoms right in the middle of the plant, and it seemed it was only the first one or two blossoms of the season on each plant that looked like that – the rest of the blossoms (same plant) were much smaller and less elaborate with fewer petals. Too bad all those first blossoms fell off, or I might have had some prize-winners for the Puyallup Fair coming up in a few weeks…

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