Why Do Tomatoes Split? (And How To Prevent It)

A split tomato on the vin
Plants At-A-Glance
Splitting tomatoes is a frustrating garden problem, but luckily it's easy to narrow down the cause and fix the problem. Let us explain how!

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The heartbreak that comes when you notice a crack or split in one of your beautiful, red tomatoes ripening on the vine is real, but don’t you worry! We’ve got you covered with what causes tomato cracking, how to prevent it, and what to do if you already have a tomato that’s split. 

Close up on a tomato cracked from the top

The number one reason tomatoes split

The main reason tomatoes split is because of overwatering. The flesh of the tomato absorbs so much water that the skin can’t hold it all anymore and—POP!—the tomato cracks. 

This overwatering can come from the gardener being too heavy handed with the watering wand, but more often, it’s caused by periods of heavy rainfall. This is especially true with early maturing varieties that tend to ripen on the vine when the heavy rains of spring are still falling.

Growfully Protip

If you are growing tomatoes in containers, make sure your container has drainage holes!

Five cherry tomatoes that have split

Some other reasons why tomatoes split

If overwatering isn’t the culprit for your cracking tomatoes, there are a few other things to check:

  • Blossom-end rot: If your tomatoes are “cracking” at the blossom end of the tomato (the end opposite of where it connects to the plant stem), you might be dealing with blossom-end rot. Cracks from blossom-end rot tend to look more like pits or dark, leathery spots. Blossom-end rot is a calcium deficiency that is typically caused by shallow or inconsistent watering, which can be caused by human error or by periods of drought. Solve this by giving your tomato plants a long, deep watering about once per week (either through irrigation or rain). 
  • Over-fertilization: Too much fertilizer, and in particular, too much nitrogen, can cause the plants and fruit to grow so rapidly that the skin splits. Make sure to follow the recommendations on the fertilizer you are using to avoid over-fertilization. 
  • Inconsistent watering: If your tomatoes go from dry conditions and then have a sudden increase in water, you might see an influx of cracking tomatoes. In dry weather, make sure to consistently and deeply water your tomato plants (they need about one inch of water per week). 

Growfully Protip

A good layer of mulch can help you tomato plants have consistent soil moisture. We like pine shavings, but straw, chopped up leaves, or pine needles are also good options.

Cracked tomatoes on the vine

What to Do If Your Tomatoes Split 

If your tomato has split, don’t freak out yet, it’s probably still edible! Ripe or almost-ripe tomatoes that have split can be harvested and used within the next day or two. If the tomato starts to get a sour smell or shows any signs of mold or insects, toss it out. Otherwise, you can cut around the crack and enjoy the tomato as usual.

For unripe tomatoes, you can try to pick the tomato and keep it on the kitchen counter to ripen, but be aware that the longer a tomato is cracked, the higher chance it has of going bad. 

Tomato Varieties That Are Less Prone to Splitting

If cracking tomatoes are a common problem in your garden, you might want to try some crack-resistant tomatoes. Here are some of our favorite varieties:

  • Jetstar
  • Mountain Spring
  • Mountain Fresh

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Cassie is a Certified Master Gardener and the founder of Growfully. She's been gardening organically for over two decades, and she's so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!
Meet Cassie
Meet Your Guide

Hi! My name is Cassie.

I’m a Certified Master Gardener and founder of Growfully. I’ve been gardening organically for over two decades, and I’m so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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