If your tomato plants are stressed, diseased, or just not producing up to your expectations, chances are you weren’t watering them correctly.
Irregular watering is the common culprit behind many of the problems that growers experience. Stunted growth, yield loss, and fruit cracking are some of the issues you might encounter if your tomato plants aren’t receiving their optimal share of water.
However, don’t let their watering preferences intimidate you.
Tomatoes are one of the simplest vegetables to grow, and understanding their watering needs can help you pull out a bountiful harvest of picture-perfect tomatoes.
Continue reading to learn how much water does a tomato plant need per day.
How Much Water Does A Tomato Plant Need Per Day?
The amount of water your tomato plants need in a day depends on a number of factors. Weather, soil type, tomato cultivar and the growing stage will affect the preferred amount of water they require.
Watering Requirements For Tomato Seedlings
Tomato seedlings need to be kept consistently moist. They should never be wet. If they are in small containers or seed starting trays, check moisture levels daily. You may need to mist the soil using a sprayer bottle several times a day to maintain even moisture levels. If the soil is too moist, wait until it’s a little on the drier side before watering it. However, never let the soil dry out entirely.
Watering Container Grown Tomatoes
Container plants require more frequent watering than those in the garden since the container soil tends to heat up faster, increasing the evaporation rate. Depending on the weather, you may have to water container-grown tomatoes one or more times each day. Water early morning, when the weather is cooler, and the soil has a better chance to absorb water and check again in the afternoon to see if the soil surface feels dry to touch, and you need to offer a second drink.
Watering Garden Tomatoes
Garden tomatoes can benefit from the fact that they have more soil around them, and the roots can spread out in search of moisture. They’ll typically require less water than container-grown tomatoes. However, do make sure that they get between 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week to fruit optimally. In gardening terms, this means that 1 to 1.5 inches of water is needed in a square foot of soil.
However, there’s no fixed measure of the amount of water your garden-growing tomato plants require. Depending on the weather and the type of soil in your garden, you may have to adjust the watering frequency to maintain consistent moisture.
During the start of the season when the temperatures are still low, watering once a day should be enough to keep the soil moist throughout the day. As the growing season progresses and temperatures soar, you’ll need to water more often to maintain the same moisture.
Watering Tomatoes In Hot Weather
Hot weather calls for more frequent watering of your tomato plants. Since soil temperatures are higher, water evaporates much faster in peak summers than it does around spring. In addition, the transpiration rate of tomato plants also increases with the outdoor temperatures. All in all, you’ll need to make up for the faster loss of water by watering more often.
To keep it simple, you’ll need to water as often as it takes to maintain even moisture in the soil. Start by watering early in the morning and check again later during the day to see if the soil is moist an inch below the top. If it’s dry, your plants are thirsty. For best results, hold off the second watering of the day until evening when the temperatures are lower, and so is evaporation.
How Does Soil Type Affect Watering Needs
When growing tomatoes in the garden, understand the type of soil you have. Well-drained fertile loam is best for your tomatoes. Clayey soil drains more slowly and will need to be watered less often than loamy soil. You can grow tomatoes in clay soil but there are some steps you need to take. Sandy soil, on the other hand, drains faster than loam. If you have sandy soil in your garden, you might have to water more frequently than what’s standard. As a rule of thumb, just press a finger into the soil to check if it’s wet just below the surface. If it isn’t, it’s time to water it.
Tips For Watering Tomatoes
Slow And Deep Watering
Dumping a jug of water into the plant isn’t a good idea. Provide a slow stream of water until it’s thoroughly absorbed by the soil. Aim at moistening at least 6 inches below the soil surface so that roots have a chance to grow deeper and stronger.
Water The Base
Always aim the hose or the watering can nozzle at the base of the plant. Moisten the soil, but avoid soaking the foliage. Drenching the leaves makes the plants prone to diseases and pest attacks.
Tomato Plant Watering Hack
I keep old plastic drink bottles cut the bottoms off and bury them upside down next to the plant. This will enable you to get water deep into the tomato plant’s roots. This is especially useful if you have clay soil.
Mulching the soil slows down evaporation from the ground and conserves moisture within the soil until the next watering. It will save the soil from drying out between waterings.
Cut Back On Water When Tomatoes Are Almost Ripe
Cutting back water as fruits turn ripe signals the plant to concentrate its energies in the ripening processes than using it for new growth.
There are numerous drip watering solutions available these are especially useful if you are short on time. I currently have a lot of watering to do and drip watering and feeding solutions are something I want to look into and feedback. Do you use a drip watering solution for your tomatoes, what works for you? I would love to hear from you in the comments section.
So you know how much water does a tomato plant need per day. To put it in simple words, never let the plants dry out. Neither should you soak the soil wet. Water regularly and evenly to enjoy the juiciest, sweetest tomatoes from your garden.