Watering tomato plants is as crucial as pruning, preparing soil, feeding, etc.. If neglected or done incorrectly it can lead to development of fungus and other disease that could cause your tomato plants to underperform or even die. It's easy to make mistakes because the methods we use will vary with weather conditions, where we grow our tomato plants and what type of garden we are growing them in.
Tomatoes love the moisture, but at the same time, they can't stand being drenched to a point where their roots are consistently standing in water. Avoid pouring too much water as it makes air exchange in the roots and soil more difficult. So, how much water is too much?
How Much Water Do Tomato Plants Need?
The amount of water your tomato plants will need will depend on several factors:
Climate: Are you gardening in a hot and dry environment, or one that receives plenty or average rainfall? In drier conditions you will need to monitor watering of your tomato plants more closely, making sure not to allow the soil to totally dry out. In climates or conditions where there is more than average rainfall, overwatering can be a problem. You will need to plant your tomato plants in "raised beds" or "rased rows" to provide proper drainage. Then, during dry periods you can check the soil moisture with your finger to determine if plants need water.
Soil Type: Are you growing your tomato plants in clay-based, loamy, or sandy soil? Plants grwn in clay-based garden soil will usually require less supplemental rainfall. Clay doesn't drain as quickly as sandy soils so you must be careful not to overwater your plants. If you are growing your tomato plants in containers that are filled with loamy potting mix or soil, always use the finger test to check for moisture before watering. Also make sure you choose pots that have drainage holes at the base. Because it drains so quickly, sandy soil may need to be amended with peat moss to help retain moisture. Whichever type of soil you are growing your plants in, just make sure not to over or under water them. The finger test method is always the best way to check if a plant needs to be watered.
Raised Beds: If you are growing your tomato plants in raised beds with well-amended soil, keep in mind that the soil will drain quicker than in garden beds planted at ground level. This means your plants will be less susceptible to too much moisture in the soil, but you'll need to keep a closer eye on your plants to make sure they are receiving ample water.
Indoor Tomatoes: Yes, tomato plants can actually be grown indoors, ionside a greenhouse and even inside your home if you can provide enough light or have a sunroom. When growing tomato plants indoors, always use a professional grade potting mix in the container at planting time. Water indoor tomato plants as you would other houseplants. Before watering a plant, use the finger test or a moisture meter to check for soil moisture. Allow soil to dry out somewhat, but not completely, between waterings.
Other Suggestions For Watering Tomato Plants
- Watering your tomato plants one at a time by hand is recommended over using automated irrigation systems. Sometimes, soil porosity can be different from one plant in the garden to another. Each of your plants is a unique individual so watering them individually is the best way to go.
- Watering each of your tomato plants individually also keeps you close to them, where you can identify any problems or threats as early as possible. If you can catch pest's early there will be no serious infestation. If you can catch disease or blight early, one plant can be removed verses the entire plot.
- Always water around the base of the plant, avoiding the foliage. Do not over water or soak seedlings as this can promote disease and rot.
- Water early in the day to discourage blight.
Taking good care of and watering your tomatoes on a regular basis will not only keep your plants happy and healthy, but keep you happy as well with all the tasty fruit the plant will provide. It's no wonder that the tomato is the most popular plant grown in a vegetable garden. Tomato plants do not require a lot of work and the reward is absolutely worth it.