Do Tomato Plants Prefer Morning or Afternoon Sun?


Tomato plants have a number of requirements, and one of the most important of those is adequate sunlight to fuel the growing process. If you're wondering whether the tomatoes need morning or afternoon sunlight, the frank answer is: both.

Sunlight Needs

  • To produce the strongest, healthiest tomatoes, the tomato plant needs at least eight hours of sunlight each day. That means that, regardless of your location, your plant should will get sun during both the morning and afternoon for ideal growth. Avoid overheating your tomato plants with sunlight. Tomatoes fruit best between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so constant exposure to extreme high temperatures from sunlight can lead to wilting and drying out.


  • Ideally, provide your tomato plants with adequate sunlight while shielding them from the sun during the hottest part of the day, generally between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you want to balance the plants, position them so that they are exposed to the sun consistently between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Use a shady, taller tree or shrub carefully position between the plant and the sun to guard against the sunlight during the hot times, so that the plant receives four hours of sun each morning and four hours in the afternoon.

Why Sunlight Is Important

  • Sunlight provides the tomato plant with the energy it needs to survive. Plants use energy from the sun to fuel photosynthesis, which enables the plant to grow. It also uses the sun's energy to fuel other biological needs, such as respiration. Only through exposure to sunlight can the tomato convert the food and water it receives to active growth, much like our metabolism converts food to energy.

Affects of Too Little Sunlight

  • In theory, the tomato plant can get by with less than eight hours of sun each day, but the results on the plant will be less than desirable. The less sun the plant receives, the smaller the fruits will be. The plant also produces fewer tomatoes, as it simply will not have the energy to fuel production. Sun-stressed plants are also more likely to develop disease or attract insects, and to take longer to ripen.

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  • Photo Credit Tomato plant image by Trombax from
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