When to Water Tomato Plants?

Keeping tomatoes properly watered prevents problems like cracking fruit.
Keeping tomatoes properly watered prevents problems like cracking fruit. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

As tomato plants grow, their water needs grow as well. Once a tomato plant begins to produce fruit, more frequent, deeper watering is required. It is important to keep growing tomato plants properly hydrated, to prevent diseases, promote healthy growth and encourage a bountiful harvest.

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Watering from Overhead

When tomato plants are watered from overhead, using a sprinkler system, watering can or spray nozzle, and the leaves get wet, it is best to water early in the morning. Watering early in the day allows time for the sun to dry the leaves of the plant, preventing diseases such as blight. Watering from overhead requires more water, more often, particularly as the plants get larger because the foliage prevents some water from reaching the roots.

Watering Using Soaker Hoses or Drip Irrigation

It is best to water tomato plants close to the roots, using soaker hoses, drip irrigation or manually applying water with a hose to the base of the plant. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation help distribute the water to a wider area, to promote lateral root growth. When watering manually, be sure water is given to the ground surrounding the plant and not just by the stem. When using this method, tomatoes can be watered at any time of day.

Water Deeply

Whether you water from overhead or close to the roots, it is important to water tomatoes deeply. Allow the soil to dry out a bit before watering again. Then, water plants thoroughly, to encourage deeper root growth and to be sure the roots are saturated. Most tomato plants require at least 1 inch of water per week to thrive. A 2-inch layer of mulch will help retain moisture in the soil around the plants.

Check The Soil Moisture Level

Weather affects the amount of water tomato plants need. Tomatoes in hot and dry conditions need to be manually watered more often than tomatoes in wetter environments. The soil the tomato is planted in also dictates the amount of watering the plant requires. The best way to determine if tomato plants need more or less water is to manually check the soil. Dig a small hole with your finger to a depth of about 2 inches. Place your finger inside the hole and feel the soil, or scoop out a little bit to examine in the palm of your hand. If the soil is dry, water the plants. If it is still moist, there is no need to water yet.


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