Tomato plants are a summer vegetable home gardeners can successfully grow in containers. Container tomatoes are often kept outdoors during the warm summer months. This subjects tomato plants to natural growing conditions, including rainfall, which can be both beneficial and problematic for tomato plants.
The type of container your plant is in will be one of the primary factors influencing whether your tomato plant can stay outdoors during rainfall. Having a draining container for your tomato plant is necessary if you wish to leave your plant out in the rain. A draining container will help prevent over-saturation of the soil, and which will reduce the likelihood of overwatering and mold and mildew formation. If your tomato container is not self-draining, it is not suggested to leave it out in heavy rains. If the container has a saucer, empty it after the rain has ceased.
Age of Plant
The age of your tomato plant will influence whether or not your tomato plant can withstand heavy or even long rains outdoors. If you have a tomato seedlings, the harshness of an outdoor rainfall may be more than they are able to withstand. Check your tomato seedlings to see the size of their development. If your tomato seedlings are still in seed pots and are less than 4 inches tall, it is not suggested to leave them outdoors for extended rainfalls. Tomato seedlings taller than 4 inches can be left out during moderate rainfalls.
The severity of the rain will affect how readily your tomato plant can survive the rainfall. In heavy storms, there is often a heavy downpour as well as strong winds and in some cases, even the possibility of blowing debris. If the rainstorm is very severe, it may be best to bring in your tomato plants, as container tomatoes are not as hardy or as sturdy as regular garden bed tomatoes. If the rainfall is only light or moderate, depending on the other factors in consideration, you can likely leave your tomato plant out in the rain.
Staking a container tomato plant is important for proper tomato plant growth, especially if you are planning on leaving it outdoors for the majority of the growing season. Staking a tomato plant not only helps train the plant, but it also increases the overall stability and strength of the plant as it provides additional support.
- University of Illinois Extension; Watch Your Garden Grow: Tomato; Ron Wolford, et al.
- Ohio State University Extension; Container Vegetable Garden Guide; Karen Demboski, Annette Swanberg and Jane C. Martin
- University of Arizona: Master Gardener Manual - Container Garden; Lucy Bradley, et al.
- Purdue University Department of Horticulture; Tomatoes; B. Rosie Lerner; 2001
- North Dakota State University Extension; Questions on Tomatoes; Ron Smith