Last Updated on February 24, 2023 by Mattias
Do you dream of having a bountiful tomato harvest every season? Proper watering is one of the most crucial steps for a blooming home garden. Underwatering can result in rotten yield, while too much water can lead to damaged roots.
It is coherent for you to want a solid and healthy crop, so if you wish to know how often to water tomato plants, keep reading this article.
How Often To Water Tomato Plants?
It is a common question, and talking about the minimum amount, your plant would need water at least once a day in the early stages. But no definite answer would determine how often to water tomato plants overall.
It varies on several factors. From your location and weather to soil type and plant’s growth stage, the plant’s watering needs keep changing. However, it’s not difficult to interpret when your tomato plants need water, and a close inspection of the soil moisture can give you answers.
Still not clear how much and how often to water tomato plants? Take a look below at some specific scenarios and find your answer.
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Factors That Determine How Often To Water Tomato Plants
The growth stage is a significant factor that dramatically influences how often you water your plants. For instance, small tomato plants need plenty of water to grow correctly and establish roots.
When it reaches the mid-stage, the roots become more saturated over time, and water requirements decrease. At last, when your tomato plant is in its final stages and it’s matured. The root system becomes much more complex, and the water depletes faster. The plant tends to get more thirsty and requires at least a gallon of water in this part of its life cycle.
As for the fruit itself, extensive water is required to support its growth, and once it is noticeably ripe, water should be limited to avoid splitting the tomato’s skin. Adjusting the water supply according to fruit growth will ensure tastier tomatoes.
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Plants need more water in the height of summer than in moderate spring because the heat of the day and direct sunlight evaporates most of the water and leaves little behind for the plant itself. Despite weather conditions, tomato plants will need water for photosynthesis, essential nutrients, and cooling down, so it is vital to check up on your tomato plants at least twice a day in hot weather. By doing so, you can make sure they are not running dry.
In the season of heavy rainfall, you should adjust your schedule around the weather forecasts and rain patterns.
It is recommended to water your plants only when rainfall isn’t forecasted. If you water them beforehand and heavy rain showers fall, the soil will turn soggy and waterlogged, leading to root rot. After the rain, their roots will be overwatered, and they will have good access to their survival needs which is why you don’t need to water them during that period.
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Kind of Soil
The type of soil in your garden or container will also play a massive role in deciding how often to water the plant. That’s because some soil types have textures that can hold and absorb more water than others. The extent of their organic matter and particle type determines their water-holding capacity.
For instance, sandy soil has open-air spaces, reducing its ability to retain water. Meanwhile, loamy soil is suitable for tomato plants.
Container tomato plants and garden beds tomato plants have different watering needs. Containers are above ground, meaning water evaporates much more quickly, and roots have little chance of getting saturated.
Meanwhile, garden tomato plants’ watering needs are less. Once their soil and roots are thoroughly hydrated, even a little water supply will remain sufficient for them for an extended amount of time.
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How Often To Water Tomatoes in Pots?
The watering needs might be a little specific if you grow tomato plants in pots or containers rather than in garden beds. As mentioned above, plants in containers need a more significant amount of water. That is because, unlike garden beds, these tomato plants are grown above the ground, meaning that the soil is more exposed to heat. Direct exposure to the full sun causes the water to heat up and evaporate faster.
The question of how often to water tomato plants in pots depends directly on the size of your plant, its growth stage, and the general state of the weather. The best way to know when to water your plants in containers would be to check the soil’s dryness level after short periods of time.
Seedlings and young plants need more water because they don’t have well-developed roots and can’t access water as freely and easily from the soil as mature plants. However, The soil’s moisture level is good naturally at the mid-stage when the weather is cooler, so partially grown tomato plants do not require as much water. When it reaches the stage of the total growth in mid-July, the weather is more dry and hot, meaning plants will get thirsty and require large amounts.
It is considered a good rule of thumb to water container plants freely until water runs down from the bottom.
How Often to Water Tomatoes in Garden Beds?
Garden tomatoes need comparatively less water than container-grown plants, but that doesn’t mean they should be left unwatered for long periods. They require less water because their roots are deeper and capable of absorbing more water. This particular type of root growth keeps the soil moist for longer.
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Water in raised beds dries out faster than in-ground beds, so the first and most important factor determining how often to water tomato plants in garden beds is whether they are in raised or in-ground garden beds.
It is recommended to water plants once a day daily when they are in the early stage, but as the plant grows and the general temperature increases, you might need to water them twice. Much like a container, the decision here mainly lies on the plant’s size, weather, and growth stage as well.
Mulching is highly recommended for moisture retention, and in mid-summer, when the weather is generally friendly, your tomato plants in raised beds might only require one or two inches of water once a week.
What Happens if You Overwater Tomato Plants?
Tomatoes are water-loving plants; even so, it’s nearly impossible to overwater them. Frequent watering without much regard for a consistent schedule can cause fatal results.
You can tell that a plant is being overwatered when the tomato fruit is visibly cracked or the lower leaves have blisters and bumps. It eventually causes the roots to drown in the water, die, and rot.
If the soil is wet and you water the plant regardless, then the following signs will occur.
- Wilted stems
- Tarnished leaves
- Bumps and blisters
- Soft and limp leaves
In this unfortunate situation, the best way to let the plant naturally recover is to take extra care of its water supply and decrease it on a survival basis.
The plant can be delicately pulled out and put on a newspaper in emergencies. This will help the roots to dry out excess water and may help them bloom again.
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What Happens if You Underwater Your Tomato Plants?
Tomato plants require moist soil for healthy growth, and if they are not given enough water, they will either have slow growth or a stunted one. Fruit will not harden because of dry soil and curled-up roots. Furthermore, water-stressed plants will be droopy, and the fruit will split and develop problems like BER. In particular, a lack of water can easily lead to blossom end rot if we talk about container plants.
You can tell that a tomato plant is underwatered when the following signs occur.
- Wilted or curled-up leaves
- Dried soil that looks pulled away
- Crispy and light weighted leaves
This plant can be recovered by maintaining a healthy watering routine and thoroughly hydrating the brick-hard soil. Reduce the intervals between watering times and if the soil does not seem to be improving, consider changing it entirely if necessary. The greenery of the leaves will indicate that your plant is fully recovered in three to four weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q-How much water does a tomato plant need?
A- Tomato seedlings and young plants need a lot of water. They would need 30 liters of water per week. However, there needs to be efficient management and scheduling. For more consistency, divide this amount by 4 liters per day.
Q- Should you water tomatoes every day?
A- Watering container plants in the early morning is a good idea to ensure healthy growth. Garden bed plants require an inch of water per week, while small container plants need approximately 3,7 gallons (4 liters). Remember that watering needs can always vary based on the soil’s dryness.
Q-How can I water my tomato plants?
- Use a watering can
- Use a hand spray for seedlings
- Water with soaker hoses
- Drip irrigation system
- Use a sprinkler
Q- How to know if your tomato plant needs water?
A- the best time to water your tomato plant is in the morning, but you can tell whether your plant needs more water by inspecting the soil’s moisture. If the top of the soil seems dry or looks relatively unmoisturized, it’s time to water immediately. Curled-up leaves are also a sign of under-watered plants, so keep an eye out for them.
How Often To Water Tomato Plants Summary
This article explicitly discussed all the essential details you need to know about watering tomato plants. Slow growth isn’t the only potential downside of an improper watering routine. Remember that plants can even die if they are not given the right amount of water.
We also talked about the factors that distinguish each plant’s water needs from another, along with the adverse effects that would occur if your plant is over or underwatered.
We hope this information helps you. Use this to your advantage and maintain a bountiful vegetable garden.
Meet Mattias Jonsson, the head of content at RainSaucers. Passionate about gardening and water-related topics, he’s dedicated to providing expert information and resources to help improve your home, health, and wallet. Learn from his research and experience.