Watering tomato plants appropriately is successful for their success. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most common gardening mistakes. It is often too easy to submerge a plant and deprive it of oxygen, resulting in weak growth as overwatering causes the root rot, thus weak growth.
In the worst-case situation, you go too far, and you get limited fruit production, stunted growth, or plant death.
Aside from the warnings, properly watering your tomato plants is not difficult. It may take some practice at first, but once you get the fundamentals of water, how often to water, and how much to water, you won’t have to deal with proper watering.
The critical thing is to learn how maintaining consistent soil moisture helps your plants grow while making things easy for yourself.
In our guide, you can learn how often you water tomato plants for healthy growth. By the end, once you know what tomato plants need and how often to water tomatoes in pots, you can expect healthy yields of juicy fruits. (Read About The Tomato Hornworm Life Cycle)
How Often Should Tomatoes Be Watered?
The question of ‘how often do you water tomato plants?’ does not have a simple solution. For instance, watering tomato seedlings is very different from watering plants halfway through the growing season.
Several elements will determine the frequency, including tomato plant growth stage, potting mixes used, container material, if growing in-ground gardens, and weather.
It’s easy to figure out when to water your tomato plants because experts recommend giving them an inch or two of water every week.
Whether the weather changes or your tomato plants consume more water because of vigorous growth, you can visually check daily to determine if they need a drink or use a soil moisture meter.
Visually assess the soil to see if it appears to be dry, and then feel the soil surface with your finger to see if it is dry. If your tomatoes in pots appear and feel dry, it’s time to water them. If you are growing seedlings, use a spray bottle to mist rather than adding water by other means.
You water tomatoes a couple of times a week early in the season when they are young and irrigate tomatoes in pots every day. Garden tomatoes are deeply watered once a week once the plants have matured, bloomed, and fruited or as the soil dries from too much heat or in direct sunlight.
Inconsistent watering of tomatoes is as harmful as inadequate watering. Blossom end rot can harm tomato plants, especially those planted in soggy potting soil with excess water in pots that can’t drain.
Summer tomato plants in raised beds are watered weekly unless gloomy and rainy. Mulching my tomato plants with three inches of straw enhances moisture retention and reduces the watering frequency.
The stage of growth is also essential. Reduce watering after tomato plants start fruiting in late summer, especially large-fruited heirloom types, to concentrate tastes and reduce splitting and breaking.
Size of the plant, container material and size, growing media, and weather all affect watering requirements for potted tomato plants. For example, planting late spring tomato seedlings requires less watering than planting late July tomato plants.
Young container-grown tomato plants need less water and are smaller, but the weather is cooler. However, mid-summer plants will be ready to fruit as their roots are dense and thirsty, so they probably need daily watering in the hot, dry summer. (Learn How Far Apart To Plant Tomatoes)
How Often Should Tomato Plants Be Watered In Hot Weather?
For container-grown tomatoes, you can do a few things to keep the soil moist. Potted tomatoes that are the Cherry tomatoes type need less water than larger tomatoes as there isn’t as much tomato growth in the fruits.
Here are some smart watering techniques to cut down and prevent overwatering that spreads diseases.
Plant in large containers
A large pot can store more soil and dry out as soon as a smaller pot or planter. Choose containers that can hold at least five to seven gallons of growing media for tomatoes. Even better are ten-gallon containers.
It takes around 1 gallon of water per square foot in a regular garden so that a large pot could be around the same.
Consider the potting mix while choosing pots for tomato plants. Planters made of terra cotta or cloth dry out faster than those made of plastic or metal. Make sure the containers have enough drainage holes as well.
Apply a layer of organic material to the top of your growing medium after the tomato seedling has been put in the pot. This moisture regulator will also add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes as you grow tomatoes.
Once the tomato seedling has been planted in the pot, add about an inch of organic mulch on the surface of the growing medium. You can use straw, pine needles, or another mulch to the highest container line to help retain moisture.
Plant in self-watering containers
A self-watering planter with a water reservoir in the bottom can be purchased or made at home. This can cut watering time in half, stopping you from adding too much water when the soil feels dry. Plants begin to soak up water as they need it, and all you do is make sure the tank is full.
How To Water Tomato Plants
Now that you know how often you should water tomato plants, you need to water them. Water deeply to saturate the soil when watering tomatoes in containers or gardens. Deep watering, especially in garden beds, promotes deeper root systems and drought-resistant plants. Irrigating garden beds and containers is simple.
Watering Using a Sprinkler
While it may appear convenient, using a sprinkler to water crops is not advised. Why? The main reason is that splashing water wets plants and spreads diseases. Also, overhead watering is inefficient and wastes water because of evaporation and runoff. It doesn’t water plants directly but waters everything within its range.
Watering Tomatoes Using Watering Can
Watering a tiny garden with a watering can is cheap. However, a watering can in a large garden doesn’t make sense because it involves a lot of running back and forth to fill it. You can also use a rain barrel to water a watering. Watering the soil near the plant’s base will avoid wetting the leaves.
Watering Tomatoes Using Hose and Watering Wand
For many people, this is the preferred way of irrigating tomato plants. However, hand-watering helps you monitor your plants for pests, illness, and other problems. A watering wand with a long handle makes it simple to water the soil rather than the plant.
Soaker Hose For In-Ground Tomatoes
Soaker hoses are a low-effort technique to irrigate tomatoes while also directing water where it’s needed. Soaker hoses wet the soil by dripping water down the hose length.
They resemble a typical garden hose but are composed of a porous substance that water plants slowly but thoroughly. As a result, none of the water is spilled on the foliage or wasted in the runoff because it is supplied to the root zone.
Drip Irrigation for Growing Tomato Plants
Water is delivered using hoses, tubes, and emitters in drip irrigation. Slow watering through drip irrigation, like soaker hoses, will water the base of a plant rather than the entire garden bed. As a result, it minimizes water waste over time. A drip irrigation system takes some time to set up, but once it’s done, it’s a simple and effective way to water slowly without the need to check continually. (Read Are Coffee Grounds Good For Tomato Plants)
Potted Tomato Plant Watering Tips
- Tomato plants require watering when the soil surface is dry, but not always when wet. The following factors influence how frequently a tomato plant requires water:
- To prevent soil from pouring out, line the bottom of the pot with a layer of coffee filters or weed block cloth.
- Mulch is a gardener’s secret weapon for promoting plant growth. It’s an organic layer that enhances soil quality, boosts water retention, and protects plants from excessive moisture loss.
- Regularly water the base of your tomato plant. They require water to grow, and it is better not to stress them out by over-watering or watering the tomato leaves, as this can spread diseases or scorch in the hot sun.
- Tomato plants require water daily, but the best time to water is in the morning. Photosynthesis begins here, and also they will absorb the water before it evaporates. Watering tomatoes at night leads to root rot or mold.