One of the top gardening questions that are often asked is, “how often to water tomato plants?” Tomato plants are popular and easy crops gardeners of all experience enjoy growing.
But, as with growing anything, you can encounter problems that can lead to a bad harvest. One of those problems is knowing when to water your tomato plants and how often whilst they grow.
Tomato plants require regular daily watering that is increased during the summer months. This post will cover what to consider when watering tomato plants, the best times of the day, and what to do if you encounter problems with watering your tomato plants.
After reading, you will feel confident to ensure your tomato plants are not overwatered and have the right amount they need during different times of the year.
Considerations When Watering Tomato Plants
Generally speaking, there isn’t an easy, simple one-size-fits-all answer to how often to water tomato plants.
As a gardener, you need to take into account:
- The type of tomato plant
- Soil quality
- Whether they are planted in the ground or in a container
- The stage of growth your tomato plant is in.
For example, if you have planted tomatoes in containers, they will require more water due to the soil retaining less water in a container than that in the ground.
Another example is depending upon the stage of growth your tomatoes are in. If you have only just planted your tomato seeds, they will need less water than tomato plants that are in flower.
A general rule of thumb is to check the soil and your tomato plant’s leaves. If the leaves are wilting, your tomato plants are too dry. Similarly, with the soil, dip your fingers into the top layer of soil. If it feels dry, your tomato plants require watering.
How Much Water Does a Tomato Plant Need Per Day
Tomato plants require on average, 1-2 inches of water per week. This breaks down to watering twice per day during the peak summer months when temperatures are higher, and there is less rainfall.
During spring, your plants are settling into the ground, temperatures are cooler and there is more rainfall. So your tomato plants will require less watering per day, none if there has been rainfall.
If you water your tomato plants too often, the roots will rot, whereas not watering them enough will cause your leaves to wilt. Either way, your tomato plants will not provide an optimum yield of fruit.
When To Water Tomato Plants
Tomato plants are best watered early in the morning or later in the evening. This is to avoid the mid-day heat when the sun is the highest, and it’s hottest.
If watering your plants during the middle of the day, the water is more likely to evaporate before reaching the tomato plant’s roots.
Can You Overwater Tomato Plants
Yes, you can! Overwatering tomato plants leads to root rot that causes the roots to die back and turn ‘mushy’.
But don’t despair if you have overwatered your tomato plants, they may still be able to be saved. If some of the roots still appear healthy and firm, these can be carefully dug up and removed from the rotted roots.
Once separated and moved, carefully replant into fresh soil that offers good drainage and nutrients.
What Are The Signs Of Overwatered Tomato Plants
An overwatered tomato plant is a little more difficult to identify compared with one that needs more water.
If your tomato plant is overwatered, the fruit will often crack, and the stems will begin to turn yellow and wilt. The leaves will also generate blisters, bumps, or even fall off.
Another clear sign is the condition of your tomato plant’s roots. The roots on an overwatered tomato plant will be darker, mushy, and lack a sturdy structure. They will also be slimy to touch.
Can A Tomato Plant Recover From Overwatering
Most tomato plants will be able to recover from being overwatered. It is important to remove any excess water from around your tomato plants, perhaps from heavy rainfall.
If the damage only appears above the ground and hasn’t affected the roots, allow your tomato plants time to dry.
However, if the roots are damaged, you will need to remove any roots that cannot be saved and dispose of them. The remaining roots and plants will require replanting in an area with excellent drainage. Consider using a container to help your tomato plants recover as the drainage is better in containers compared with ground soil.
What Are The Signs Of Underwatered Tomato Plants
If your tomato plants aren’t getting enough water, the leaves will be dry and wilt. Instead of your leaves turning yellow as they wilt when they are overwatered, underwatered leaves curl and turn brown.
Many gardeners have experienced dry tomato plants in the summer months when the weather is often hotter and dryer. To overcome this, they will water their plants twice a day and check the condition of the leaves every few days, and adjust their watering frequency as needed.
What Is The Best Way To Water Tomatoes
Watering tomato plants should be done slowly and carefully. Tomato plants require watering at the base of the plant so that the water can reach the roots directly. This helps your tomato plants to absorb the water it needs whilst allowing excess water the drain away.
Try to avoid watering the leaves as this can lead to diseases and mold.
When watering the base of your tomato plants, try to do so as gently as possible. Watering with a heavy flow can damage the roots, and stem, and disperse the soil supporting your tomato roots.
If possible, create a funnel in the ground directly above your tomato plant’s roots and use a drip hose. This will help to direct water to the roots whilst ensuring they are not watered with too high a pressure.
When watering your tomato plants, make sure to:
- Only water the roots
- Change the amount of water you provide depending upon the season and rainfall
- Water in the morning and evening only
- Check for signs of over or under watered tomato plants
- Adjust your watering frequency accordingly.
Following these top tips, you will be able to provide the correct amount of water your tomato plants need throughout their growing season. Knowing how often to water tomato plants and the right amount will lead to a bountiful supply of tomatoes to harvest.
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