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Mequoda Publishing Network

How—and When—to Water Your Tomato Plants

Watering a tomato plant at the base

Watering tomatoes is all about watering slowly and watering deeply. Going slow and easy is the best way to ensure effective watering techniques for tomatoes. If you don’t have the time or patience to do it yourself, consider a drip hose or some other drip-irrigation method that will deliver water slowly and deeply into the soil for your tomato plants.

How often you water your tomato plants depends on how hot it is and how often they receive water naturally from the rain. In the heat of the summer, your tomato plants need water once every two to three days—and that includes natural rain water. Once fruit has set and started growing, you can scale back watering to only once a week.

    • Tip: Dawn is the best time of day to water your tomato plants. Avoid watering during the hottest time of the day.

When watering tomato plants, direct the water straight to the soil and the roots. Don’t spray the plants from above. Spraying the plants from above can cause disease and pests to thrive on your plants. Also, watering tomato plants from above leads to premature water evaporation, unnecessarily wasting water. Using mulch can help keep water where the plants need it and also slow down evaporation.

Generally, 2 inches of water a week for plants in the ground is a good baseline—and more often for plants in containers or pots. But, there are lots of varying factors that determine the right amount of water and the frequency of watering, including plant size, temperature, amount of sunlight, etc. A water gauge or indicator plant, such as impatiens, can help you decide how often to water your tomato plants.

Rainwater is best for your garden plants. If possible for you to collect rainwater, your tomatoes will benefit from that!

Fresh-from-the-well water might be a bit too chilly—tomatoes don’t like cold water. Let well water sit for an hour until it warms up a bit before quenching the soil and satisfying your tomato plants.

If you’re using tap water, allow the water to settle for one to two hours before dispensing to allow the tap water’s added chlorine to evaporate before soaking your soil.

When you properly water your tomatoes, you’ll have healthy plants and a good harvest. Improper watering can lead to the following problems that you want to avoid:

  • Blossom-end rot
  • Stunted growth and root loss
  • Susceptibility to pests and disease
  • Reduced harvests and lesser-quality tomatoes

How often do you water your tomato plants? And what time of day do you water? Please tell us how you ensure that your tomato plants get the right amount of water.

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