How to Water Tomato Plants in the Garden

Few plants are more popular in the vegetable garden than tomatoes. Learning how to water tomatoes is the key to success. These delicious treats are primarily composed of water, and they need it in proper measure to thrive. Here are some important things you should know about watering tomato plants.

How Often to Water Tomatoes

Tomato plants need a lot of water. That doesn't mean your plants can't be watered too much. Many individuals who home-grow tomatoes make the mistake of thinking watering the plants is as simple as keeping the soil soaked throughout the season. The truth is that there is a distinct art to watering for healthy growth.

Here's the simple answer: You should water your tomatoes only when they need it. How do you determine that? By checking the soil around the plant. You want the soil to be damp around the plant to a depth of 6" to 8". In most climates, this will mean watering once each day, but that can change depending on the amount of rainfall and the temperature in your location.

You need to regularly inspect the soil surrounding the plants to make sure it is moist enough to encourage root growth. Keeping the ground damp is much easier than trying to hydrate it after it has become dry. Start with once per day and keep notes. You'll soon determine how much water is required to maintain dampness at the appropriate depth.

How Much to Water Tomatoes

This is where science enters the equation. Some university studies indicate that most tomato plants need about an inch of water per week to thrive. It is possible to quantify this amount of water in terms of gallons, and some growers have done that with scientific formulas. About 1" to 1.5" of water is going to translate to between one-half gallon and a full gallon of water.

Here's the tricky part. You can't administer all that water in a single day. This will create standing water and run-off, which is no good for your plants. Hopefully, there will be some weeks when you get a little help from rainfall. Again, let the dampness of the soil around your plants be the common-sense guide.

Experience is going to be your best teacher. Pay attention to the measures you must take to maintain moisture. Make good notes. You should be able to refer to those notes year after year in the same climate.

When to Water Tomatoes

This part of effective tomato watering is fairly straightforward. The best time to water your tomatoes is early in the morning. This will allow any moisture that makes its way to the leaves an opportunity to dry before the heat of the day, and that can help to prevent diseases and burning of the plants.

You need the water you're administering to be efficiently used. Too much standing water and moisture on the plants themselves is going to create a host of problems. By watering early in the morning, you will create an efficient routine that works in tandem with the plant's natural biological functions.

Avoid watering in the evening at all costs. Once the temperatures drop and the water becomes cold, your plants will be exposed to health risks.

Methods of Watering Tomatoes

The manner in which you water tomato plants is also very important. You should always water the stem of the plant instead of the leaves and flowers. Water on leaves is a recipe for disaster.

Water needs to get to the root system of the plant. It will do that more efficiently when you water around the stem. This means using a hose of some type. A sprinkler will put too much water on the plant.

Not all hoses are created equal. One of the biggest issues with using a traditional water hose is that moving it around the garden can inadvertently damage plants. You will also have to move often since you are watering the stems. A more effective method is to use soaker hose irrigation.

A soaker hose system allows you to place the hose near the stems of your plants where it can remain without being moved. You can then adjust the flow of water from the soaker to water in a slow manner, giving the water plenty of time to penetrate the soil. Soaker hoses are by far the best way to water tomatoes.

When it comes to a great tomato garden, watering is more than half the battle. Get this part right, and you'll have a far better chance of harvesting some amazing fruits. With each passing season, your ability to grow these vegetable garden staples will increase exponentially.

All content provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. All use of products referenced in this article should be done in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more information on watering vegetables, read the following articles:

A Guide to Effective Lettuce Watering in Your Home Garden

Watering Your Vegetable Garden the Right Way—Top Tips

8 Tips for Watering and Growing Container Plants


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