Are you acquainted with the art of adequately irrigating tomatoes? As diverse as the number of cultivators, so too are the opinions held. Some advocate for the morning, while others champion the evening. Certain voices insist on acclimatizing the plant to tepid water and urging the practice of hardening, while a compelling counterargument posits otherwise. Thus, a newcomer may easily be disoriented, uncertain of when to initiate the hydration process—immediately or after a week.

Allow me to impart this knowledge upon you: it is imperative to address these contentious queries comprehensively, presenting cogent reasoning supported by a plethora of substantiated evidence. Such is the intention of this article, wherein I shall provide an elucidation that leaves no room for doubt.

The best time to water

Every gardener is in unanimous agreement that the morning hours reign supreme for watering. Allow me to expound: I commence my watering ritual from 9 to 10 am, just as the sun begins its ascent, for in another hour or two, the garden shall be rendered inhospitable. By the time the midday heat arrives, the water shall have gracefully permeated the soil, quenching the roots’ thirst. This principle holds true for both open-ground and greenhouse watering endeavors.

In regions blessed with a warmer climate, gardeners may also opt for evening watering, precisely from 18 to 20 hours. During this time, the nocturnal hours shall eagerly absorb all bestowed moisture. In the case of greenhouse watering at the same interval, it is imperative to leave all doors and windows ajar, permitting a refreshing draft to course through the premises.

If the heavens are veiled in overcast skies, the plants shall remain unscathed by the sun’s scorching touch. Consequently, watering may be conducted at any time throughout the day.

Above all, it is crucial to refrain from watering tomatoes amidst the sweltering heat, lest delicate leaves fall victim to the scalding droplets of water.

For more on watering tomatoes, check out this article – How long to run soaker hose for tomatoes.

Frequency, timing, and amount of watering

How frequently and during which growth stages should one bestow the gift of water? On this query, divergence is oft encountered. Yet, a definitive response eludes us, for it hinges upon the composition of your soil and the prevailing climatic conditions.

Consider, for instance, loamy or chernozem soil, adept at retaining moisture, permitting the roots to luxuriate in its embrace. Conversely, sandy loam, with its rapid water infiltration, at times leaves the plant bereft of a chance to imbibe the passing moisture through its roots.

What perils befall in the absence of adequate moisture?

During the floral spectacle, the plant shall shed many of its blossoms, thereby diminishing our bountiful harvest.

Throughout the fruitful phase, tomatoes shall fail to plump with gusto, thus manifesting a diminutive stature.

In general, the growth of tomatoes can be demarcated into two distinct periods:

  • From the planting of seedlings to the onset of floral splendor;
  • From the advent of blossoms to the fruition of luscious fruits.

During these two phases, the plant’s water requisites diverge. The initial period demands 20-30% less water compared to the latter.

I ascertain the moisture needs of tomatoes through the outward demeanor of their leaves. When the uppermost foliage begins to droop ever so slightly, it is a signal to bestow hydration.

The quantity of water per plant varies in accordance with its dimensions and stage of development:

  • Low-growing specimens – 2–5 liters;
  • Towering guardians – 4–10 liters.

During the phase of growth and fruit maturation, a greater quantity of water is warranted than during the inception and culmination of development, when the tomatoes undergo their ripening and chromatic transformation.

Comfortable temperature

Is it imperative to subject the plants to hardening? Whilst they are in their tender infancy, the infusion of cool water poses no predicament. Why, you ask? It shall fortify the root system and bestow resilience upon the seedling, facilitating adaptation to the natural milieu. However, once fruits have come to fruition, the imposition of additional strain becomes unnecessary.

In such an instance, the juxtaposition of air and water temperatures shall evoke a defensive reaction within the realm of tomatoes, channeling their vigor not towards the growth and maturation of fruits, but towards their own survival.

A temperature range of 18-23 degrees Celsius proves agreeable to the delicate constitution of tomatoes, aligning harmoniously with the ambient warmth during their phase of growth and ripening.

The best method

On this matter, nearly all horticulturists are in complete agreement that the most optimal approach to watering is at the root. Although in nature, plants collect rainwater and dew through their leaves, tomatoes, in particular, prefer moist roots and dry foliage. The rationale behind this preference becomes apparent when considering the perils that abound with excessive sprinklings, such as phytophthora, powdery mildew, and spot rot.

What are the various methods available for watering tomatoes? I can envisage four fundamental techniques:

  • Flooding from a wellspring;
  • Root irrigation;
  • Trenching;
  • Drip irrigation.

Let us delve into each of these methods in greater detail.

Flooding, a venerable tradition passed down through the generations, entails creating a cavity beneath each bush and irrigating it using a watering can or hose. Drawbacks include the time-consuming nature of the process, inadequate water penetration to the roots, and potential harm to the root system. Moreover, if the water used for irrigation is warm and stagnant, cold water sourced from a well or tap may inflict stress upon the plants.

An improvised method involves employing an ordinary plastic bottle. This option suits those who seldom tend to their gardens. However, despite the simplicity and accessibility of the materials, such watering fails to adequately quench the plants’ thirst during scorching heat. Furthermore, in heavy soils, the bottle’s openings quickly become obstructed, and the overall appearance of the vegetable garden, in my view, becomes aesthetically unpleasing.

Trenching entails the creation of furrows through which water flows under pressure. A drawback of this method is that the initial surge of water can wash away the surface layer at the beginning of the furrow before it reaches the last bush. Additionally, given that tomato roots are not deeply established, they are susceptible to damage.

Drip irrigation, a method of uniform and automated water supply ensures a regular and modest supply of water directly to the root zone. This technology offers the advantage of minimizing water wastage on weeds and preventing moisture from settling on the foliage. Although this method may incur some expenses, it proves to be the most effective. One has the option to craft DIY devices or purchase ready-made ones.


In conclusion, the success of your tomato harvest is undeniably contingent upon your proficiency in properly irrigating them. Equally significant, however, is the prudent selection of varieties that exhibit not only high productivity but also resilience against diseases and adverse weather conditions.