How Often to Water Tomato Plants for Maximum Growth

how often to water tomato plants

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You can prevent plenty of problems with your tomato plant and increase fruit quality by giving it the right amount of water at the right stage of growth. Tomato plants need 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Consistency and method of delivery are both important, but your tomato plant also benefits from a little more or a little less during the growing season.

A number of factors and signs help you decide when and how much to water tomatoes. High temperatures, rainfall amounts, drying winds and even soil type all require adjustments to your watering schedule. Tomatoes respond best, though, to a regular schedule of hydration.

Here's what you need to know about watering tomatoes.

Signs Tomato Plants Need Water

Wilting is the one of the first indications your tomatoes are thirsty. It can also be a sign of overwatering so check soil moisture before watering.

  • Wilted or drooping leaves and stems
  • Leaves curl inward on themselves
  • The top 2 to 3 inches of soil is dusty or cracked
  • Growth slows or appears to stop
  • Bottom leaves turn yellow


High temperatures and windy weather can cause plants to look a little droopy in the heat of the day. If they perk back up when temperatures drop dehydration may not be the problem. Check for soil moisture before watering.

Frequency of Watering Tomatoes

Whether your growing tomatoes in pots, raised beds, or in the ground, water new tomato transplants daily to establish strong roots. Water deeply at soil level until moisture reaches to a depth of 8 inches.

Once tomato plants are actively growing, how often and how much water you need to provide depends on where your tomatoes are growing. When they start to ripen, continue your watering schedule but reduce the amount of water delivered. Too much water in ripening fruit causes blossom end rot and cracking.

Potted tomatoes or those grown in raised beds need water frequently, as often as once or twice daily. Soil quality and type used in potted plants and raised beds should be well-draining. Clay soils and those with heavy organic material hold moisture longer that loamy mixes.

Watering Potted Tomatoes

Potted tomato plants should be watered often enough to keep soil moist but never soggy. Pots dry out quickly so size and depth make a difference in saturation levels. Water plants daily at soil level and watch for water to be released through drainage holes. A mature tomato plant can use a gallon of water every day and may need to be hydrated twice in hot, dry conditions.

Watering Tomatoes in Raised Beds

Saturation levels improve in raised beds but is still limited by size and depth. A raised bed with a soil depth of minimum 8 inches works best for growing tomatoes and established plants should be watered deeply for 20 to 30 minutes three to four times per week. If you grow tomatoes in a shallower bed, check them daily to catch early signs of dehydration. It may be more effective to water more frequently for shorter periods of time. Soaker hoses work efficiently to deliver water directly to roots and can be set on timers.

Watering Tomatoes in Garden Beds

Tomatoes grown in the ground benefit from daily watering for the first week or ten days after transplant. Remember to water at soil level and, if soaker hose is not installed, use a gentle setting on your hose attachment or keep the flow steady from a watering can. Once roots are established, continue to water three to four times a week. Water for 30 minutes up to two hours with soaker hose depending on weather and soil conditions. A mature plant uses about a gallon of water every five days.

Tips for Watering Tomatoes

  • Check soil moisture at the first sign of wilt
  • Always water at soil level
  • Water deeply and slowly
  • Avoid wetting leaves and stems with overhead delivery
  • Water in the morning. Late afternoon is best for a second watering.
  • Use straw mulch to reduce evaporation and improve moisture retention
  • Water transplants daily for good root development
  • Reduce amount of water delivered but maintain frequency during ripening
  • Can you water tomato plants too much?

    Yes, you can overwater tomato plants. A dehydrated plant cannot be revived by applying more water than it can absorb. The best approach is a consistent regular watering schedule that fits your growing conditions.

  • What are the signs of overwatering tomato plants?

    The signs of an overwatered tomato plant are a wilted droopy appearance, yellow leaves and stems, bumps on leaves and leaf loss, cracked fruit, blossom end rot, and brown roots. Standing water at the base of your plants or mold on the soil surface are also indicators.

  • How much water do tomato plants need?

    How much water tomato plants needs depends on where they are grown. Potted and raised bed tomatoes need a gallon of water daily, although this can be a little more or less depending on the size and depth of the raised bed. Tomatoes grown in garden beds need a gallon of water every five days.