Tomatoes are one of the most rewarding crops to grow. Not only are homegrown tomatoes so much juicier and tastier than store-bought alternatives, but they’re packed with more nutrients too.
However, not everyone has the outdoor space to grow their own tomato plants, which is where hydroponic tomatoes can be a huge game-changer.
Tomatoes have specific growing requirements that need to be met in order for the plants to be fully productive.
Achieving these hydroponically can sometimes be easier than when growing tomatoes in soil, as hydroponic systems give you full control over growing conditions.
Tomatoes need plenty of light, making grow lights a must when growing tomatoes hydroponically. Light has a direct impact on how well your tomato plants grow, as well as how much fruit they produce.
The minimum amount of light required is 8 to 10 hours a day. However, for optimum fruiting, aim for closer to 16 hours of light a day.
Don’t be tempted to provide more than this. Tomato plants need about 8 hours of darkness each night in order to properly grow.
Tomatoes love the warmth. Daytime temperatures between 65-80°F, followed by nighttime temperatures around 55°F, are perfect.
If the temperature drops too low, your tomato plants will think that winter is approaching. This will stimulate them to stop producing new fruits.
On the other hand, temperatures that are too high will kill your tomato plants, making it important to stick to optimum temperature levels.
A grow tent is useful for growing tomatoes hydroponically, especially in a home environment. This gives you full control over your growing environment, allowing you to accurately meet growing conditions, not only in terms of temperature but also light and humidity.
There are a few different growing mediums that work well with hydroponic tomatoes. Ideally, pick one that not only supports your tomatoes, but is also suited to your specific hydroponic system.
Some of the best options are:
Tomatoes need different nutrients at various growing stages, meaning that you will need to adjust the nutrient solution that you feed them in order to adhere to this.
The most important macronutrients that tomatoes need are:
Micronutrients are vital too, but the macronutrients are what your plants will absorb in the largest quantities.
Keep in mind that young plants don’t need as much calcium and potassium – the other nutrients are more important for initial growth.
However, once your tomato plants begin to produce fruit, they will need increased amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and calcium.
With all hydroponic solutions, a pH of between 5.5 and 6.5 is usually ideal. At this level, the nutrients are easily absorbed by the water, where they can then be delivered to your tomato plants.
When it comes to tomatoes in particular, the plants do best in a slightly acidic environment. Try to aim for a pH of around 6 for your tomatoes.
Here is a guide to grow wonderful and sweetest cherry tomatoes using hydroponics:
Tomatoes are quite adaptable when it comes to hydroponic systems – you can use a number of different systems to grow your plants.
However, keep in mind that tomatoes are heavy feeders.
This can make them difficult to grow in a passive system. Unlike with other plants grown in a passive system that can just be left to do their thing, the pH of your nutrient solution will need to be constantly monitored and adjusted.
Recirculating systems will also need a bit more vigilance too.
Once your plants begin to produce fruit, they’ll start absorbing large quantities of potassium and certain micronutrients. This will quickly throw off the pH level of a recirculating nutrient solution.
If you don’t stay on top of adjusting this back to optimum levels, your tomato plants will end up with nutrient deficiencies that will affect your harvest.
Some of the best types of hydroponic systems for growing tomatoes are:
Ready to start shopping? Here are some of the best hydroponic systems available for tomatoes:
The Big Smart Hydroponics Growing System is designed for plants that need to grow up supports or trellises, making it perfect for tomatoes. The climbing trellis is included with the system, and while assembling everything together can take a while due to how many different pieces there are, the process is pretty simple.
Each set comes with 3 growing basins. Each basin has three growing containers with four holes, meaning that you could grow a maximum of 36 plants in it. Of course, with tomatoes being quite large, this number is reduced, but still enables you to grow multiple plants.
Since the 3 basins are connected, you don’t need to fill each one individually with your nutrient solution, saving you time.
- The system is dual-powered – you can either plug it into a home power supply, or hook it up to a solar panel, making it extremely eco-friendly
- Has a smart control unit with a built-in temperature sensor
- Comes with a spare pump
- Setup can take a while, but there is a video that you can follow to help with this
- Instructions on how to grow hydroponically aren’t included, so you would need to have some knowledge of this already
Deep water culture systems are great for growing tomatoes, and that’s exactly what the Hydrofarm RS5GAL8SYS Root Spa offers.
The 5 gallon buckets may seem small at first, but tomatoes can thrive in containers this size, especially when grown hydroponically.
The included air pump keeps your nutrient solution aerated. This means that, unlike with other systems, you won’t need to purchase additional air stones.
- Quick and easy to set up
- Affordably priced, especially compared to other hydroponic systems
- Rubber seals ensure that there are no leaks
- The pump is a little weak. It works adequately, but you may want to replace it with a pump that’s more powerful
- The buckets need to be manually emptied in order to replace their nutrient solution, which can be quite tricky when you’ve got mature tomato plants growing in them
Being only 6 inches deep, the Freehawk Hydroponic System Growing Kit isn’t big enough for large tomato plants, but is perfect for dwarf and bush varieties.
It works as a DWC system, and its simplicity makes it ideal for beginners who are new to hydroponics.
There are 6 holes in the lid for growing plants in, but these are designed for light feeding plants. When growing tomatoes in this system, you will only be able to fit 1 or 2 plants in the container.
- This system is small and compact, making it perfect for those who don’t have much space
- The system is very affordable for those who are just getting started with hydroponics
- Although it comes with a pump and an air stone, these aren’t great quality. Your tomatoes will do better if you swap these for more powerful alternatives
- The light color of the nutrient reservoir can encourage algae growth – spray the outside of this with black paint to prevent light from penetrating through. Spraying the interior with a non-toxic white paint will also help to reflect light and keep heat in
Drip irrigation is great for large tomato plants. With this drip system, you’ll be able to grow each plant in its own container, while adjusting the amount of water and nutrients each one receives.
This drip system doesn’t come with pots, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This gives you the flexibility of being able to use your own pots, meaning that you have full control over their size.
The included water pump is designed to clip onto the side of a bucket. Again, this leaves it up to you when it comes to the size of bucket you use, making this system adaptable for scaling up.
- This drip system can be powered by a USB cable, but it also has batteries as a backup power source, should your USB source ever fail
- Programming this system is extremely simple and straight forward
- It has a powerful flow rate at 500ml/minute. This means that you won’t need to run the pump too many times each day
- Although this drip system comes with its own drip emitters, these are quite flimsy in quality. Fortunately, they can be easily switched out for any 1/4 inch drip emitters
- It’s difficult to tell whether or not the system is working. You need to wait for the pump to automatically turn on and water to be sent to your plants in order to tell. However, if your pump only runs for a few seconds each time, this can be tricky
If you’re looking for a hydroponic system that not only functions well, but also looks good, then the Miracle-Gro Twelve Indoor Growing System Side Table is what you need.
This system is designed to look like an elegant side table that would fit in well with any home decor. However, it also contains a full hydroponic growing system, complete with a grow light, so that you can grow your plants underneath the table.
This does put a limit on plant size, making it only suitable for smaller tomato plants. However, it works well and comes with some handy extras, including a seed starting kit and packets of plant nutrition.
- Can be used for the full growing process, from starting your tomato seeds to harvesting your mature tomato plants
- This system can be connected to your phone, along with a corresponding app, by bluetooth. This makes it so easy to control remotely
- The table itself is strong and sturdy, and can be used just like any other side table in your home
- Due to the table design, this system can be tricky to clean out after each harvest
- The grow light combined with the noise of the pump can make this system annoying to have in rooms that you spend a large amount of time in
- The fact that plants grow at ground level means that this system isn’t suitable for those who have pets who may sample or damage the plants within
Since tomatoes are heavy feeders, it’s not always easy to find a hydroponic system that’s suitable for them.
However, while some systems may look too small for hydroponic tomatoes, they will work just fine so long as you consistently maintain your nutrient solution, allowing you to easily grow your own fresh tomatoes from the comfort of your home.
Last update on 2020-12-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API