Everyone loves to grow tomatoes in their summer garden, but by growing hydroponic tomatoes, you can enjoy these popular fruits year-round. Tomatoes are highly nutritious, range in variety, and bring color and flavor to that favorite dinner staple… salad.
Ripe juicy tomatoes… YUM!
Tomatoes are probably the most popular hydroponic vegetable and are usually very successful. Hydroponic tomatoes can ripen as much as 8 weeks earlier and produce more fruit than soil-planted plants.
They also have superior nutrition and appearance, tender skin, firm flesh, delightful aroma, and flavor, and surprisingly, they keep very well.
Tips For Growing Hydroponic Tomatoes
Proper growing conditions
Tomatoes can survive at 55-85 degrees but do best in the 70s, with an RH (humidity) of 40-50%. They can handle high temps on occasion, but prolonged 90+ degrees can damage them. And they will die if exposed to frost.
Tomatoes like lots of light.
Keep a constantly renewed batch of seedlings, plants, and harvest going for cycling and year-round production of delicious juicy tomatoes. Growing hydroponic tomatoes feeds your salad bowl year-round.
Full-grown tomato vines have a tremendous capacity for water and food, so watch your nutrient solution levels in the reservoir.
Tomatoes also require high levels of nutrient concentration, So mix your solution on the strong side, or test with an EC Meter.
Benefits for growing hydroponic tomatoes
So, why would you want to grow tomatoes hydroponically? Well, for one, you can grow them year-round, regardless of outdoor conditions. That’s a huge plus if you ask me: eating sweet, delicious tomatoes in the dead of winter is what dreams are made of.
On top of that, you can:
- you can grow tomatoes even if you don’t have garden space: all your need is an extra room in your home (you can use an extra bathroom or a basement). Hello, urban agriculture!
- save on water
- grow larger fruit
- try different tomato types
- deal with fewer pests (or even eliminate them completely)
- have fun learning something new 😉
Disadvantages of growing tomatoes hydroponically
As with everything, there are some drawbacks to growing hydroponic tomatoes (or any other vegetables for that matter):
- it’s more expensive if you are just starting out
- you might need to learn a different way to garden
- requires more time than regular gardening
Determinate VA indeterminate tomatoes
Ever wonder about those terms?
Determinate tomatoes only grow to a set predetermined size. The vine terminates in a flower cluster and the plant grows slowly once the fruit has set. Staking and pruning are not required. The patio variety of tomatoes are determinate.
For the indeterminate tomatoes, there is no predetermined maximum growth. Given the proper food and water, the vine can keep growing and producing more and more tomatoes. These are the vining tomato types and require a means of support and proper pruning for best results.
Best hydroponic tomato varieties to grow
Staking (vining) tomatoes:
Tomatoes (Bush or Patio):
Cherry tomatoes are delicious! They make for an attractive salad bowl and are perfect for hydroponic gardens.
Popular Heirloom Tomatoes:
Tomatoes do best if you prune them to a single stem supported by a string or trellis. Choose one main stem and train it up, eliminating other side stems and snapping off the “suckers” (shoots that sprout between the main stem and each leaf petiole: see the photo of suckers above).
Keeping the tomato plant nicely groomed and from getting too bushy helps the plant’s energy go towards forming fruits instead of all foliage.
It’s also a good idea to allow no more than 4-5 flowers on each truss (or cluster of flowers). Pruning of some of the fruits results in more uniform and robust tomatoes.
Remove yellowed leaves at the bottom to allow air movement. Once the fruits start ripening, you can even strip off the bottom leaves all the way up
to the ripening trusses.
More information on training and pruning vining crops here: Hydroponic Gardens.
With a gently oscillating fan going, chances are very good that you will not have to do any hand pollination. I have never had to lend a hand to my tomatoes in this process. But if you find the fruits are not setting, read the pollination page.
For a nice troubleshooting guide to your tomatoes, see these common tomato plant problems.
Best hydroponic systems for growing tomatoes
Create the ideal tomato garden with the Dutch “Bato” bucket top drip systems. Probably the best hydroponic method for growing prized tomatoes.
Or you can use the ebb and flow system.
And if you’re ready to go pro (so you can sell at garden markets or to restaurants), you can create a lucrative greenhouse complete with plumbing, timers, and reservoirs.
As you can see, it’s not hard to grow hydroponic tomatoes: you just need a few things and you’re good to go.