Hydroponic Tomatoes - A Grower’s Guide

Hydroponic Tomatoes

 

Even though a lot of people consider tomatoes to be vegetables, they are technically a fruit. Regardless of what you call them, they are an extremely versatile savory food you can grow and enjoy all year round. Many people think that growing tomatoes is difficult even if you have a big garden with healthy soil, let alone through hydroponics. However, I am here to tell you that growing hydroponic tomatoes is not as difficult as it might seem. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know to grow hydroponic tomatoes, from choosing a hydroponic system to harvesting fresh, delicious tomatoes that you’ve grown yourself at home. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!

 

How to Grow Hydroponic Tomatoes

 

Best Hydroponic System for Tomatoes

While tomatoes can be grown in virtually any type of hydroponic system, they do best in ebb and flow, NFT, aeroponic, and drip systems, including Dutch bucket systems, which are a type of drip system. You can also grow tomatoes in a DWC system with a bit of work. We’ve covered how these different systems work and how you can build DIY hydroponic systems at home in our previous articles, which you can find here:

 

6 different types of hydroponic systems

NFT systems

Drip systems

Dutch bucket hydroponics

DWC systems

 

Choose Your Growing Medium

Your choice of growing medium will depend on the type of system you choose to go for; however, expanded clay pellets work pretty well with tomatoes. You can also use coconut coir, and you can mix it with perlite or vermiculite to increase moisture retention. If you’d like to learn more about different types of growing mediums, we have an article about that here.

 

Choose Your Nutrient Mix

There are specific nutrient mixes for tomatoes, and I would suggest going with that if you can find it. If you can’t find a nutrient mix made specifically for tomatoes, you can choose a low-nitrogen mix. I would highly recommend going for an organic nutrient mix, as you will be eating the tomatoes, and you don’t want your food growing with chemicals. If you’d like to learn more about hydroponic nutrients, we have a whole section dedicated to that topic here.

 

Hydroponic Tomatoes - System

 

Choose Your Grow Lights

If you’re growing indoors, you will need grow lights for your tomatoes. I would recommend going for LED grow lights because they are highly versatile and energy efficient. They are more expensive that other options, such as MH or HPS grow lights, but they don’t lose their effectiveness over time and will save you money on electricity bills. Full-spectrum or RGB LED grow lights can also be used during all stages of plant growth, unlike MH or HPS grow lights. If you’d like to learn more about grow lights, we have a whole section on our website dedicated to hydroponic grow lights here.

 

Support for Plants

Tomato plants need support to grow in most cases, so you will likely need a trellis. Many hydroponic growing kits have an incorporated trellis or a frame you can tie the tomato plants to. If your kit doesn’t have any support for plants or if you made a DIY hydroponic system, you can attach a trellis or even poles and sticks that you can tie your tomato plants to. Or you can keep the tomato plants low, either by choosing a short variety or by pruning the plants.

 

Start Tomatoes from Seed or Buy Seedlings

You can start tomatoes from seed, and while it takes a bit more effort that buying seedlings, it is much cheaper and gives you a much better choice of variety of tomatoes. You can find more information on starting hydroponic plants here.

 

Prepare the Nutrient Solution

The acidity and the electrical conductivity of the nutrient solution are the two key parameters in hydroponics. The best pH for tomatoes is between 6.0 and 6.5. The EC level for tomatoes should be between 2.0 and 5.0.

 

Maintain Proper Air and Water Temperature

Your tomatoes won’t grow well if the air or the nutrient solution temperature is too cold or too hot. The optimal air temperature for tomatoes during the day is 21–27ºC (70–80ºF) and during the night 17–18ºC (63–65ºF). You will need to have a proper ventilation system in your grow room to maintain the optimal temperatures for your tomatoes. Optimal hydroponic water temperature for tomatoes is between 20 and 22ºC (68–72ºF); however, you do not have to keep it within this range all the time. Just make sure it doesn’t go below 15ºC (60ºF) or above 27ºC (80ºF). We have articles on ventilation system for your grow room as well as maintaining the optimal temperature in your grow room and the optimal water temperature in your hydroponic systems. You can find the articles here:

 

Ventilation

Grow room temperature

Hydroponic water temperature

 

For more great content check out the Proponics YouTube channel below!

 

Proponics on YouTube

 

 

Max Bio Pic

By Max Barnes

Max Barnes is a long-time homesteader and author. Max grows the majority of his own food year-round using a variety of different methods, including hydroponics. Hydroponic gardening plays a huge part in his homestead and self-sufficiency goals.

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ProGro

Transform your home into a green oasis with the ProGro. This state-of-the-art smart garden utilises hydroponic technology that enables you to effortlessly grow unlimited fresh herbs and vegetables year-round, without soil or outdoor space. Perfect for culinary enthusiasts, health-conscious individuals, and environmentally-minded urbanites seeking a convenient way to enhance their diet and lifestyle.