You can easily overwater your tomato plants, especially after they grow past the seedling stage. When tomatoes get too much water, their leaves turn yellow. After that, the fruit develops cracks and blossom-end rot. Overwatered tomatoes often have a watery flavor and mushy texture. The roots could even start to rot and kill off the entire plant. Aim to give your plants up to 2 inches (5 cm) of water per week. The soil should feel moist but not have puddles. Reduce watering frequency when it rains or if you notice any signs of overwatering.
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5 Signs That Your Tomatoes are Overwatered
When your tomato plants get too much water, they will show all the following signs.
- Yellow leaves
- Cracks on the fruit
- Blossom-end rot
- Watery, mushy taste
- Root rot
You must correct your watering habits when the leaves start looking poorly to ensure your tomato plant lives a full life. Otherwise, the fruit won’t develop the correct flavor and texture. Plus, the plant’s roots could rot and end up ruining your entire tomato harvest for the year.
Yellow leaves are usually the first sign of improper watering in your tomato plant. The leaves turn yellow due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients. Tomato plant roots simply cannot absorb what the plant needs from the soggy soil. This problem occurs fastest in poorly draining soils, like clay. However, all types of soil can become waterlogged due to extra water. Check how wet the soil feels before watering by sticking your finger about 2 inches (5 cm) into the soil. If it’s dry, you can water. If not, then hold off on watering for the time being.
Cracked fruit occurs as your tomato plant absorbs too much water at one time. As the water goes into the fruit, it expands faster than the skin can grow. Alternating dry and wet periods increase the likelihood of cracked fruit. The cracks encircle the tomatoes and leave the inner fruit exposed until it heals. The risk of diseases, mold, and pest infestation increases as a result.
Blossom-end rot happens most often when tomatoes regularly get too much water. The excess water washes calcium out of the soil. Plus, the waterlogged roots cannot absorb nutrients well, even if you add calcium-rich fertilizer. The bottom of your tomatoes will turn brown and mushy if the plant does not receive enough calcium. Then, the wounded tissue opens the doors for fungi and bacteria to make matters worse.
Another major sign of overwatering is bad-tasting tomatoes. The fruit cannot develop its signature fresh flavor if it’s always flush with excess water. Instead, your harvest will consist of watery-tasting fruit. Worse yet, the fruit often feels completely mushy and mealy. Other causes of mealy, mushy tomatoes include poor nutrient uptake and high temperatures, especially if grown in a hot climate.
Rotten Tomato Roots
Overly wet tomato plant roots will quickly end up rotting in the ground. Once that occurs, the plant is as good as dead. Without healthy roots, your tomato plant won’t get the water and nutrients needed to survive. You can potentially reverse the damage if you catch the rotten roots soon enough. You’ll need to pull your plants out of the waterlogged soil and replant them somewhere drier.
Overwatering can kill your plants and leave you without a great tomato harvest. So, do all you can to keep them on an ideal watering schedule. Adjust your approach if you notice any of the signs covered above.
How Often Should Tomatoes Be Watered?
Tomato plants prefer between 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) of water per week. In the seedling stage, you may need to water more often. Their small roots can only reach so far to collect moisture from the soil. Each plant grows a large taproot in about 30 days. You should water tomato plants less often once they reach this stage.
- Tomatoes thrive when given 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) of water per week.
- Seedlings need daily watering to help their small roots get enough moisture.
- As your plants develop their taproot (after 30 days), you can reduce watering frequency.
- Your local climate will determine how often to water your plants.
- Use your finger to check if the soil is dry 2 inches (5 cm) below the surface before watering.
The number of times you water each week depends on your climate. In rainy areas, you’ll water less. In hot climates, you may still want to water daily even after the taproot develops. Check the soil with your finger to decide when to water. Wait until the soil feels dry about 2 inches (5 cm) before you water your tomato plants.
How Wet Should the Soil Be for Tomato Plants?
Tomatoes grow best in soil that feels moist but not overly soggy. You should never water your plants to the point that you are flooding the soil. Puddles on the soil surface are a sign that you gave your plants too much water at one time.
- Your tomato plants’ soil should feel moist but not overly wet.
- Puddles should not form around the plants when giving them water.
- A well-draining soil makes it easier to give your tomato plants just enough moisture.
- Avoid growing your tomatoes in compact clay soil that does not drain well enough.
- Consider creating your own soil mix with compost, potting soil, and perlite.
Well-draining soil works best while trying to balance your tomato’s watering needs. Compact clay soils won’t drain fast enough to get water to the roots in a meaningful way. Stick with soil that has a mix of perlite, potting soil, and compost for the best results.
How Do You Know If You Overwatered Your Tomatoes?
Yellow leaves are the first sign that you overwatered your tomatoes. Other signs include cracked fruit, blossom-end rot, and watery, mushy fruits. Eventually, giving your plants too much water will cause the roots to rot and kill the plant.
- Yellow leaves are the first sign that you are overwatering your tomatoes.
- As the fruit sets, it could crack and develop blossom end rot if overwatered.
- Root rot is the last sign that your tomatoes get too much water each week.
- Aim for 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) of water to keep your tomatoes healthy and thriving.
- Expect firm, flavorful tomatoes when you dial in your watering efforts just right.
Take the time to perfect your watering techniques and you’ll get firm, flavorful tomatoes every time. Although it definitely takes some fine-tuning, it’s well worth the time and effort required.