How to Grow Hydroponic Tomatoes

In every market stall, grocery, restaurant, or home you visit, one food item that you will always find on the shelves is tomatoes. Growing tomatoes dates back to the 17th century, and the practice keeps getting better with different varieties of the crop gracing gardens worldwide. The tomato, which is both a vegetable and a fruit, grows well both indoors and outdoors.

Growing the crop outdoors on soil media has its disadvantages, especially during the cold winter months. Tomatoes do not do well in the cold due to frost and other unfavorable weather conditions. However, growing them hydroponically will ensure a constant supply of tomatoes all year round. Growing tomatoes hydroponically is one of the most favorable and reliable gardening methods that comes with immense benefits.

In this article, we take you through the journey of everything you need to know about hydroponic tomatoes which includes how to grow them, different varieties and the best hydroponic growing systems in the market today.

Before touching on how to grow hydroponic tomatoes, here is a brief explanation of what hydroponics is for those that are not familiar with the gardening method.

So, What Is Hydroponics?

What Is Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a style of gardening that does not use soil as a growing medium. Growing crops hydroponically involves applying a concentrated nutrient solution directly to the roots of the plants. You can use inert media such as clay pebbles or coco to anchor the roots during the growth process. The different types of hydroponic methods are ebb and flow, deep water culture (DWC), Hydroponic dip, aeroponics, and nutrient film technique.

How to Grow Hydroponic Tomatoes

How to Grow Hydroponic Tomatoes

Hydroponic tomatoes are healthy and vibrant crops, and growing them is not as hard as some people think. Hydroponic tomatoes gardening allow you to do it indoors with the help of grow lights; in greenhouses, or outdoors. Though hydroponic tomatoes may require more attention and costs than growing the same in a soil medium, the results are worth the patience. Let us get down to what you need for your hydroponic tomatoes gardening process.

Where To Begin

Seeds

tomatoes-seeds

Whether growing hydroponically or in the soil, each plant starts its growth process from seeds or saplings. Hydroponic tomatoes are not different. However, hydroponic gardening does better with saplings than it does with seeds. It does not mean that you cannot grow the tomatoes from seeds, but they take longer to germinate than saplings do.

To germinate the saplings or seeds, you will need a pH test kit, Rockwool, and a tray. Germinate the sapling on the tray with a mixture of water that has a pH of 4.5 and Rockwool. After the seeds germinate, transfer the seedlings to your hydroponic method of growing.

Hydroponic Tomato Varieties

Hydroponic Tomato Varieties

Selecting the best hydroponic tomato varieties is not an easy process especially for first time hydroponic tomato gardeners, considering that there are many different types to choose. All tomato varieties are vine plants that come as either determinate or indeterminate. Determinate varieties are bushy and sprawl along the ground, indeterminate grow vertically and need support and pruning. Hydroponic tomato growers prefer the determinate variety because they grow up to a set height of between two and four feet.

Some of the most popular hydroponic tomato varieties are-

  • Hybrid types such as Trust, which is a favorite with many people because of its resistant to mold and root rot, Giant Beefsteak, and Daniela that comes with a long shelf life.
  • Open-pollinated or Heirloom varieties such as moskvich, and Thessaloniki
  • Specialty varieties that include Plum and Italian varieties such as San Marzano, Azafram, and Fresh Paste, olive, pear, currant, and grape-shaped small-fruited tomatoes, and sun gold.
  • Cocktail miniature and cherry varieties of cherita, flavorita, sweet 100, and gardeners delight are also great hydroponic tomatoes.

Tomato Light

Tomato grow Light

Light affects the quality and size of tomatoes, which is why they thrive better during summer than they do during the cold winter seasons. Tomatoes need at least 8 to 10 hours of lighting each day for a high level of photosynthesis to take place. Some of the more significant yielding varieties need even up to 18 hours of light each day.

Once they reach maturity, tomatoes need respiration, which they get from eight hours of darkness. If you want to maximize fruit production, you should ensure that you give the tomatoes at least 16 hours of light each day. The best light outputs for tomatoes are metal halides. LEDs and CFLs are also good options though they do not provide the same output as metal halides do.

Bestseller No. 1
iPower GLBULBM600 600W Grow Light Bulb Metal Halide MH Lamp for Plants High PAR Enhanced Blue and Violet Spectrums CCT 6000K
  • High lumen output: 60,000 lumens output, compatible with electronic and magnetic ballast, E39 base
  • Special designed for plant growth: CCT 6000K, 600 watt, enhanced blue & violet spectrum and high PAR (photosynthetic active radiation) to stimulate vegetative growth. Ideal for rapid growth phase of plants. Greatly accelerates flowers and fruits growth
  • Extra-low lumen depreciation: maintaining over 90% of initial lumen output after running for 5,000 hours
  • Exceptional bulb life: 12,000 hours. New long lasting life with a high lumen output and low energy consumption
  • Note: allow 3-5 minutes for full bright. Please wait at least 5 minutes after power shut off before striking again
Bestseller No. 2
iPower GLBULBM1000 1000 Watt Vegetative Metal Halide MH Conversion Grow Light Bulb Lamp High PAR Enhanced Blue and Violet Spectrums CCT 6000K, 1000W, Glass
  • iPower 1000 watt MH bulb compatible with electronic and magnetic ballasts, 92, 000 lumens
  • 6, 000K blue & violet spectrum and high PAR (photosynthetic active radiation) to stimulate vegetative growth. Ideal for rapid growth phase of plants. Greatly accelerates flowers and fruit growth
  • Extra-low lumen depreciation: maintaining over 90% of initial lumen output after running for 5,000 hours
  • Startup time: allow 3-5 mins for full bright. Please wait at least 5 mins after power shut off before striking again
  • Long bulb life: 12, 000 hours. New long lasting life with a high lumen output and low energy consumption
Bestseller No. 3
Metal Halide Grow Light Bulb - Protopia MH400WT46 MH 400 Watt Growing Lights, for Indoor Plants, 6000K, 36000Lumens, Great for Commercial Applications
  • MIMICS SPRING TIME LIGHT, promoting short internomal spacing and lush growth
  • GREAT FOR COMMERICAL APPLICATIONS where a large vegetative footprint is required
  • HIGH QUALITY QUARTZ GLASS for consistent spectral output and PAR production
  • Color Temp: 6000K, Luminous Flux (LM): 36000, CRI:70, Initial PAR: 500μmol/s, Base: E39, Pulse start capable,LONG LIFETIME: 10000hours lifespan with 1 year warranty
  • Allow 3-5 mins for full bright, wait at least 5 min after power shut off before striking again
Bestseller No. 4
iPower 600W Metal Halide Grow Light Bulb, CCT 6000K 60000 LM, MH Conversion Lamp-Enhanced Blue and Violet Spectrums, 1 Pack
75 Reviews on Amazon
iPower 600W Metal Halide Grow Light Bulb, CCT 6000K 60000 LM, MH Conversion Lamp-Enhanced Blue and Violet Spectrums, 1 Pack
  • High lumen output: 60,000 lumens output, compatible with electronic and magnetic ballast, E39 base
  • Extra-low lumen depreciation: Maintaining over 90% of initial lumen output after running for 5,000 hours. Ideal for rapid growth phase of plants, greatly accelerates flowers and fruits growth
  • Special designed for plant growth: CCT 6, 000K, enhanced blue & violet spectrum and high PAR (photosynthetic active radiation) to stimulate vegetative growth
  • Exceptional bulb life: 12, 000 hours. The bulb can be used with reflectors to promote plant growth and germination
  • Notice: Allow 3-5 minutes for full bright. Please wait at least 5 minutes after power shut off before striking again
Bestseller No. 5
Sun System Flower Power 315 Watt Grow Light 120/240 Volt - ETL Listed for LEC Or Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) Lamps - Fixture Only No Lamp, White
  • Highly reflective textured aluminum insert for excellent output, uniformity and diffusion.
  • Compact unit has a low profile making it great for small spaces such as tents as well as larger growing areas.
  • Dual power inputs easily switch voltage from 120 to 240 volt power.
  • power source type: Corded Electric

Temperatures

Tomatoes are warm-weather crops, and they thrive better in day temperatures ranging from 65 to 77 or 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. During the night, tomatoes thrive well in lower temperatures of between 12 and 18 degrees Celsius. Temperatures higher than 90 degrees F or lower than 50 degrees F are not ideal for the healthy growth of tomatoes.

Hydroponic tomatoes growing in grow tents thrive because it is easier to control the temperatures here than it is to control the same in other places such as outdoors, where you have to deal with other environmental issues.

Nutrient, pH, and EC Requirements 

Tomato nutrients

Tomatoes require high levels of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and different elements of nutrients for high quality and high yields. You can choose to buy two-part nutrient mixtures designed explicitly for hydroponic tomatoes from some of the top brands, or mix your plant nutrients. They thrive well in above the average pH levels.

The best pH for hydroponic tomatoes is between 5.8 and 6.3. The correct mix of nutrients also provides adequate EC levels for tomatoes. Levels of between 2.0 and 3.5 milliMhos are good enough for hydroponic tomatoes. If by any chance, your tomatoes do not receive adequate nutrients EC or pH, the plants will display yellowing of leaves, curled leaf tips, red stems, and early falling of flowers.

-$1.36 SALE OFFBestseller No. 1
Jobe's, Fertilizer Spikes, Vegetable and Tomato, 18 Count
8,615 Reviews on Amazon
Jobe's, Fertilizer Spikes, Vegetable and Tomato, 18 Count
  • Pre-measured fertilizer spikes nourishes at the roots; time release fertilizer spikes for tomatoes
  • Easy to use fertilizer spikes; no wasteful runoff, no mess, hazards or smells
  • Continuous supply of nutrients below the surface, where the active roots are growing
  • Jobe s spikes feeds for 8 weeks; continuous nourishment for robust Tomato plants
  • fertilizer Analysis: (6-18-6) 18 Spikes in waterproof resealable package
-$2.99 SALE OFFBestseller No. 2
Miracle-Gro 2000422 Plant Food, 1.5-Pound (Tomato Fertilizer), 1.5 lb
6,801 Reviews on Amazon
Miracle-Gro 2000422 Plant Food, 1.5-Pound (Tomato Fertilizer), 1.5 lb
  • Instantly feeds to grow bigger, more bountiful vegetables versus. unfed plants
  • Feed every 1-2 weeks
  • Great for tomatoes and vegetables
  • Use with Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder or any watering can
  • Safe for all plants, guaranteed not to burn when used as directed
-$5.36 SALE OFFBestseller No. 3
Espoma Organic Tomato-Tone 3-4-6 with 8% Calcium. Organic Fertilizer for All Types of Tomatoes and Vegetables. Promotes Flower and Fruit Production. 4 lb. Bag - Pack of 2
  • FOR USE ON: Use Tomato-tone organic fertilizer for all types of tomatoes; both heirloom and hybrid. It Produces plump, abundant tomatoes, not unwanted foliage. Can also be used on all vegetables.
  • CONTAINS: Tomato-tone is a rich blend of the finest natural & organic ingredients enhanced with our exclusive Bio-tone formula; 3-4-6 Fertilizer analysis with 8% calcium to help prevent blossom end rot. Tomato-tone is environmentally Safe - No sludges or toxic ingredients.
  • WHEN / HOW TO USE: Best to use Tomato-tone fertilizer every two weeks through the growing season. Apply to the soil around the drip line of the plant and then water thoroughly. Tomato-tone is ready to use and requires no mixing.
  • FOR ORGANIC GARDENING: Tomato-tone is approved for organic gardening; It is a registered Organic Input Material meaning it meets all requirements for organic production.
  • MADE IN THE USA: Product of the Espoma Company. The leader in natural organics since 1929
Bestseller No. 4
Miracle-Gro Shake 'N Feed Tomato, Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food, Plant Fertilizer, 4.5 lbs.
7,903 Reviews on Amazon
Miracle-Gro Shake 'N Feed Tomato, Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food, Plant Fertilizer, 4.5 lbs.
  • Contains natural ingredients to feed microbes in the soil
  • Specially formulated with micronutrients to help plants grow strong and produce more fruits and vegetables versus unfed plants
  • Feeds up to 3 months
  • Calcium helps form stronger cell walls, producing better quality and longer-lasting fruits and vegetables. Plus, it helps prevent disorders in edible crops commonly associated with calcium deficiency.
  • For use in ground and in containers
-$2.00 SALE OFFBestseller No. 5
JR Peters 51324 Jack's Classic 12-15-30 Tomato Feed, 1.5 lb.
  • Optimum Combination Of Nutrients For Fruiting Vine Vegetables
  • High Potassium Assures A Good Crop
  • Produces Vibrant Green Leaves, Strong Vines And More Fruit
  • No Assembly Required

Growing Media

The right growing medium helps to deliver high yields of tomatoes. Hydroponic tomato growing provides you with several techniques to choose from if you want to maximize the yields. Some of the most popular hydroponics tomatoes gardening techniques are coco coir, DWC, NFT, clay pellets, drip systems, Rockwool, and perlite.

Best Hydroponic Systems for Tomatoes

Hydroponic tomatoes do well with different hydroponic systems. When using any of the techniques, you need to take into account that tomatoes are heavy feeders and require high maintenance levels. In their fruiting stage, tomatoes use large amounts of micronutrients and potassium, which means if you use a recirculating method, you may end up altering the pH levels.

Even if you decide to use the more friendly passive growing systems, you still need to monitor water levels closely for proper maintenance of pH levels, failure to which you will have to deal with deficiencies. The best hydroponic systems for tomatoes are:

Nutrient Film Technique

Nutrient Film Technique

Nutrient film technique or NFT is a simple and effective hydroponic growing technique that uses a water pump to provide the tomatoes with nutrients, the system has two main components, which are the reservoir and a grow tray. The grow tray has net pots that contain the grow media such as Rockwool that helps to hold the roots and preserve the nutrients.

A pump from the water reservoir delivers a nutrient solution to the grow tray, and it comes with a drainage pipe for recycling any solution of unused water nutrient. The size of the reservoir depends on the number of tomatoes that you intend to grow. If you are growing 40 to 50 hydroponic tomatoes, you need a 5-gallon capacity reservoir. It also comes with an easy setup, which is friendly even for first-time gardeners.

Deep Flow Technique

Deep Flow Technique

Deep flow technique (DFT) is another hydroponic tomatoes growing method popular with many growers. The method is very similar to NFT except for the deeper trays, and the method does not rely on a water pump to relay nutrients to the roots. The method uses Styrofoam boards that suspend the plants so they can float on the surface.

DFT trays hold more water, which helps to keep the tomatoes alive without the need of a pump. The system uses aerated water to prevent drowning of the plants.

Drip System

Tomato Drip System

The hydroponic drip system is another popular growing technique that feeds the plants with water and nutrients using a pump. The drip system’s emitters supply nutrient solutions to the tomato roots directly. The system helps to conserve water, making it one of the best choices for commercial hydroponic tomato growers.

Ebb-and-Flow

Ebb-and-Flow tomatoes

Ebb and flow or flood and drain method, is one of the most common hydroponic tomatoes growing techniques. The essential components of the technique are a reservoir, a flood tray, a tier, and a submersible pump. The flood tray is a shallow container that you use to place perforated pots that contain your tomato seedlings. Ensure that they are two times deeper than the flood tray to allow the roots to get enough nutrients.

The nutrient-rich solution flows from the reservoir through the bottom of the perforated pots to the tomato roots. Water then drains out, allowing the riots to dry and oxygenate before the subsequent flooding round. The reservoir connects to the tray through a fill and drains tube. The submersible pump comes with a timer that helps you to customize the frequency of watering your tomatoes. The method is daunting for new time growers, but gardeners with experience prefer it to many other growing techniques.

Best Article About Hydroponic On 09- 2022

Our Top Picks Of The Best Hydroponic Tomatoes Growing Products

1. Abbaponics 4 Site Hydroponic DWC Bucket System

4 Site Hydroponic DWC Bucket System - Complete Grow Kit!

The Abbaponics 4 site grow kit is a reliable DWC system that comes with versatility and other great features. You can cultivate up to four different crops using the same air pump with the system. It comes with precious nutrients that provide crops with optimal health and growth. On purchase, you also get a bloom mix that provides the tomato plants with more health during the flowering stage.

Other things that you get with the kit include clay pebbles that also add to the strength and faster growth of the tomatoes. The eco-friendly system also comes with an excellent drainage system that helps to prevent root rot.

2. General Hydroponics Waterfarm Complete Hydroponics System Grow Kit/GH4120

General Hydroponics Waterfarm Complete Hydroponic System Grow Kit | GH4120

The GH4120 is one of general hydroponics bestselling hydroponic drip system. The system allows you to grow large, medium, and small tomatoes with ease, and it comes with everything you need to start gardening immediately. It is ideal for beginners and one of the easiest to use in the market. It comes with one large bucket and a smaller one with side pipe that shows the water level. Besides that, it also comes with a growing media, pump, and necessary nutrients. The buckers are sturdy and durable, and the rate is affordable.

3. ShungRu Smart Indoor Garden Kit

Hydroponics Growing System, 8 Pods Indoor Hydroponic Garden with Grow Light, Automatic Timer Germination Kit Functions as Desk Lamp

The ShungRu kit is a fantastic gardening kit that also doubles up as a reading lamp. The 2-in-1 gardening kit features a full spectrum light with red and blue LEDs that provide your hydroponic tomatoes with light that micks that from the sun. It also comes with white LEDs that come with three customizable levels. The lights come in a 360-degree adjustable arm that you can adjust to use as your reading lamp. Other useful features that the beautiful gardening kit comes with include a reservoir that can hold water for between two and three weeks and automatic watering and lighting functions. It is easy to use and provides you with value for money.

How to Build a Simple Hydroponic Dutch Bucket System

dutch-bucket-systems-builds

The Dutch bucket system is one of the simplest hydroponic gardening methods that comes with an easy setup and inexpensive rates. The system is especially favorable for hydroponic tomatoes, and you can use it either indoors or outdoors. If you decide to use the system indoors, ensure that your tomatoes get enough lighting. The buckets use the drip system with two buckets inside each other, and a pump to provide the crops with a nutrient solution from a reservoir.

What you need

  • Buckets
  • Table
  • Pump
  • Reservoir
  • Growing media such as vermiculite, perlite, peat, expanded clay pellets, or coco coir
  • Drippers
  • Tubings
  • Clamps
  • Fittings

The buckets you choose to start with will depend on the number of tomatoes you intend to plant. Two buckets hold one plant, with the outer one being for the overflow, while the inner smaller one holds the growing medium and the plant.

Method

  1. Cut PVC to the length of the table based on the number of buckets you intend to use. Remember to leave space for elbow and end cap on the end.
  2. Place your Dutch buckets on the table and mark places for the drains. Using a drill, make 1-inch holes on the markings
  3. Attach the elbow and end cap using primer and PVC cement ensuring that the holes face upwards while elbow faces downwards
  4. Attach zip ties to hold the PVC in place by drilling holes on the table on the side of the PVC
  5. You can choose to use conduit clamping instead of zip ties. Run the tubing over the buckets along the middle line and fasten it in place using clamps or clips.
  6. Drill holes for emitters through the tubing
  7. Add a release valve for draining the reservoir and flushing at the end of the irrigation line
  8. Cut strips of the tubing and attach them to the emitters to allow centering of the irrigation to the plants
  9. Attach the pump and tubing end with a clamp and put it in the reservoir
  10. Test the system ensuring that each emitter works without any possible leaks
  11. Start planting your tomatoes in the growing medium

Ensure that the submersible pump is under the reservoir for more comfortable pumping of nutrients into the irrigation line to get to the roots through the emitters. The elbow on each bucket helps to drain any excess nutrient solution by returning it to the irrigation line before it goes back to the reservoir. The returning of excess nutrient solution to the reservoir makes the

Dutch bucket hydroponic system a cost-effective gardening method. If you do not want the nutrient solution to drain back to the reservoir, you can modify the setup to allow the waste to drain out. You can also add a digital timer that helps to set intervals for the watering cycle. Remember to clean the buckets in between planting session to prevent fungal and bacterial problems with the next round of crops.

Bestseller No. 1
Dutch Bucket, 11 Liter, with Siphon Elbows, Hydroponic, 12' x 10' x 9' - 10 Pack
18 Reviews on Amazon
Dutch Bucket, 11 Liter, with Siphon Elbows, Hydroponic, 12" x 10" x 9" - 10 Pack
  • Black Dutch Bato Bucket with Siphon elbows
  • Perfect for hydroponics, aquaponics, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and larger plants
  • Easily joined together, these systems can be scaled to any size imaginable, and are one of the most reliable and easily controlled growing methods
  • Made from food grade UV resistant plastic
  • 11 liter capacity / dimensions: 12" L x 10" W x 9" H
Bestseller No. 2
Dutch Bucket, with Lid, 4' Net Pot and Siphon Elbows, Hydroponic, 11L, 12' x 10' x 9', Black - 10 Pack
14 Reviews on Amazon
Bestseller No. 3
Rubber Grommets Water Seal Hydroponics Dutch Bucket for use with 1/2' SCH 40 PVC Pipe, 1' drilled Hole - Pack of 10
37 Reviews on Amazon
Rubber Grommets Water Seal Hydroponics Dutch Bucket for use with 1/2" SCH 40 PVC Pipe, 1" drilled Hole - Pack of 10
  • Grommets for making a water-tight seal for use in hydroponic setups and Dutch bucket growing systems, among other applications.
  • Make a water-tight seal with low cost 1/2" PVC pipe (known as Schedule 40 PVC pipe) sold at virtually all hardware stores in the USA.
  • To install the grommets, drill a 1 in hole in your bucket or other container with, for example, a hole saw, a 1" spade drill bit.
  • See Product Description for full complete installation instructions.
Bestseller No. 4
Rubber Grommets Water Seal Hydroponics Dutch Bucket for use with 1/2' SCH 40 PVC Pipe, 1' drilled Hole - Pack of 20
49 Reviews on Amazon
Rubber Grommets Water Seal Hydroponics Dutch Bucket for use with 1/2" SCH 40 PVC Pipe, 1" drilled Hole - Pack of 20
  • Grommets for making a water-tight seal for use in hydroponic setups and Dutch bucket growing systems, among other applications.
  • Make a water-tight seal with low cost 1/2" PVC pipe (known as Schedule 40 PVC pipe) sold at virtually all hardware stores in the USA.
  • To install the grommets, drill a 1 in hole in your bucket or other container with, for example, a hole saw, a 1" spade drill bit.
  • See Product Description for full complete installation instructions.
Bestseller No. 5
(2) Bato Hydroponic Trough Dutch Pots 9'x12'x10' with (4) Elbows
1 Reviews on Amazon

Wrapping It Up

One of the main advantages of hydroponic tomatoes is that you can start to enjoy the yields in as early as eight weeks or even less. Growing the fruits hydroponically also provides you with different methods that you can set easily at home to enjoy high yields. The systems are inexpensive, eco-friendly, and they come with easy installations.

Even though some of the systems come with timers, you need to monitor the growth of your crops regularly and prune them to ensure you get optimal results. With this article, even if you are a beginner, I do not doubt that it will help you to get the healthiest hydroponic tomatoes with bountiful yields.

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Bowden draws from over a decade of home growing experience as well as consulting for small-scale and hobbyist-level growers. He has written hundreds of articles, thought pieces, and tutorials about growing cannabis at home

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