How Long Can a Tomato Plant Go Without Water?

Tomatoes are among the most consumed vegetables around the world.

Delicious experience you get from tomatoes that you personal grown in your backyard can’t be imagined.

As they say, (in this case) benefits of yield come with responsibility to take care. Watering being the most essential element for plant growth, it is important to know for how many days or hours can tomato plants survive without water.

Size of tomato plant, container and climatic conditions in the region should be considered before determining how long the plant can live without water.

An average tomato plant can live up-to 36 hours without water or less if the plant is big and pot is small.

If the plant is under full sun in summer, then probably you can’t expect the tomato plant to live more than 2-3 days.

A shady spot with pruned leaves can increase the life of tomato plant without water for 5 days.

Probably, if you’re on a vacation then I highly recommend arranging self-watering system or ask help from your neighbor.

Solanum Lycopersicum, better known as tomato, is a healthy insertion into our daily life.

Native to Central and South America, tomatoes are the most nutritious berries known to humankind. They are versatile and can be grown in your backyard too. 

However, they are not easy to deal with.

They may present you with a lot of unique requirements, especially when there is water stress.

If you have them in your yard and want to go out on vacation, you cannot keep them deprived of water throughout. And definitely, hiring someone to water them is also not the best idea, since it might be expensive.

So, how long can a tomato plant go without water?

What can you do to ensure that they remain consistently good? We present you with the most relevant and reliable tips and methods to help you ensure that they are growing as well as you want them to.

Also Read: Do Tomato Plants Self Pollinate?

Can Tomato Plants Go Without Water?

Long answer short, tomato plants can self-sustain for more than 36 hours without their favorite ingredient, water.

Tomatoes are independent in storing some stock of water in the form of moisture in their cells—the cells reserve moisture to cater to the plant’s needs while growing. However, how long do these reserves last keeps changing along with a change in factors.  

Also Read: Is Wood Ash Good for Tomatoes?

Some factors that impact the water reserves of tomato plants are: 

Where are they grown? 

Where your tomato plants thriving?

Are they in a container or placed in your garden?

To some, this might not be important, but actually, they are.

Think logically;

When you are growing plants in containers and self-watering pots, the soil remains moist at almost every hour of the day, making it easier for the plant to reach out for water as and when it requires directly.

While the average time limit of tomatoes surviving without water is 36 hours, you can smartly shift them for up to 3 to 7 days with self-watering pots. This can be done with the help of deep hydration. 

Moving to garden plants, the soil dries up fast and requires you to water them now and then, making it a tiresome process.

While pots and containers have the facility to move them from high sunlight to low sunlight, gardens do not. Thus, the evaporation rate is not in your control anymore. 

Also Read: Why Are My Tomato Seedlings Wilting or Dying?

Presence of sunlight

Everybody knows how evaporation works, right

When heating conditions (usual sunlight) are present, the water disappears into the air in water vapor.

How do you think your tomato plant will survive if it is placed under constant sun exposure? 

The evaporation rate will increase, making it difficult for the plants to retain moisture from the soil.

If your plant is under direct sunlight for four days, it will start showing symptoms of destruction if not watered.

Therefore, it is essential to keep an eye on your tomato plants and keep watering them after every third day. 

Type of soil

We have been talking about the capability of cells holding water by retaining it from the soil.

But, what we are not paying attention to, is the fact of how does the soil hold so much water?

Do all soil types retain the same amount of water and for how much time?

To ensure maximum protection of your tomato plant, you need to choose a soil mixture with maximum clay content and minimal or zero sandy content. Sandy soils tend to support the evaporation process, making it quicker.

However, clay holds the moisture for a longer time, sometimes even for 14 days. That is, if precipitation continues and crosses the 24-hour mark. 

Next time, keep in mind to purchase traditional loam soil for your watering needs and stay away from sandy soil mixtures.

Also Read: How Long After Flowering Do Tomatoes Appear?

Signs that tell you that your tomato plants need water

While we have a standard timeline of when your plants need water, we cannot always rely on it.

What if your tomato plants require water immediately after a gap of 10-12 hours?

What would you do then? How would you know when the right time is?

Well, you need to constantly check your tomato plants for signs that tell you that it is time to water them.

The following signs are vital in helping you moderate your plant hydration levels.

Also Read: Are Eggshells Good for Tomato Plants?

Condition of soil

As said earlier, dry soil means no water. Therefore, the easiest and most convenient way to know the water needs is by checking the soil underneath. 

Take your hand, and feel the texture of the soil with it. If you feel something dry and cracked on the surface that means the roots of your plants are not getting the desired level of hydration.

However, if your hands feel moist, loose, and wet, it means that there is still some time before you start watering your plants. This is the ideal soil condition. 

Condition of stem and leaves

Leaves and stems are a mirror of the inner plant condition, and merely by taking a look at the color and texture of the stems and leaves, you can tell if the tomatoes need some watering or not. 

As expected, green, flawless, and potent plant stems are a reflection of healthy tomato plants.

Similar is the case with brittle, weak and discolored leaves indicate taking strict action to save your tomato plant life.

Check this out: Why Should I Cut Off Yellow Leaves on Tomato Plants?

Condition of fruits

Where do you think does all the water goes?

Why do the plants need water at all? To keep the tomato fruits healthy. Research shows that about 95% of water in the tomato plant goes to the tomato fruit, and whether or not your plant needs water can be identifiable by looking at the fruits. 

If the fruits seem round, smooth, and red to look, there is no need to water them further.

However, if the fruits look wrinkly, disclosed, and out of shape, then it is an alarm for you to pace up the watering process. 

Also Read: How far Apart to Plant Tomatoes in a Raised bed?

Tips to Water Tomato Plants- the How and When

Now that we know the conditions under which water holding capacity is maximum and the signs that warn us about watering plants, it is time to shift to the tips of watering tomato plants, how to do it and when to do it. 

Looking at the best time

Some might think there is no significance of time while watering plants but this is not the case.

Some of the best times to water plants are: 

In the daylight

Why though? Why in the daytime? That is because your tomato plant is most receptive to water intake at dawn.

Since the sunlight is present, it would give the plant maximum time to absorb moisture and begin photosynthesis. 

Additionally, the process of evaporation is also rightly set into action, with the help of sunlight at the most appropriate time. 


Since it is required to water your plants twice daily, the second time you water it should be in the afternoon. Instead of overwatering your plants, make sure to water them lightly and in the perfect quantities. 

Also Read: How to Keep Birds Away from Tomatoes?

The best way of watering

There are some of the favored tips and methods that assist the water process. Some of them are:

#1 Water the seedlings separately

When the plant is in its formative stage, it is relatively fragile and vulnerable than a mature plant. Therefore, it is essential to take special care in watering the seedlings. These little things should be constantly kept wet and moist and opposed to the entire plant. 

#2 Take it slow

Water is suitable for the plants, but if you overwater them, then the chances are that you end up destroying the plant.

The roots of tomato plants are approximately 2 feet long, and therefore, it is not recommended to shower them, but to provide them water slowly and deeply, thus allowing them to sink deep into the soil.

Also Read: Are Banana Peels Good For Tomato Plants?

#3 Drip Irrigation

Do you have more than 5-6 tomato plants? Watering them separately might take some additional time, right?

If your answers are affirmative, then you should try the process of drip irrigation to water all of your tomato plants separately by reducing water wastage, time, and energy.

This way, you would not be supposed to water them now and then, and you could also easily control the pace of the flow of water. 

#4 Mulching

Adding a healthy layer of organic elements can be a good touch that could speed up retaining moisture by soil healthily and conveniently. 

Also Read: How to Speed up Tomato Ripening on the Vine?

Final word

Depending on the climatic conditions in your region, plant size and container in which you’re growing, tomato plant can’t live without water more than 36 hours.

Looking for an exciting addition to your vegetable garden?

Tomato plants would surely be the right fit. However, maintaining them at their best size, shape, and quality is essential. Their growth requirements are specific and do not require much energy and time. 

With the right attention, equipment, and techniques, like those mentioned above, you can also keep your beautiful tomato plants away from weeds, germs, pests, and any other kind of unwanted elements. 

Follow the aforementioned tips to enjoy the health benefits of your own tomato plants.  Hope now you know how long can your tomato plant survive without water.

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