How do you Grow Hydroponic Tomatoes?

Hydroponic tomato growing allows you to produce juicy, flavorful tomatoes without soil. With the right setup and care, you can get higher yields faster compared to conventional gardening.

Follow this beginner’s guide for step-by-step instructions.

Selecting a Hydroponic System

There are several types of hydroponic systems to choose from. The most suitable ones for growing tomatoes are:

  1. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) NFT systems feature channels or tubes with a constant flow of nutrient solution. The bare roots of plants sit directly in the channels. NFT allows close monitoring and control of roots and nutrients. However, it requires more maintenance.
  2. Drip Systems In a drip system or top-watering system, plants sit in growing mediums like perlite, vermiculite or coconut coir. Nutrient solution is delivered to the base of each plant via drippers or sprayers. This controlled watering allows flexibility in size.
  3. Deep Water Culture (DWC) The plant roots hang down into an aerated reservoir of nutrient solution. Oxygenation prevents root rot. You can place fewer plants per square foot, but plants grow large with high yields.

Choosing Plant Varieties

Recommended tomato varieties for hydroponics include:

  • Determinate: Bush Champion, Bush Beefsteak
  • Indeterminate: Sweet Million, Brandywine, Sun Gold, Sungold, Black Krim
  • Dwarf: Tiny Tim, Patio Hybrid
  • Mini: Red Robin, Sweet ‘n Neat

Indeterminate varieties continue to grow and produce if supported well, while determinate stay short with predetermined size. Dwarf and mini types suit small hydro systems.

Setting Up the System

Construct or set up your chosen hydroponic system as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Position it in a spot receiving 6-8 hours of sunlight daily with stable room temperatures around 75°F.

Install growing lights if natural light is inadequate. Equip the system with water pumps, irrigation lines, timers, growing medium, nutrient reservoir, air stones etc.

Test that everything is working before planting – timers turning on/off correctly, water flowing well to roots, bubbles from air stones.

Prepping Seedlings

Although you can germinate tomato seeds hydroponically, it is tricky. Start with seedlings or young plant clones instead for best results.

Select healthy, short seedlings around 4-6 weeks old, with 5+ leaves. Gently wash the starter mix from roots before planting into the hydroponic system.

Planting & Support

Carefully place seedlings into the growing medium like perlite, grow blocks or directly in NFT channels. Take care not to damage the stem and roots.

Set up tomato cages or trellises right away. As vines lengthen, gently guide them through the plant supports, securing with soft ties if needed.

Maintaining Nutrient Solution

Prepare nutrient solution according to instructions, for the fruiting/flowering stage. Maintain EC between 2.0-3.5 and pH 5.8-6.5. Top off tank as consumption increases.

Completely replace old nutrient solution every 1-2 weeks to prevent salt build ups. More frequent replacement may be required in hotter months.

Monitor and adjust pH and EC routinely with a meter. Irregular readings can indicate equipment issues or root problems needing attention.

Oxygenation & Pollination

Maintain constant water oxygenation with air pumps and stones, at least during daylight hours when plant respiration is high.

Flowers may need manual pollination assistance since the enclosed system lacks wind or insects. Use electric toothbrushes or fans to vibrate flowers once a week.

Pruning & Training

Prune away old foliage and dense side shoots to allow light penetration and air circulation. But avoid over-pruning.

Keep tying main stem and side shoots to the support structure. For indeterminate varieties, pinch off shoot tips once they reach 4-5 fruit trusses to encourage ripening and direct energy to fruits.

Common Problems

  • Slow growth, leaf discoloration – Nutrient deficiency
  • Leaf edges turn brown – Salt buildup or pH imbalance
  • White residue on plants – Hard water deposits
  • Algae in reservoir – Excess nutrients + light exposure
  • Drooping leaves – Low water/nutrients or root disease
  • Small fruits – Lack of pollination or nitrogen deficieny

Routinely inspect under plant leaves, stem joints and reservoir for any pest infestations. Catch problems early and fix promptly. Have backup supplies on hand for quick repairs.

Harvest Time

Ripe tomatoes should easily detach from vines with a gentle twist. Enjoy sun-ripened tomato goodness using your own hydroponic setup!

Photo of author

Miles Alexander Alvarez

Miles Alexander Alvarez, the founder of, is a hydroponic gardening expert with over 26 years of experience in the industry. Holding degrees in Horticulture and Sustainable Agriculture from UC Davis and Cornell University, he has dedicated his career to advancing modern agriculture through innovative hydroponic solutions. Currently based in Sri Lanka, Miles works with a leading agricultural company to implement sustainable farming practices. As a published author and recognized authority in the field, his insights and expertise make an invaluable resource for hydroponic gardening enthusiasts worldwide.

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