Bottom vs. Top Watering Tomatoes and Why One Way Is Better

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Bottom watering essentially means that you pour water into the plate underneath a potted plant rather than watering it from the top. This allows the roots to soak the water up through the drainage holes rather than having it wash down from above, but is it better to water tomatoes like this than watering them from the top, or does it not matter?

It is almost always better to water tomatoes from the bottom than from the top since it promotes root growth and reduces the risk of several problems. That said, you should still water your tomatoes from the top once per week or so to wash away excess minerals that accumulate on top of the soil.

If you keep reading, you will learn precisely which problems you can avoid, or at least reduce the risk of, by bottom watering your tomatoes. I will, of course, also explain the best way to do it depending on how you grow your tomatoes.

Here Is Why You Should Water Your Tomatoes From the Bottom

Bottom watering is the best way to water tomatoes, but bottom watering only really works for potted plants, since you need to pour the water into the plate underneath the pot.

If you grow your tomatoes in the ground, I still have a really good tip for you. You can scroll down a bit to find that.

Bottom watering promotes root growth since the water comes from below instead of from above, which encourages the roots to grow and stretch to better reach the water.

When you water your tomatoes from the top, the roots will, of course, still grow, but they won’t grow quite as much as if you bottom water them. This is because the water will wash down through the soil and reach the roots without the roots having to stretch additionally.

A larger root system makes the risk of overwatering significantly lower since the plant can obtain more water before getting too much. You can read more about that on this link.

Bottom watering also reduces the risk of attracting certain pests and diseases including mold since the top of the soil and the plant itself stay dry for more time.

If you want to learn the best way to water your tomatoes depending if they grow in a container or directly in the ground, keep reading.

Best Way to Water Tomatoes Depending on How You Grow Them

As I have already explained, how you water your tomatoes matter a lot. So to make it as easy for you as possible, I have written a short but clear explanation of how you should water your tomatoes if they are in the ground or in a container with or without drainage holes. Let’s get into it.

This is me watering one of my young tomato plants by pouring water onto the soil and not the plant

If you grow tomatoes in a container with drainage holes

If you grow your tomatoes in a pot with drainage holes, chances are that there is a plate underneath the pot to prevent water and soil from getting everywhere.

The best way to water tomatoes in a pot or container with drainage holes is to pour water into the plate so that the plant and its roots can soak up the water.

As I explained in this article, this is because it promotes root growth and reduces the risk of several problems.

If you grow tomatoes directly in the ground

If you grow your tomatoes directly in the ground, you can’t bottom water them as if they were in a pot, but how you water them still matters a lot.

The best way to water tomatoes that grow in the ground is to pour the water directly onto the soil from a short distance to avoid splashing soil and water onto the leaves.

Try to keep the plant and its leaves dry by watering like this instead of just pouring water over the plant. This is because the leaves, and thereby the plant as a whole, can take damage from being too wet too often since it increases the risk of being attacked by certain pests and diseases including mold.

If you grow tomatoes in a container without drainage holes

If you grow your tomatoes in a pot or container without any drainage holes at the bottom, the best way you can water them is to just pour the water onto the soil as if it was growing in the ground.

I do not recommend growing tomatoes in pots or containers without drainage holes since it significantly increases the risk of overwatering. Instead, I recommend that you get some clay pots with drainage holes since they are highly breathable and will help with keeping the roots healthy. I almost always use some like these (link to Amazon).

If you grow your tomatoes in containers without drainage holes, I recommend transplanting them to containers with drainage holes. Alternatively, you can take some cuttings from your plants and grow them as new plants in another pot. I have an easy guide with photos of how to do that on this link.


My name is Anders, and I am the owner and writer here at Gardening Break. Gardening has always been a big part of my life. As a child, I would watch and learn as my parents worked in our garden or as my grandfather worked in his greenhouse. As I have gotten older, gardening has become a bigger and bigger part of my life. I have grown to enjoy it more and more, but I am also starting to realize just how much there is to learn about gardening, which is why I created Gardening Break in the first place; To share all the useful tips and tricks I learn along the way. You can read more about me and my mission with Gardening Break by following the "About Us"-link at the top and bottom of every page.

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