Last Updated on August 31, 2020 by Matt Gardener
How much sunlight does a tomato plant need? Well, tomato plants need at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. But this also depends on so many factors, such as the growth stage of the tomato plant, which we shall look at later in the article.
Tomato plants grow under full sunlight and well-drained soil with a pH of about 6.0 to 6.8. For healthy growth, tomato plants and sunlight go hand in hand. Without adequate sunlight, tomato plants will not produce fruits, and if they do, the fruits would not be healthy.
As a tomato grower, you might wonder the amount of sunlight a tomato plant needs and if your tomato plant is getting enough sunlight. These questions are pertinent, and you deserve a well-informed answer if you are growing or planning to grow tomato plants in your garden.
Now, let’s get to know how much sunlight your tomato plant needs and how you can get them the optimal amount of adequate sunlight.
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Different Types of Sunlight and Their Effects On Tomato Plants
Morning sunlight is essential for the process of photosynthesis, chlorophyll production, and the absorption of ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light is usually intense at the early hours of the day, and morning sunlight gives off minimal heat to the tomato plant.
Morning sunlight also evaporates dew that fell on the leaves overnight, thereby preventing fungal infections. It also helps acclimate the tomato plant to a new day instead of exposing the plant to a sudden burst of intense direct afternoon sunlight.
Midday sunlight appears as from 11 am right until 2 pm. At this time, the sun is at its peak position, and the tomato plants get a lot of direct sunlight, which is something that tomato plants love.
One of the drawbacks of midday sunlight is that it gives off intense heat to the plants. Therefore, if you live in a region where direct sunlight can cause the temperature to get as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32 degrees Celsius, you should use shade cloth over the tomato plants.
Alternatively, you can grow sunflowers close by to provide shade from the sunlight.
Afternoon sunlight, alongside evening sunlight, provides tomato plants with necessary ultraviolet light without additional heat.
If you covered your tomato plants with a shade cloth, at this time, you should get rid of the fabric to enable the plants to receive sunlight from the west.
How Much Sunlight Does A Tomato Plant Need At Different Stages of Growth?
How much sunlight a tomato plant needs is dependent on the plant’s stage of growth. Tomato plants need various amounts of the sun at different stages of growth.
It is essential that you understand this in order to protect your plants at each stage and give them the utmost optimal care they need.
The following are the different growth stages and the amount of sunlight needed at each stage:
The growth stage is the period of a tomato plant after it has been transplanted to its last growing location, which could be a container or the ground. At this growth stage, the tomato plant would need six hours of direct sunlight.
Additionally, it would need a sufficient amount of nutrients such as nitrogen, and at about two weeks, the plant mass would double up.
This stage requires more sunlight energy than the growth stage. This is a delicate stage as the flowers could fall off even without being pollinated if the temperature rises above 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32 degrees Celsius.
At this stage, the tomato plant needs about seven hours of direct sunlight. The plant also needs an optimal amount of water, so do not starve the plant of water supply, to prevent the plants from drying up.
The fruiting stage is another delicate stage of tomato plants because the plants are susceptible to sunscald if they receive an intense amount of sunlight at very high temperatures.
However, this is also an energy-intensive stage whereby the tomato plants use up to eight to nine hours of direct sunlight.
The fruits should be shielded away from sunlight. To keep them away from sunlight, ensure to prune the plant with caution so as to avoid exposing the plants to the heat of sunlight.
When a tomato plant gets to this stage, it no longer requires extra energy or nutrients. Tomato fruits ripen with the help of ethylene, a useful gas that is given by a hormone.
Tomato fruits, once they start to ripen, are best cut off from the plant and allowed to continue its ripening indoor, either on your kitchen counter or in your refrigerator.
This would also save the fruit from animals and prevent the fruit from cracking on the vine due to a sudden influx of water.
Read Also: How Can I Protect My Tomato Plant From Bugs?
How much sunlight does a tomato plant need? As we have seen, dependent on the growth stage of the tomato plant.
At each stage, there is a varied amount of sunlight required by the plant. However, tomato plants need at least eight hours of direct sunlight, ideally to thrive and blossom.