Choosing the best tomato for indoor hydroponics has to take into account of the indoor hydroponics limitations: space, height and time.
If you plan to grow tomato indoors, maybe in your basement, the most important thing to take into account is that tomato plants can grow tall. Especially if you grow in ready made hydroponics systems as Aerogarden or Idoo, there is a maximum height for the lights. And even if you could place the growing lights higher, there will be less light to the bottom of the plants.
Also, time is important when growing tomato in indoor hydroponics. As you are paying for the growing light and nutrient solution you will probably want a tomato plant that grows fast and has maximum yields indoors.
Therefore, the best tomato for indoor hydroponics are the dwarf tomato.
What is the best hydroponic system for tomatoes
While you can make your own cheap hydroponic system, tomatoes need a lot of light and nutrient solution, so maybe an automatic hydroponic system is worthwhile. You can use of course any ready made hydroponic system, but you might want to have a look at these 2 systems:
The iDOO Hydroponics Growing System 12Pods is a nice, cheap choice, especially if you are going for the dwarf tomatoes. It has a integrated low noise water pump that keeps your roots aerated and prevent root rot. The built-in a fan gives the plants a nice breeze and the adjustable height lightning gives plenty of light. Vegetables Mode emits blue light, red light, far red light and white light; Flower/Fruit Mode emits red light, far red light and white light.
If you are planing to grow bigger tomatoes and have natural lightning, you might want to go for a hydroponic bucket.
The Hydrofarm RS5GALSYS Root Spa Deep Water Culture Bucket System has it’s advantages: you can use it to grow tall plants; the air pump oxygenates the growing solution to encourage root growth; the 5 gallons volume is big enough to have enough growing solution for the tomato plant.
You will need however a good light source and keep in mind that the hydroponic buckets are very basic.
What are the best Dwarf tomato for indoor hydroponics
If you want to choose a tomato for indoor hydroponics you have to know what to look for on the package:
- cherry tomatoes – the small cherry like tomatoes work best for hydroponics as they are light and don’t take a lot of space
- best for balcony and pots – a sign than the plant can grow in a small space and it doesn’t grow tall
- determinate and Indeterminate tomatoes (determinate means that reach a certain plant height and then stop growing and producing; Indeterminate varieties continue to grow and produce tomatoes, therefore they need extra-tall supports.
My preference about indoor tomatoes goes towards these 3 dwarf tomatoes:
Venus Micro Dwarf Tomatoes
Venus micro dwarf is a a very beautiful, sweet, orange cherry tomato variety developed by Thompson & Morgan. Plants grow up to 15-20cm tall and it’s perfect for pots and baskets. You can sow them from February to March for indoors growing. The germination takes 7-14 days at around 15-20 celsius. Tomatoes can be harvested as they ripen from July to September.
Aerogarden Experiments has a nice 90 days timelapse and experiment on growing Venus Micro Dwarf Tomatoes in Aerogarden Harvest with tips and tricks:
Tiny Tim Tomatoes
Tiny Tim tomatoes are another favorite for indoor hydroponic systems. It is a dwarf, determinate plant, growing just 12 to 18 inches (up to 45 cm). These small plants are perfect for year-round growing in hydroponic systems as you can harvest them between 45-55 days from the first true leaves. Although they are a determinate type of dwarf tomatoes, they continue to grow for an extended period of time.
Aerogarden experiments also has a timelapse of Growing Tiny Tim Tomatoes in Aerogarden Harvest
Micro Tom Tomato
Micro Tom Tomatoes grow 6-8 inches tall and they produce tomatoes in 50-60 days. Great for aquaponics, hydroponics or Kratky hydroponics on the windowsill. In this experiment, NewMoore grows Hydroponic Mini Tomatoes With 6w Grow Light using the Kratky method. Nutrients used are self made: Masterblend tomato 4-18-38, Calcium Nitrate 15.5-0-0 and epsom salt. The 100 days timelapse shows how small the plants really are and how little maintenance they need:
Producing tomatoes not leaves – pruning and nutrient deficiencies
One of the most important things when trying to produce tomatoes in an indoor hydroponic system is producing fruits and not leaves. Also, while indoor hydroponics has less pests and diseases than growing in soil outside you should be able to notice and understand nutrient deficiencies. For these we need to know how to prune tomatoes for maximum fruit production and basic nutrient needs for the plant.
Pruning plants is both a science and an art, how do you know what and when to cat? Should you let the tomato plant grow as big as it wants to have more flowers and fruits? How can you make sure that you aren’t cutting a branch that might actually produce?
Epic Gardening shows us how to prune tomato plants. Things are different between determinate and indeterminate plants:
Tomatoes can be affected by pests and diseases, by nutrient deficiencies and poor pollination. GrowVeg is troubleshooting some of the most common tomato problems, so nothing gets in the way of a terrific crop
FAQ about growing hydroponic tomatoes indoors
Can you grow tomatoes indoors hydroponically?
Yes you can. Tomatoes can grow in DWC (deep water culture), Ebb and flow or Nutrient film technique hydroponics. Just keep in mind that heaving lots of tomatoes means you need lot of nutrient solution. More info on the hydroponic systems can be found here.
Tikki O. shows us how to grow tomatoes in Kratky hydroponic system
How do you start tomatoes for indoor growing?
Of course you can buy tomato seeds by looking for the good signs on the packages (cherry tomato, balcony, determinate growth), start them using the paper method or directly in the rockwool cubes, but Khang Starr shows us how to propagate tomato plants cloning an older plant for a small Kratky Hydroponic Setup:
Will tomatoes grow under LED lights?
Yes, but they need plenty of it. And because you don’t only want to grow the leafy side but also mature some tomatoes, it might be a good idea to understand which are the best hydroponic lights depending on the phase the plant is.
How fast do hydroponic tomatoes grow?
Growing mostly depend on the type of tomato. Tiny Tim for example grows very fast, in 45-50 days and hydroponics also makes things faster because it’s a controlled environment and the plants gets all the nutrient it needs in an easy way.