By growing hydroponic tomatoes indoors you will benefit by having your tomatoes ripen faster, as well as having more control over the plant’s growth. For indoor growth, the best varieties are those that produce smaller fruits such as cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes and grape tomatoes. By growing them indoors, you are protecting them from both pests and temperature changes, two elements that can destroy the success of your outdoor tomatoes. Here’s how you can grow great tomatoes with a hydroponics system.
Step 1: Choose a Location & System
Select a hydroponics system depending on your budget and needs. Look online and read some reviews to get a feel for what will work the best for you. Once you select a kit, determine where you want to grow your tomato plant. If you will be using artificial light, it's not necessary to be near a window, but you will need to be near a power outlet. You can also opt to grow your plant outside on a porch or balcony if the weather conditions are warm and there is no chance of night frost.
Step 2: Fill up the Hydroponic System
Add water to the system. Depending on how large of hydroponic system you have the amount will vary, but generally a small system suitable for growing a tomato plant will require somewhere in the range of 4 gallons of water.
Step 3: Add Nutrients
Your hydroponics kit will most likely contain nutrients to add to the water. Follow the directions that came with your kit and add them accordingly, being sure to carefully measure the ingredients.
Step 4: Add the Rocks
Wash the included rocks and add them to the top reservoir of the hydroponic system.
Step 5: Add the Tomato Plant
Remove the tomato plant from its pot and gently wash the roots. After you remove the dirt, place the plant in the rocks, using a few of them to cover the dirt.
Step 6: Complete the Set Up
Install the drip ring and hose, and plug the system in to ensure that it's functioning properly. Make sure the water is dripping from the drip ring.
Step 7: Maintain Your System
Check the water level daily and fill it up as needed. By not properly filling the water level, you will starve your plant of nutrients, so this is very important. You will also need to change the water out every two weeks. Follow the directions that came with your kit to do this.
Step 8: Prune the Plant
Once your plant has grown to about 2 feet tall, cut off the centermost stalk. This will encourage the growth of the other stalks. You will also want to stake your plant at this time.
Step 9: Add Nutrients
You will also need to add new nutrients following both the cycle of the plants and when you change the water. Hydroponically grown plants absorb the nutrients in the water, so they need to be changed and added frequently. You will need to add more nutrients to encourage bloom and ripening. Follow the manufacturer's nutrient directions to do this and you will soon have hydroponically grown tomatoes to enjoy.