Can Tomatoes Grow in Indirect Sunlight? (What Could Go Wrong?)

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It’s a well-known fact that tomatoes grow under direct sunlight. However, many people who are planning to grow tomatoes indoors still insist on asking, can tomatoes grow in indirect sunlight?

Yes, tomatoes can grow in indirect sunlight. It’s enough to keep your tomato plants alive but what goes wrong is they’re smaller and don’t produce many fruits. They need 6-8 hours of full sunlight daily to grow a full crop of large and healthy tomatoes.

Can Tomatoes Grow in Indirect Sunlight? 

It is always best to grow tomato plants with six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day.

With indirect sunlight, your tomato plants will be using most of the energy they produce to grow their root systems and foliage – hence the scant supply of smaller tomatoes.

Reproduction of flowers and then fruits will come late in the growing season.

Tomatoes are not shade-loving plants. If you are growing tomatoes indoors and only have indirect sunlight, you can supplement it with some artificial light.

Sunlight is one of the essential needs of plants to grow. That also includes tomatoes.

If you have a shaded garden, you may be wondering if your tomato plant can still succeed with only indirect sunlight.

It is always best to grow tomato plants with six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day.

Sunlight Requirements of Tomatoes

Tomato plants are fast-growing. Under favorable conditions, they can double in mass about every two weeks.

Due to their high growth rate, tomato plants need a lot of energy – which they produce through photosynthesis. They photosynthesize when they get enough water, sunlight, and nutrients.

How much sun do your tomato plants need?

The growth of your tomato plant goes hand in hand with sufficient sunlight. Sunlight is a vital growth factor for tomato plants.

What do Tomato Plants Need to Grow? 

Your tomato plants will need these to ensure they will produce abundant fruits:

Fertile and well-drained soil

Adequate moisture

Slightly acidic soil with between 6.0 and 6.8 pH level

Sufficient nutrients

6 to 8 hours under a  full sun

The hours of direct sunlight per day that your tomato plants need do not necessarily have to be consecutive.

You can grow your tomato plants in the morning sun and afternoon sun, as long as the total amount of direct sunlight is 8 hours or more.

However, each of your tomato plants has different sunlight requirements for themselves to grow and for their fruits to ripen.

How much Sunlight do Tomato Plants Need to Grow? 

Tomato plants need six to eight hours of direct sunlight (under the full sun) per day to grow, thrive, and produce good fruits.

This is so because tomato plants convert sunlight into energy. Tomato plants need the energy to bear fruits.

The more you expose your tomato plants to direct sunlight, the more energy they have to produce more fruits.

How Much Sunlight Do Tomatoes Need To Ripen? 

While tomato plants need six to eight hours per day of direct sunlight to grow, tomato fruits do not need sunlight to ripen. The truth is, tomato fruits ripen the fastest without sunlight.

Tomato fruits ripen because of heat and ethylene gas. Sunlight is only essential for tomatoes to grow and produce tomato fruits.

Different Types of Sunlight and their Effects on your Tomato Plants

It is common knowledge that plants need sunlight to grow. Varying amounts and intensity determine the sunlight a plant gets.

Most tomato varieties grow best in full sun and well-draining locations. Anything less than six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day can deprive your tomato plants of the nutrients they need to grow and produce fruits.

Here Are The Different Types Of Sunlight And How They Could Affect Your Tomatoes: 

• Full Sunlight

You can find full sunlight in open areas that do not have trees. Tomato plants love being in full sunlight from morning to evening.

When planted in locations with full sun, tomato plants experience the best growth and the most abundant yields.

• Partial Sunlight

Plants that require partial sunlight can tolerate more light than plants that need some shade. Morning or evening shade is best for these plants. Tomato plants will do just fine in partial sun locations.

They will have good growth and a pretty good harvest. You will notice, though, that some stems of your tomato plants will be uneven. Also, your tomato plant will not grow to its full height.

• Full Shade

Full shade plants enjoy some sort of indirect sunlight while others prefer full shade. Tomato plants grown in full shade will not grow well.

They will most likely survive, but they will not look happy as compared to tomato plants in full sunlight.

They will also not produce much fruit. Some do not even produce any fruit at all. This is because they are not receiving the required nutrients to thrive.

• Partial Shade

Partial shade is the opposite of partial sunlight. Plants that thrive in partial shade are sensitive to the sun and prefer to be in the shade especially when the afternoon sun is out.

Tomatoes planted in partial shade will not get the required amount of six to eight hours per day of sunlight. The bulk of which is coming from the afternoon sun.

Without the needed sunlight they will not grow strong or big. They will also not produce many fruits.

Water Requirements of Tomato Plants based on Sunlight Conditions

Tomatoes typically grow better in gardens rather than in containers. But with the right sunlight, tomatoes will grow in porch pots or garden beds.

After planting your tomatoes in direct sunlight, the next most important is the plant’s water requirement.

Tomato plants need a lot of water to grow and thrive. They should not be soggy but they also do not like to be dry.

To ensure an abundant harvest, your tomato plants in garden beds will need 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week.

Tomato plants in containers should be watered as you notice them beginning to dry out. The roots of tomato plants in containers cannot spread and reach for water when needed so they should not be allowed to dry out.

At the start of the growing season, it is alright to water your tomato plants only in the morning and allow the soil to remain damp for the rest of the day.

When the days get hotter, water tomatoes in the morning and evening to prevent them from dehydrating.

Final Thoughts

Tomato plants need direct sunlight to grow, thrive, and produce a bountiful harvest. Can tomatoes grow in indirect sunlight? Yes, they can but don’t expect them to grow as successfully as when they are grown under direct sunlight.

The plants will not produce many fruits, and those it does produce will be much smaller and not look at their best. Sometimes, they will not produce any fruits at all.

So, plant your tomatoes in the right location. With direct sunlight, as well as the appropriate and diligent care, and you can enjoy an abundant harvest of large, beautiful, succulent, healthy tomatoes.

Tomatoes are high in nutrients our bodies need. It has been said that they are better cooked than raw – from a nutrient point of view that is!

Jenny Marie
Tribal Writer

Edited By
Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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