Should Tomato Plants Be in Full Sun?

A tomato plant can double its size every two weeks. To be capable of this, tomato plants need a lot of energy. This energy is produced through photosynthesis that needs water, nutrients and plenty of sunlight.

tomato plants in full sun

Tomato plants, need at least 6 hours of full sun to have enough energy, however, if you plant them in a shadier spot, these will still produce fruits. Not as many as they would produce in full sun, but you can still enjoy the taste of the homegrown tomatoes even if you are not lucky enough to have a bright, full sun-rich garden or patio.

If your tomato plants are growing inside and they cannot get enough natural sunlight, you can use a growing lamp to compensate.

But, when I say full sun, you should also think about the heat that the sun produces also. Sometimes, the bright, direct sunlight can be damaging for your tomato plants because of the heat.

In this article, I am going to talk about the amount and the type of sunlight that tomato plants need and how to prevent sunburn in your plants.

How Much Sun Do Tomatoes Need?

Tomato plants can grow quickly if they have all the needed conditions. They can double in size every two weeks.

To have the energy for this rapid growth, they need at least 6 hours of full sun. The more sun they get, the more fruit they can produce.

But this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Because with the sunlight comes the heat as well and the tomatoes cannot stand too much heat.

Tomatoes will grow best if the temperatures are between 75°F/24°C during the night and 90°F/32°C during the day. But sometimes the midday full sun can be too hot for your tomato plants.

Anything out of this range of temperatures can cause stress to your tomato plants and can cause growth stunts or even sunscald.

So, if you live in a hot and dry climate, you must provide enough water for your plants, and if the temperatures are getting too high, you can protect your plants in the midday.

How to Protect Tomato Plants from Too Much Sun?

As tomato plants and fruits can get damaged from too much sun, you should protect them from the hottest sunlight to prevent sunscald.

You can use shade blankets or sheets. These are white fabrics that are thin enough to allow some sunlight through and reduces its intensity. It provides shade for your tomato plants and will protect these from the heat of the sun.

Another natural remedy is that you can plant trees, bushes or other vining plants to ensure natural shade for your garden.

Also, avoiding over-pruning your tomato plants can help the fruit being protected. Removing too many leaves increases the chance of sunscald on the fruits.

When the weather is hotter and temperatures are increasing too much, you should also water the tomato plants regularly. Perhaps you can water them more than once a day when it is too hot because the soil will dry out quicker. Especially if your plants are growing in pots or growing bags.

Will Tomatoes Grow in Shade?

As I mentioned already a few times in this article, tomato plants love the sunlight and they need it in order to grow well.

But some of you might have shadier gardens or patios, and here comes the question: will tomatoes grow in shade?

My answer is yes, tomatoes can grow in shade. Your tomato plants will not die in the shade; however, these will be less productive.

So, you can grow tomatoes in shade, but not in complete darkness. If you grow your tomato plants indoors, these will not survive in dark spots of your house, such as a bathroom.

But the good news is that you can manage this problem as well. If your tomato plants are growing outside, you can paint the fence or the walls white, so this will reflect the light to your plants.

Another trick is that you just simply choose a variety that needs less sunlight, such as Siberia or San Francisco varieties. These will be happy even in a shadier place.

If you grow your plants indoors, then you can use growing lights to provide the needed energy for them.

Which Stage of Sunlight is Best for Tomato Plants?

When I say “stage of sunlight”, I mean the sunlight at different times of the day. It is important to understand the difference between these times because these provide different light intensities and different heat intensity sunlight.

Understanding the difference between these stages can ensure that we plant our tomato plants in the best spot where they can get enough direct sunlight, but they will be protected from the heat.

1.      Morning Sunlight

Morning sunlight has the highest UV intensity that is needed for the process of photosynthesis. This stage of the sunlight also provides less heat.

2.      Midday Sunlight

Midday Sunlight is the hottest because the sun is in its highest position. This stage lasts from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

If you live in a hot climate where the midday temperatures can rise above 90°F/32°C then it is a good idea to provide some shade for your tomato plants during this period of time.

3.      Afternoon Sunlight

Afternoon sunlight occurs when the sun moves out from its overhead position and starting to set down. This also provides high UV radiation, hotter than the morning sunlight but it is cooler than the midday sunlight.

Wrap Up

Tomato plants grow fast and need a lot of energy for this. Tomato plants need full sun for at least 6 hours per day, otherwise, they will be less productive.

But remember, the full sun doesn’t mean very hot temperatures. However, the midday full sun can bring with it very high temperatures that can be damaging for your tomato plants.

To prevent sunscald, you can either plant them in the west or east-facing spot, so the plants can get the morning or afternoon sunlight, or you can provide some shade with sheets or other plants.


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