The Buyers Guide to Choosing the Best Hydroponic System for Tomatoes

tomatoes hanging on tomato plant

Growing tomatoes is a favorite amongst indoor and outdoor gardeners. Not only are these fruits delicious and work well with hundreds of recipes, but they are also very productive, with one harvest averaging between 20 to 90 yields per plant. 

A hydroponic system is an excellent alternative if you dream of harvesting fresh and juicy tomatoes but don’t have the luxury of setting up a raised garden bed.

As a soilless cultivation method, you need the right system, water, nutrients, and grow lights. So, which hydroponic system is best for tomatoes? 

which hydroponic system is best for tomatoes

In this review round-up, you’ll discover the top hydroponic systems for tomatoes and a master gardener’s buying guide in choosing the best system for your needs.   

Buying A Hydroponic System for Tomatoes: What Should You Consider? 

Before we dive down to which hydroponic system is best for tomatoes, here are some key buying factors you should know. Of course, these are aside from the price tag. 

Type of Hydroponic System 

When shopping for a ready-made hydroponic system for tomatoes or other plants, you typically have two options – a drip system and an ebb and flow. These two have identical principles, except for how the nutrients are delivered to the plants. 

In a drip system, as its name suggests, the nutrients are slowly dripped to the roots. The excess water will then exit the overflow drain and back to the water tank. On the other hand, an ebb and flow temporarily flood the plant tray and then drains the liquid back to the water reservoir. 

You’ll also come across the deep water culture (DWC) system, in which the roots of the plants are submerged 24/7 in the water with nutrients. 

Grow Lights 

Whether traditional or soilless gardening, tomatoes need sunlight and a lot of it. They prefer full and direct sunlight for at least 6 hours each day. For indoor growing, you should place them in a sunny south-facing window. If you don’t have a bright spot in your home, you should add grow lights. Most hydroponic systems already have artificial lights included.

Extra Built-in Features 

On top of the water reservoir, pump, grow lights, and drain lines, many modern and ready-to-use hydroponic systems are equipped with the latest tech to make hydroponic tomato growing easier and more convenient, even for those with a black thumb. 

These features can include WiFi connectivity, low power mode, grow light schedule, automatic timer, etc. Of course, having these extra perks will significantly increase the system’s price tag. However, paying extra is definitely worth it if you are still getting the hang of how hydroponics work. 

Master Gardener’s Tip:  In addition to these hydroponic system buying factors, you should always ensure that you are mimicking tomatoes’ ideal growing conditions, including temperature and humidity.  

Tomato Variety 

Another thing to consider when shopping for a hydroponic system for tomatoes is the variety.

Determinate tomatoes like the petite cherry tomatoes will only grow at a certain height and have a shorter fruit period. On the other hand, indeterminate tomatoes like Sungold will flower, fruit, and grow their vines throughout their entire growing season. So, this tomato variety requires you to either cage or prune them.  

How is this related to choosing a hydroponic system for tomatoes? 

Since tomatoes can reach heights between one to 3 meters, pruning is unavoidable, especially if you get a hydroponic system with a grow light arm limiting or obstructing the available vertical space. If you have a limited budget or want to avoid pruning, you should consider getting a micro tom or other determinate tomatoes.

6 Best Hydroponic Systems for Tomatoes 

Finding which hydroponic system is best for tomatoes can be an eternal journey of browsing through different stores, reading articles, and asking for recommendations. Well, that confusion ends here. We’ve collated the best hydroponic systems based on five factors – price point, ease of use, durability, features, and most importantly, how suitable they are for tomato growing.  

iDOO WiFi Hydroponics Growing System

This hydroponic growing system from iDOO is a game-changer. 

Hydroponic gardening is generally more convenient than traditional soil-based gardening, but iDOO pushed it even further by offering you a hydroponic growing system that you can effortlessly control and monitor whenever and wherever you are. 

Unlike other hydroponic systems, this particular iDOO model is wifi-ready, which means more opportunities for you to provide the growing needs and care requirements as your tomato seeds germinate and mature into an adult.  

In the buying guide section, we’ve mentioned that tomatoes love sunlight. And with this hydroponic growing system from iDOO, you can meet your tomato plant’s sun requirements even without a bright, south-facing window. 

From the app, you can set when the full-spectrum LED light turns on and off and for how long. 

iDOO also included control over the water pump settings, so you can move the water and nutrients based on the growing stage of your tomatoes. This feature is extremely beneficial since nutrient burn can occur when overfeeding.

Aside from being WiFi-ready, this hydroponic system has a lot of other tricks under its sleeves, including a large 6.5L water reservoir that can last up to 3 weeks and a low water level indicator. A filling port with a grey plastic cap is available at the top for effortless water and nutrient top-ups. 

The downside of this hydroponic growing system is you have limited vertical space to let your tomato plants fully grow – the grow light arm only extends up to 14.5”.

Idoo Wifi 12 Pod Hydroponic Growing System

Unlike other hydroponic systems, this particular iDOO model is wifi-ready, which means more opportunities for you to provide the growing needs and care requirements as your tomato seeds germinate and mature into an adult.  

 


AeroGarden Farm 24XL

AeroGarden’s Farm 24XL costs six times more than the iDOO WiFi system, but it is worth the investment when you are looking to grow other taller vegetables and flowers inside your home. 

Unlike the iDOO, the grow light arm of the Farm24XL extends to 36 inches – that’s two and a half more! But that’s not all. 

There are two grow light arms that you can independently control. It may not be as groundbreaking as iDOO’s wifi-ready system, but you’ll appreciate this feature when you want to grow two different plants at the same time. That means you can have a tomato plant on the right and a small herb or flower on the left. 

Don’t worry about the nutrients mixing because you’ll also get two gardens with their own water reservoir. 

If it feels like it’s still not worth the money, the AeroGarden Farm 24XL comes with high-tech features such as grow lights that you can dim or increase the brightness, a touch-control panel system, vacation mode, and a plant food reminder. It is also WiFi and Alexa ready. 

As expected, the Farm24XL is not a hydroponic system made to be placed on a countertop. Given that it can hold 24 plants and comes with two gardens and grow lights, you will most likely put it on the floor. 

AeroGarden Farm 24XL

This is a much bigger price, but it is worth the investment when you are looking to grow other taller vegetables and flowers inside your home. 


eSuperegrow Hydroponics Growing System 

Which hydroponic system is best for tomatoes if you have limited floor space but don’t want to prune? eSuperegrow’s Hydroponics Growing System is a wonderful choice. 

This no-fuss hydroponic growing system is not as small as the iDOO WiFi, but what you’ll get is a system that allows tomatoes to grow tall. This is because out of the hydroponic systems on our list, only the eSuperegrow has detachable climbing trellises to support your tomatoes as they grow. The trellis is also 60” high! 

As for its hydroponic system, it’s an ebb and flow system, wherein it floods the plant tray on top and drains the excess water back to the 7L reservoir. A water pump with sensor is included in the system to initiate the flood and drain process. 

If you hate removing the plant tray just to check the water levels, you’ll appreciate the eSuperegrow’s water level float and its smart reminder, which will turn red and emit a loud beeping noise when there is no water left in the tank. 

You can only grow three tomatoes at the same time. For some, this is a disadvantage, but fewer tomatoes to look after means you can attend to your plants more diligently, especially when you are a beginner gardener.  

The downside for us is the lack of grow lights. You can put the system on your patio or backyard or buy third-party grow lights. Alternatively, you can get the grow light version of this model at the expense of a shorter vertical height (you will only get 32”). 

eSupergrow Hydroponics Growing System

Out of the hydroponic systems on our list, only the eSupergrow has detachable climbing trellises to support your tomatoes as they grow. The trellis is 60” high.


VIVOSUN DWC Hydroponics Grow System

If you’ve been gardening for quite some time now, you’ve probably come across the brand VIVOSUN. This company is well-regarded for producing gardening-related products, including greenhouse garden kits, grow tents, and grow lights. Now, they’ve expanded to hydroponics as well. 

This hydroponic grow system is one of the most sought after, mainly because it cleverly combines deep water culture and a drip system. That means it provides water and nutrients to the roots and gently trickles from the top, resulting in better oxygenation and nutrient distribution. 

Each bucket has an external water level tube for easy monitoring. Although you can only plant one tomato plant per bucket, you’ll be happy to know that the 4”x8” grow baskets have a groove design to allow tomatoes’ roots to reach the water below. 

You should be aware of a couple of things when choosing the VIVOSUN for growing tomatoes. First, like eSuperegrow, it doesn’t have grow lights. Second, you’ll need to have your tomatoes’ roots established before transferring them to this system because the bucket is too deep.  

Vivosun DWC Hydroponic Grow System

This hydroponic grow system is one of the most sought after, mainly because it cleverly combines deep water culture and a drip system. 


Hydrofarm MegaGarden System

Hydrofarm’s MegaGarden System utilizes an ebb and flow system to deliver water, nutrients, and oxygen to your tomatoes. Instead of a bucket design, it opts for a square shape with a dedicated 8-gallon water reservoir, a grow tray, and 15 Hydrofarm planters. All of these components are made from plastic. 

So, how does it work? As explained earlier, an ebb and flow system floods the tray with water. In this Hydrofarm system, its flood-and-drain pump is responsible for delivering the water and nutrients to the tomatoes’ roots. To ensure that it doesn’t drown your plants and the liquid drains back to the reservoir, Hydrofarm also included a submersible timer, which has 12 flood settings. 

Another useful feature is the water indicator, which is conveniently located outside the tank reservoir. 

We also particularly like that you can easily and conveniently move the included planters outside so your tomatoes can get natural sunlight from time to time.

Maintenance is fairly easy. You don’t even have to touch the grow media. You just need to remove the planters from the tray, scrub the tray and reservoir, and put everything back together.   

Hydrofarm’s MegaGarden System is, overall, a great choice. We just wished the planters’ holes were a bit bigger. 

Hydrofarm MegaGarden System

The MegaGarden System is a great choice for a straightforward ebb and flow system.


iDOO 20 Pods Hydroponics Growing System 

Capping our review for the best hydroponic system for tomatoes is another product from iDOO. 

It may not have the high-tech features of the earlier mentioned iDOO model, but it certainly makes up for it by providing your tomatoes with a taller growing height (26.77”, to be more precise) and four gardens with five growing basket slots. You’ll also get a timer control for the grow lights. 

The four gardens, like the Hydrofarm, are removable from the system, so you can put your growing tomatoes outside or on a south-facing windowsill. 

Unfortunately, this iDOO model utilizes a Kratky method despite being a DWC system. This means it has no pump to move or aerate the water. The principle is you let your tomato plants naturally drink water. As they take more water, there will be an air gap between the roots and the nutrient solution. 

This method is not particularly bad. You just need to be more attentive to your tomatoes. 

Idoo 20-Pod Hydroponic Growing System

Providing a very tall 26″ clearance for your tomatoes, this is a great affordable choice.  


Plump and Juicy Tomatoes 

Harvesting pump and juicy tomatoes is finally within reach when you have the best hydroponic system to help you! If you are still undecided about which hydroponic system is best for tomatoes, always remember the four buying factors – the type of hydroponic system, grow lights, built-in features, and variety. And once you’ve narrowed down your choices, the next step is to grow tomatoes!