Recommended Tomato VarietiesGrowing Vegetables Last Updated On 03/11/2021
Tomatoes are the most popular vegetables grown in the gardens across the US and around the world. There are many reasons why tomatoes are so popular among home gardeners. It's interesting to note that for many years, tomatoes (then known as "love apples") were considered poisonous so they were grown only for their ornamental value.
It's important to know that tomatoes are relatively easy to grow and they save a lot of money if you grow it in your own garden instead to buy them at a grocery store. They are also very tasty and rich in nutrients, so even a few plants can provide enough fruit for the whole family.
The biggest advantage, however, is that growing tomatoes in your own garden ensures a steady supply of fresh, natural and healthy tomatoes for your family. Homegrown tomatoes are simply better and healthier than anything you can find at a grocery store.
One thing you need to understand about tomatoes is that there are virtually hundreds of varieties to choose from. There are tomatoes in all shapes, sizes, colors and plant types. There are so many tomato varieties that beginners find them confusing. This is why The University of Illinois Extension has made a handy chart listing all the tomato varieties. This chart can help you decide on the best tomato variety for your garden. You can pick a variety based on your individual needs and preferences, such as size, climate requirements, taste and other factors.
The tomato is a warm season perennial, know for its bright red, tender fruit. It's grown as an annual plant in summer gardens in the US and across the world. Cold weather and freezes in the spring and fall limit the outdoor growing season for these plants.
The tomato plant is a tender, warm-season perennial that is grown as an annual in summer gardens all over the continental United States. Spring and fall freezes limit the outdoor growing season.
The Best Varieties
In order to grow tomatoes successfully, it's important to choose the best variety. As noted above, these are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes available to home gardeners, so it really depends on factors such as your individual needs and preferences, as well as growing conditions factors area (space, weather).
Tomatoes are very varied. There are many different sizes, colors and plant types. You may even choose tomatoes based on disease resistance and season of maturity. There are many available catalogs you can find in garden centers, greenhouses or online to help you select the best tomato varieties.
Since there are so many varieties to choose from, it's not an easy choice to make, especially when it comes to 2-3 best ones. This is why you should do it carefully. Evaluate your needs and choose the varieties best suited for your intended growing method and intended use.
The first thing you need to know that there are two definite tomato types that affect the plant height and cultural requirements: determinate and indeterminate.
- Determinate tomatoes eventually form a flower cluster at the terminal growing point. It causes the plant to stop growing in the height.
- Indeterminate tomatoes never set terminal flower clusters, only lateral ones. It means that the plant continues to grow indefinitely and thus end up being taller than the determinate tomato varieties. As a general rule, older varieties are almost exclusively indeterminate.
There are many advantages and specifics coming from each of this type, so this is the first thing you need to choose when deciding on which tomato variety to grow. Indeterminate varieties usually produce abundant foliage and give flavorful fruit. On the other hand, these varieties can be very late in maturing.
Determinate varieties, on the other hand, tend to mature early. The first determinate varieties developed used to have problems with inadequate foliage cover and taste. However, these problems are largely eliminated with new determinate varieties. These new determinate varieties have a better foliage and grow taller than their ancestors and have a similar quality of fruit as the intermediate varieties. At the same time, they still ripen their fruit more quickly than indeterminate varieties. This is why many gardeners choose determinate varieties to keep the harvest coming through the entire growing season.
Another possible advantage to determinate varieties is that they are easier to control and support during the growing season. They also come in many interesting varieties. For example, some extreme dwarf types are both determinate and dwarf, which means they produce some very tiny mature plants.When deciding on the best variety for your garden, the time to mature is one of the most important factors. Known as "days to harvest", this time gives you an estimate on when you'll be able to harvest your tomatoes.
Generally speaking, day to harvest are determined from the time transplants are planted in the garden, to the day they are ready to be harvested. Based on this criteria, there are many different variety groups, often classified by color and plant size, such as:
- First-Early Red
- Medium-Early Red
- Main-Crop Red
- Extra-Large Red
- Yellow or Orange
- Red Paste Types
- Small Fruited/Salad Varieties
- Dwarf/Container Varieties
First Early Red (60 or fewer days to harvest)
These varieties are known for compact plant growth than the main season varieties. These tomatoes are known for sunburning during the hot weather, so it's one thing to keep in mind. The main crop varieties are typically superior for summer long harvest, so it's something you need to keep in mind.
On the other hand, first early varieties are ideal for northern areas. In these climate areas, the growing seasons are shorter, with cooler summers. The summer in these areas is not hot enough to cause tomatoes to sunburn. These varieties are known for their small to medium-sized, bright red fruit. They are usually not suitable for pruning, so it's another thing to keep in mind. The most popular varieties of this type are:
- Sub Arctic Plenty. They need 45 days to harvest. These varieties weight 3 to 4 ounces. Typically, the fruit is concentrated in center clusters. Determinate type.
- Early Cascade. They need 55 days to harvest. These tomatoes weight 4 ounces. This is as trailing plant and it produces large fruit clusters. Indeterminate type.
- Early Girl. It needs 54 days to harvest. These tomatoes weight 5 ounces. It's earliest full size tomato variety. Indeterminate type.
- Quick Pick. It takes 60 days to mature. These plants weight 4 ounces. They give round, smooth, heavy fruits. Indeterminate type.
Medium-Early Red (60 to 69 days to harvest)
These varieties are intermediate between very early types and the sounder plant types. They also have characteristics between the early types and the main crop types. Medium early varieties are where the real tomato harvest season begins. The most popular varieties include:
- Champion. This variety takes 65 days to harvest. It weights 10 ounces. This variety has solid, smooth, large fruit. Indeterminate type.
- Mountain Spring. It takes 65 days to mature. The fruit weights 9 ounces. They have globe, very smooth fruit. Determinate type.
Most of these varieties produce medium sized to large fruit. These main crop varieties have adequate foliage cover and are usually free from fruit cracking as well as some other deformities. They can be growing on mulch, on trellis or in wire cages. Also, many of them can be pruned and trained to stakes. These varieties make up the bulk of the main crop harvest. They have superior yield, a great staying power in the garden and their fruit is of the great quality. Some of the most popular varieties include:
- Celebrity. They take 70 days to harvest. These tomatoes weight 10 ounces. They produce large, productive fruits. Determinate type.
- Mountain Delight. This variety take 70 days to harvest. They weight 10 ounces. They have no green shoulders. Determinate type.
- Fantastic. These tomatoes take 70 days to harvest. They weight 9 ounces. They have deep globe, with high yield. Indeterminate type.
- Better Boy. It takes 72 days to harvest. They weight 12 ounces. They are easy-to-find plants. Indeterminate type.
- Mountain Pride. It takes 74 days to harvest. It weights 10 ounces. It has smooth, flat globe. Determinate type.
- Floramerica. This type takes 75 days to harvest. This tomato weights 12 ounces. This is All America Selection winner. It produces bright red fruit. Determinate type.
- Burpee's Big Girl. It takes 78 days to mature. It weights 16 ounces. This is crack-resistant plant with attractive fruit. Indeterminate type.
- Supersonic. This variety takes 79 days to mature. It weights 12 ounces. It is solid and crack resistant. Indeterminate type.
These varieties take relatively long time to mature and produce extremely large fruit. At the same time, the fruit can be misshapen, with rough scar tissue ("cat facing") the the blossom end. In many cases, this scar tissue must be cut away, so some of the benefits of growing extra large varieties is lost. On the other hand, these varieties are typically grown not because of the plentiful yield but for the novelty of having fruit of this huge size. There are also some of the new hybrid large types, such as Supersteakand Beefmasterhave, have fruit with more consistent shape. Some of the most popular varieties include:
- Delicious. It takes 77 days to harvest. It weights over 1 lb, with world record 7 lb. 12 oz.Indeterminate type.
- Supersteak. These tomatoes take 80 days to harvest. They weight 1 to 2 lb. These are extra meaty tomatoes. Indeterminate type.
- Beefmaster. It takes 81 days to mature. They weight 1 to 2 lb. They are very large. Indeterminate type.
Yellow or Orange Varieties
It's often believed that yellow and orange tomato varieties are significantly lover in acid content. However, this is not true. Yellow and orange varieties are equally safe to process or can. They often taste sweeter than the red varieties, because they have a higher sugar content. Modern varieties typically have a shorter maturity time and a better plant growth characteristics than the older yellow and orange varieties. The most popular varieties include:
- Mountain Gold. They take 70 days to harvest. They weight 8 ounces. This variety has deep tangerine orange color. Determinate type.
- Lemon Boy. It takes 72 days to mature. It weights 7 ounces. This variety has lemon yellow color and mild flavor. Indeterminate type.
- Jubilee. It takes 72 days to mature. It weights 8 ounces. This variety has deep orange-yellow color. Indeterminate type.
- Golden Boy. This variety takes 80 days to mature. It weights 8 ounces. It has deep golden fruit with few seeds. Indeterminate type.
These varieties are popular in certain regions. They are similar to yellow and orange tomato varieties when it comes to maturity and plant type. There are some recent varieties made to be disease-resistant and with very attractive fruit. However, some of the older types still tend to be better when it comes to eating quality. The most popular varieties include:
- Pink Girl. It takes 76 days to harvest. It weights 7 ounces. The fruit is smooth and crack resistant. Indeterminate type.
- Brandywine. This variety takes 80 days to mature. It weights 12 ounces. It produces large, rough fruit. It's heirloom variety with juicy fruit of great taste. Indeterminate type.
Other Colors and Types
There are some tomato varieties with odd color and types. They have been around for a long time and they are growing in popularity. Also, due to this rise in popularity, some almost forgotten tomato varieties have been "rediscovered". Some of the most popular odd color tomato varieties include:
- White Wonder. It takes 85 days to harvest. It weights 8 ounces. This variety has creamy white flesh and skin. Indeterminate type.
- Evergreen. This variety takes 85 days to harvest. It weights 8 ounces. It has green skin tinged with yellow. It's flesh bright green at maturity. Indeterminate type.
- Long Keeper. It takes 78 days to harvest. It weights 6 ounces. It has orange skin and orange-red flesh. The fruit is solid and can last for weeks. Indeterminate type.
- Yellow Stuffer. It takes 80 days to harvest. It weights 4 ounces. It's lobed, lemon yellow in color and shaped like pepper. It's also semi-hollow so it's easy to stuff. Indeterminate type.
Red Paste Types
Paste tomato varieties are typically used for making paste, sauces, catsup and for canning whole. They have a solid, meaty and low-moisture flesh, which makes processing these tomatoes easier. Some of them are even popular for eating fresh. Typically, these are short plant types and they tend to set up a large load of fruit in a short time. They ripen a large proportion of the fruit at once.
This is a bonus for paste tomatoes since processing is typically done in large lots. The most popular tomato varieties of this type include:
- Veeroma. This variety takes 72 days to harvest. It weights 2 to 3 ounces. This is early Roma type, with a deep square shape. Determinate type.
- Roma. It takes 75 days to harvest. It weights 2 ounces. It's fruit is standard red plum, tolerant to early blight. Determinate type.
- San Marzano. It takes 80 days to harvest. It weights 3 ounces. It's deep red, crack resistant, meaty and dry. Determinate type.
- Viva Italia. This variety takes 80 days to harvest. It weights 3 ounces. It's meaty, sweet and can be eaten fresh. Determinate type.
These varieties are know for their vigorous growing and are very productive. They can vary in size from 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. These varieties are usually suitable for pruning. These plants have a very high production, so picking all the fruit may become tedious. To speed up the harvesting process, whole clusters may sometimes be picked at once. These varieties are usually very sweet and tasty. The most popular varieties of this type include:
- Super Sweet 100. It takes 70 days to harvest. The fruit is red, cherry-sized. Indeterminate type.
- Sweet Million. It takes 65 days to harvest. It has red, sweet, crack resistant fruit. Indeterminate type.
- Yellow Pear. This variety takes 70 days to harvest. It produces clusters of yellow, pear-shaped fruit. Indeterminate type.
- Large Red Cherry. This variety takes 70 days to harvest. It has solid, deep red, tasty fruit. Indeterminate type.
- Mountain Belle. It takes 65 days to mature. It has red, crack resistant fruit. It ripens uniformly and holds on the vine. Determinate type.
These small fruit varieties are usually grown in containers, hanging baskets or in small gardens. Many of them are grown on patios. They are ideal for those who have only limited space. They also have a great ornamental value. These fruit come in red and some other colors. These varieties are not suitable for pruning (save for the new Husky hybrids). The most popular varieties include:
- Tiny Tim. It takes 45 days to harvest. It's an extremely dwarf variety, with red cherry fruit. Determinate type.
- Cherry Gold. It takes 45 days to harvest. This is the golden version of Tiny Tim. Determinate type.
- Red Robin. This variety takes 55 days to harvest. It's a super-dwarf plant and can grow about 6 inches in height. The fruit has mild taste. Determinate type.
- Yellow Canary. It takes 55 days to harvest. It's very similar to Red Robin, but has yellow fruit. Determinate type.
- Pixie Hybrid II. It takes 52 days to harvest. This is a compact dwarf plant. Determinate type.
- Patio Hybrid. It takes 65 days to harvest. It's a very strong dwarf plant with a relatively large fruit. It's an ideal container plant. Determinate type.
- Small Fry. This variety takes 72 days to harvest. It has bright red fruit. It's great for hanging baskets. Determinate type.
- Husky Red Hybrid. It takes 68 days to harvest. It's a dwarf plant with large fruit. It has extended harvest. Indeterminate type.
- Husky Gold Hybrid. It takes 70 days to harvest. It's the same plant types as Red and Pink, only with gold fruit. Indeterminate type.
- Husky Pink Hybrid. This variety takes 72 days to harvest. It has smooth pink fruit on same husky-type plant. Indeterminate type.
Photo credit: Laura Gilmore