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14 Tomato Plants To Try This Summer

These tomato plants range from heirloom to grape and early to late!

Tomatoes have been one of the most widely grown and favorite summer plants for a long time.

And if they aren't the number one favorite, then they are at least in the top five, because even people who have little to no space always manage to find a nook to plant at least one tomato for the summer.

Also, if judging by numbers is any indication of favoritism, then the thousands of tomato varieties to choose from all over the world makes this plant a top pick for gardeners everywhere.

It's staggering to see the enormous selection and diversity of tomato plants that are available, and it makes it hard to figure out what you may or may not want to grow in your garden.

So the purpose of this story is to pick a few tomato varieties out of the thousands available in order to help you choose some different tomatoes to grow and taste. What we came up with range from heirloom to hybrids and can fit into a short growing season or a long one.

The following tomatoes offer a solid selection of each type of tomato, and you can try them all, or just augment your regular favorites with a few different selections - so let's take a look at something unique and special for you and your taste buds to try out this summer.

How fun is that?

Basic Tomato Care

Actually this story is more about something different for you to try in your garden, but not to worry, we would never leave you without growing tips!

For an in-depth and step-by-step tomato growing guide please read our: Growing Tomatoes & Tomato Growing Tips

It's our comprehensive and complete guide on how to start, grow, care for, and harvest tomatoes. It also has pictures of common diseases and pests and solutions on how to treat them.

How The Following Tomatoes Are Organized

The following 14 tomatoes are both heirlooms and hybrids and they are listed in the order of days to maturity.

The fewer the days to maturity the better the tomato is for gardeners who live in areas with short growing season or very cool summers.

Note: For early maturing tomatoes choose varieties with 65 days or less days to maturity.

Note: "Days to maturity" simply means the number of days it takes to produce ripe fruit from the time the plants are put into the ground.

Note: For gardeners in cool summer areas, give tomato plants added warmth and protection early in the season. Place your plants in an area sheltered from the wind or wrap plastic around plants in tomato cages to keep heat in.

Tomato Terminology

Hybrid Tomato: Crossing specific parent plants by means of controlled pollination produces a hybrid seed (plant). Hybrid seeds are often called " F1" or " F1 hybrids." The extra vitality in hybrid plants is called " hybrid vigor."

The primary disadvantage of hybrids is the seeds cannot be saved from year to year. Seeds saved from hybrid plants usually will not produce the same plant the following year because most varieties are not self-sustaining.

Heirloom / Open Pollinated / Standard Tomato: Heirloom, also known as open pollinated or standard, are plant varieties that have stable traits from one generation to the next. Open pollinated plants are fairly similar to each other but not as uniform as hybrids.

Because most were originally chosen for only one or two specific characteristics, individual plants of older heirloom varieties may differ greatly in size, shape, or other traits. The advantage of open pollinated seeds is that the home gardener from year to year and generation to generation may continue heirloom plants by careful seed saving.

1. 'Siberian' - 48 days

Type: Small to Medium / Heirloom

Description: 'Siberian' produces clusters of small, bright red fruit about 3 to 5 ounces (85 to 142 g) each. Plants will set fruit even in low temperatures of 40 ° F (4 ° C). This is a good variety to grow while you are waiting for later varieties to mature.

Vines: Determinate

Uses: Perfect for containers and smaller gardens.

Tomato 'Siberian'

2. Red 'Stupice' - 52 days

Type: Small / Heirloom

Description: A favorite, reliable heirloom from Czechoslovakia 'Stupice' is cold tolerant and produces high yields of 1 to 2 ounce (28 to 57 g) sweet, round, red fruit. This variety has become a garden favorite for its earliness, productivity, and truly wonderful taste.

Vines: Indeterminate

Uses: Great for snacks and salads.

Tomato Red 'Stupice'

3. 'Red Robin' - 60 days

Type: Cherry / Hybrid

Description: Dwarf variety 'Red Robin' overflows containers with loads of 1 inch (2.5 cm) round cherry fruits bursting with extra sweet flavor. Excellent for smaller gardens since compact plants require no staking.

Vines: Determinate

Uses: Container plantings, hanging baskets, or in a window box.

Tomato 'Red Robin'

4. 'Sprite' - 60 days

Type: Grape / Heirloom

Description: This early heirloom is a great choice for smaller gardens, bearing clusters of luscious, red grape tomatoes on compact, bushy plants. If you love grape tomatoes, but don't have the space for supports to grow tall plants, 'Sprite' offers a wonderful alternative. There is no sacrifice in fruit quality, size, productivity, or flavor - just shorter plants for smaller gardens. The small red oval grape tomatoes are borne in amazingly large numbers on more compact plants. Their taste is refreshingly sweet and skins are thin and crisp, just like the original grape tomatoes

Vines: Determinate.

Uses: Refreshingly sweet, with crisp, thin skins; perfect bite-sized treats.

Tomato 'Sprite'

5. 'New Yorker' - 65 days

Type: Beefsteak / Heirloom

Description: One of the earliest bush varieties, 'New Yorker' has high yields of delicious scarlet-red 4 to 6 ounce (113 to 170 g), meaty beefsteaks. Resistant to splitting and blossom end rot. Tomato plant sets fruit well in cooler growing conditions.

Vines: Determinate

Uses: A good choice for small gardens, patio areas, and containers. A fine canning tomato or slicing up into salads.

Tomato 'New Yorker'

6 'Big Bite' - 75 days

Type: Red Beefsteak / Hybrid

Description: Early, red fruit has true tomato flavor that is a perfect balance of sweet and acid. 'Big Bite' produces a bountiful crop of juicy, 14 ounce (397 g) beefsteaks all season long. Disease resistant.

Vines: Indeterminate

Uses: Good slicing tomato.

Tomato 'Big Bite'

7. 'Speckled Roman' - 75 days

Type: Paste / Heirloom

Description: Paste tomatoes tend to have more sugar, pectin, and acids and have less water than other varieties giving them intense, bold flavor. This tomato is bi-colored with orangey red with yellow wave embellishments. It has 4 to 6 ounce (113 to 170 g) elongated, plum-shaped fruits with excellent flavor, is meaty with few seeds, and pretty enough to stuff for hors d'oeuvres.

Vines: Indeterminate

Uses: Great for fresh salsa, sauce or paste, roasting, pureeing and fresh eating.

Tomato 'Speckled Roman'

8. 'Costoluto Genovese' - 78 days

Type: Paste / Heirloom

Description: Large, 6 to 8 ounce (170 to 227 g) fruit. A deeply ribbed exterior goes back to tomatoes of old and presents a beautiful scalloped edge when sliced. Deep red fruits of 'Costoluto Genovese' ripen on vines that do well in hot weather while continuing into cooler temperatures late in the season. Throngs of cooks constantly rank this Italian heirloom as one of the best in taste tests.

Vines: Indeterminate

Uses: Intense and acidic flavor that is ideal for sandwiches, salads, sauces or pastes.

Tomato 'Costoluto Genovese'

9. 'Jaune Flammee' - 80 days

Type: Small / Heirloom

Description: A beautiful heirloom variety from France, 'Jaune Flammee' is a tender, sweet salad tomato. Two-bite-sized, the 2 to 3 ounce (57 to 85 g) apricot-shaped fruit has orange skin, reddish flesh, and a fruitier taste than cherry tomatoes. High yielding, its fruits are borne in clusters.

Vines: Indeterminate

Uses: Salads, slicing, fresh eating

Tomato 'Jaune Flammee'

10. 'Pierce's Pride' - 85 days

Type: Medium-Large / Heirloom

Description: Deep, black-red in color, 'Pierce's Pride' is an heirloom with classic tomato taste. It is a copious producer of delicious, medium-large fruits.

Vines: Indeterminate

Uses: Great for slicing

Tomato 'Pierce's Pride'

11. 'Dawson's Black Zebra' - 85 days

Type: Medium / Heirloom

Description: This deep burgundy tomato has jagged green stripes on the outside and solid mahogany-colored flesh inside. Sweet and juicy, with hints of smoke, its flavor also carries the rich complexity associated with black tomatoes. This is a natural and stabilized cross between a black tomato and Green Zebra. Vigorous plants produce an abundance of 3 to 4 ounce (85 to 113 g) tomatoes.

Vines: Indeterminate

Uses: Slicing, fresh eating.

Tomato 'Dawson's
Black Zebra'

12. 'Long Tom' - 90 days

Type: Paste / Heirloom

Description: 'Long Tom' is a popular heirloom with delicious, old-fashioned, tomato flavor. The fruits are meaty with few seeds. A strong vine this variety yields superior crops of barrel-shaped, 5 inch (12.5 cm) fruit. This is a late variety that is worth the wait.

Vines: Indeterminate

Uses: Salads or sauces.

Tomato 'Long Tom'

13. 'Gold Medal Yellow' - 90 days

Type: Beefsteak / Heirloom

Description: Produces pale-yellow, 3 inch (7.5 cm) beefsteak fruits that are slightly fluted. Great taste - fantastic!!

Vines: Indeterminate

Uses: Good for slicing.

Tomato 'Gold Medal Yellow'

14. 'Old-Timey Yellow' - 95 days

Type: Beefsteak / Heirloom

Description: A rarely-seen heirloom, 'Old-Timey Yellow' produces good crops of large, up to 24 ounce (680 g) tasty, tangy, golden orange tomatoes.

Vines: Indeterminate

Uses: Great for slicing and fresh eating.

Tomato 'Old-Timey Yellow'


Now if after reading this you may be wondering, "Where can I get some of these tomatoes?" The answer is the internet!

Unfortunately most local garden centers don't carry or have enough demand to stock these types of tomatoes. But luckily, on the internet, there are several growers that carry and ship not only the tomato seeds, but tomato seedlings.

Just go to Google or Yahoo, or your favorite search engine, and type in the tomato variety you are looking for. Several growers will come up, some even may be local to you, and you can choose from there.

Even is selling tomato plants and seeds these days, so it's really easy to find what you want and you'll be growing your tomatoes in just a few days since most growers offer loads of shipping options from 2-day service to overnight express.

So be bold and try some different tomatoes this year - you won't be disappointed!

The writer is a member of the National Garden Writers Association, a nationally published writer, and a certified organic grower. She regularly speaks and writes about all gardening related topics, with an emphasis on making gardening a successful and enjoyable process for anyone who wants to learn. Weekend Gardener Monthly Web Magazine concentrates of giving detailed gardening tips and gardening advice to all levels of gardeners.

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