Big boy tomato facts

Better Boy Tomato Info – How To Grow A Better Boy Tomato Plant

Looking for a smooth skinned, flavorful tomato that thrives in most climates? Try growing Better Boy tomatoes. The following article contains all pertinent Better Boy tomato info including Better Boy growing requirements and about caring for Better Boy tomatoes.

Better Boy Tomato Info

Better Boy is a midseason, hybrid tomato that is extremely popular. The plants easily adapt to a variety of conditions and reliably produce fruit with classic tomato flavor. They mature in about 70-75 days, which makes them an excellent choice for a variety of USDA zones.

Better Boy tomatoes are resistant to both verticillium and fusarium wilt, a key to their popularity. Another good thing about

growing Better Boy tomatoes is their dense foliage. This heavy foliage protects the delicate fruit from sunscald.

Better Boy tomatoes are indeterminate, which means they should be grown in cages or staked tepee-style. Because of their large size, 5-8 feet (1.5-2.5 m.) in height, Better Boy tomatoes are not suited to containers.

How to Grow a Better Boy

Better Boy growing requirements are similar to those for other tomatoes. They prefer slightly acidic soil (pH of 6.5-7.0) in full sun. Plant Better Boy tomatoes after all danger of frost has passed for your area.

Start plants inside 6-8 weeks prior to planting outside. Place plants 36 inches (just under a meter) apart to allow for aeration, ease of harvest and to give the plants room to grow.

Caring for Better Boy Tomatoes

Although Better Boy tomatoes show disease resistance, it is best to rotate the crop.

Use stakes or other supports to hold the plants upright. Pinch off the early buds and shoots to encourage vigorous growth.

Add a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer or compost to the soil mid-season. Water consistently but do not over water. Consistent watering will minimize the incidence of fruit split and end rot.

Better Boy Tomato

Light requirements: Full sun.

Planting: Space 18 to 36 inches apart, depending on type. (Read the stick tag that comes with the plant for specific spacing recommendations.) Plant deeply, burying 2/3 of the stem.

Soil requirements: Tomatoes need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.2 to 6.8.

Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Moisture is critical to prevent cracked fruits and blossom end rot. Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation.

Frost-fighting plan: Tomato is a warm-weather crop—even a light frost will damage plants (28º F to 32º F). Protect newly planted seedlings by covering plants with a frost blanket.

Common issues: Pest-wise, watch out for tomato hornworms (big green caterpillars), slugs, pill bugs, rodents. In addition, humid weather invites fungal diseases like early blight and late blight. Plants may stop setting fruit when temperatures dip below 55˚ F or climb above 90˚ F. Blossom end rot can be a problem, as can misshapen fruit.

Harvesting: In general, perfectly ripe tomatoes show deep color but still feel firm when gently squeezed. Look up your specific variety for more details. Tomatoes do continue to ripen after being picked. Gently grab and twist until the tomato pulls free from the stem, or use a pair of clippers. Cut stems close to fruits.

Storage: Store picked tomatoes at room temperature indoors, or in a shady place outside. Never refrigerate tomatoes, because temperatures below 55° F cause flavor compounds to break down. Tomatoes will store longer if you allow stems and caps to remain in place until you’re ready to eat them. For peak flavor and nutrition, use within a week, although keeping time depends on how ripe fruit is when you pick it.

For more information, visit the Tomatoes page in our How to Grow section.


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Growing tomatoes at home is not difficult, but choosing the right varieties can be. Every year, we struggle to limit the types of tomatoes we grow, and every year we end up growing way too many.

Sometimes, we have thousands of tomato plants just because we can’t help ourselves! Obviously, we love to grow tomatoes. It’s a lot to manage, but we love tasting all the yummy fruit we get from them.

Five Tomato Varieties Better Than Better Boy

After growing thousands of tomatoes, we have picked some favorites for the beginner gardener who wants something different but doesn’t have the time or space to try out thousands of varieties.

There are many things to consider when choosing a tomato variety for your garden, but here are some great suggestions for tomatoes that are full of flavor and easy to grow.

Before you get going, you might want to read these 10 things about tomatoes every gardener needs to know and learn how to start your tomatoes from seed.

1. Riviera Cuore di Bue

If you grow tomatoes, you will want to have a large red slicer for sandwiches. Cuore di Bue means bull’s heart, and this bull’s heart tomato is aptly named. It’s a large tomato with lots of flavor. We like the Riviera strain, but it can be hard to find seeds for that particular variety. I’ve seen them most recently at Territorial Seed. But since these are heirloom tomatoes, make sure you’re saving seed for next year. I love this beautiful bulbous tomato for 3 reasons.

  • It is a beast of a tomato and produces like crazy.
  • It is a great multipurpose tomato for sauces and slicing.
  • Its mild but classic tomato flavor will satisfy all your tomato cravings.

Cuore di bue tomato plants produce tons of these fat bottomed tomatoes. But if you really need to have a red round tomato go with Mule Team. You’ll get tons of great red round tomatoes!

2. Aunt Ruby’s German Green:

If you aren’t growing a green when ripe tomato (abbreviated to GWR if you’re a tomato nerd) in your garden then you are missing out. GWR tomatoes can be hit or miss in the flavor department, but this is an excellent slicing tomato with outstanding flavor.

A green when ripe variety is one of the types of tomatoes to grow if you like to try new things. And we haven’t found a better GWR for our garden.

The flavor of Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomato is stronger than you might imagine. It is juicy, sweet, and tart. We love it sliced with a little salt and some fresh mozzarella and basil.

Too many tomatoes!

When you grow tomatoes, sometimes they all ripen at the same time. There are a few ways you can preserve tomatoes easily if you can’t eat them all before they go bad.

One of our favorite ways to eat fresh tomatoes is in a Caprese salad. We like to choose several types and colors of tomatoes to make a rainbow Caprese salad.

Slice your homegrown tomatoes and layer with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and homegrown basil. Drizzle with EVOO, Balsamic vinegar then salt and pepper to taste.

It’s an ahhhhmazing summertime side dish (or breakfast or lunch).

Fried green tomatoes?

When we talk about frying green tomatoes, we mean unripe green tomatoes. You don’t want to use ripe green tomato for frying. Any ripe tomato will get all mushy if you try to bread and fry it.

Aunt Ruby’s is a delicious fried tomato, but you must use a firm, unripe tomato to make fried green tomatoes.

3. Cherokee Purple

This is a great place to start if you’ve never tried a black or purple tomato.

Cherokee Purple is a classic heirloom tomato is a great easy to grow variety for the beginner. It grows happily here in the south and produces very well.

The large tomatoes are full flavored and delicious. It is a great variety to start with if you are just venturing out from the classic red store variety because the flavor will really knock you out.

4. Sun Gold

This is a sweet fruity cherry that your whole family will love.

Sun Gold is a hybrid F1 tomato. A hybrid tomato is not genetically engineered. It just a crossbred tomato. The F1 refers to the fact that it is a first generation tomato from a cross of two ‘parent’ tomatoes.

Click to buy Sun Gold tomato seeds at

This cherry is definitely worth growing every year in every garden.

The Sun Gold is a prolific orange cherry tomato that is so sweet kids will eat it like candy. You will love walking through your garden and munching these sweet babies right off the vine!

5. Maglia Rosa

Wherever we grow tomatoes, we always need a sweet salad and snacking tomato like Maglia Rosa.

Click to buy Maglia Rosa seeds at

Maglia Rosa is a wispy, long-leafed plant that makes these yummy pretty pointy tomatoes. It has a compact habit that grows well in containers and is a heavy producer.

You should pick and enjoy these tomatoes on the greener side of ripe. We love that the flavor really stands out even when cooked.

If you are like us, after your first season trying some new tomatoes, you are going to have a very difficult time narrowing down your grow list to only five varieties.

I’d love to hear your favorite tomatoes to grow.

Share your experience in the comments below.


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For more than 50 years, Better Boy Tomato has been a household name in the tomato patch.


Before you leave …

Get your free copy of “10 Must-Know Tomato Growing Tips.” This 20-page guide is filled with tips you need to know to have a successful tomato crop, whether you’re a beginning or experienced gardener.

In fact, more than 2,000 home gardeners named Better Boy one of the “Best Tomatoes to Grow” in a 2009 Mother Earth News poll.

There are several reasons why it’s become a classic.

Better Boy is one of the most trusted tomato varieties in terms of disease resistance and reliability.

Plus it’s widely adaptable, meaning it produces well in nearly any climate.

And it’s one of best tasting slicing tomatoes available.

“Better Boy” is synonymous with volume

But probably most of all, it’s known to be an incredibly prolific performer in the home garden. Better Boy plants yield LOTS of tomatoes. Champion home gardener Charles H. Wilber grew Better Boys to win the 1987 Guinness Book of World Records for the largest amount of tomatoes per plant – 342 pounds of fruit from just one Better Boy plant!

Where Better Boy came from

Better Boy was bred and marketed as an improved version of Big Boy, the first hybrid tomato marketed by W. Atlee Burpee Seed Company.

It’s a cross between Teddy Jones (a large, pink beefsteak from the midwest) and a red parent (which one is a corporate secret).

Seed industry tradition holds it that when breeder John Peto left Burpee in the 1940s-50s, he took Teddy Jones seeds with him. John formed Petoseed (now a subsidiary of Seminis Seeds) where Better Boy was bred.

Today, Better Boy is touted as Burpee’s best-selling tomato seed.

Special tips for growing Better Boys

  • The earliest fruit from Better Boys are often the biggest. But as indeterminates, Better Boys produce all season.
  • Better Boy plants grow about one inch a day.
  • Better Boys are climbers. Cage or stake plants to get biggest yield, especially in areas with longer growing season. They continue to grow until frost. (Check out different tomato cages to find the right ones for you and your garden.)

More about Better Boy seeds and plants. .

Better Boy Tomato


Type: Hybrid

Origin: USA

Days to maturity: 72-75 days

Season: Mid-season

Foliage/habit: dense; prevents sunscald

Fruit color: bright red

Fruit shape/size: globe, smooth, round, 8-16 ounces

Disease resistance: V (Verticillium Wilt), F (Fusarium Wilt), N (Nematodes); some seed companies offer Better Boy Tomato seeds also resistant to A (Alternaria) and St (Stemphylium – Gray Leaf Spot).

Yield: extremely high

Taste: succulent, juicy, meaty

Other notes: Better Boy is an outstanding slicing tomato and one of the most prolific producers in the tomato garden.

Return from Better Boy Tomato to Tomato Dirt home

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The 6 Most Popular Tomatoes

These six tomatoes are the most popular for all the right reasons. Five are hybrids that have proved themselves over several decades of growing seasons. The sixth, Cherokee Purple, is the only non-hybrid on the list. It is one of the most delicious open-pollinated heirloom tomatoes and a winning favorite at taste contests.

Better Boy Hybrid – This improved version of Big Boy is more resistant to common tomato diseases, but still has Big Boy’s extra-large fruit. Expect an abundant crop of deep red, 1-pound slicers that are ready to harvest in just 70 to 75 days. Produces high yields that mature mid-season and continue to produce until frost. It is an AAS All-America Selections winner as an outstanding tomato and one of the best performers in many climates. Better Boy Seeds

Big Beef Hybrid – This is the perfect variety to slice for your sandwiches and salads throughout the summer. This large red hybrid, is 4 to 6 inches in diameter, weighs up to 12 ounces, and is ready for harvest in 70 days. This variety has a long, bountiful harvest period and a nice sweet flavor. Noted for its firmness and resistance to splitting and disease, this is an ideal choice for a home gardener and for a beginner to growing tomatoes. It will produce reliably in cool and wet weather. Another AAS All-America Selections winner, confirming it as an outstanding variety. Big Beef Seeds

Bush Early Girl Hybrid – This hybrid tomato grows well both in the garden and in containers, making it ideal for gardeners with big plans but limited space. The plant is stronger than many other tomato varieties and produces a lot of leaves that shade the fruit and protect it from the sun as it ripens. It produces good early yields of 4 inch diameter tomatoes with excellent flavor in just 59 days. Its early fruit ripening make it a popular tomato with home gardeners. Bush Early Girl tomatoes are larger and more flavorful than Early Girl. Bush Early Girl Seeds

Celebrity Hybrid – A very dependable variety that produces fruit, with exceptional flavor, in just 65 days. The 8 oz. tomatoes are ideal for slicing, canning and sauces. This AAS All-America Selection winner has been a favorite with gardeners for decades. Its growth is semi-determinate, because it only grows to a certain height of 4 feet and then will produce fruit all season until frost. This plant has fantastic disease resistance and the fruit resists cracking. Celebrity Seeds

Super Sweet 100 Hybrid – These cherry-sized fruits are produced in long pendulous clusters right up until frost. It has improved disease fighting ability and is easily to grown on stakes or in tall cages. This improved variety has all the taste and bounty of Sweet 100, but more hardiness and less cracking. This cherry tomato is a well-established favorite, because of its very sweet taste and its perfect bite size. Large vines can grow to 8 feet. Super Sweet 100 Seeds

Cherokee Purple Heirloom – This heirloom tomato is grown for its superior flavor and large fruits, which span up to about 5 inches and mature in 75–90 days. Their excellent flavor is extremely sweet and complex, and the beautiful large 12 oz. fruits are the color of dusky rose and purple. Its history claims that it was grown by one family for over 100 years, and that the seeds were originally from Cherokee Indians. A few old seeds were found and it has been resurrected into a nationwide favorite. Cherokee Purple Seeds

All our seeds are Non-GMO, Organic-sourced, and Untreated.
Sandia Seed Company

The Better Boy is a hybrid tomato that is prized by home growers for its median maturity rate (70-75 days), and consistently excellent smooth-skinned fruits with a classic flavor. They are extremely popular thanks to their resistance to Verticillium and Fusarium Wilt. They are indeterminate and best-suited to cages or tepee-style staking.

Best Soil for Growing Better Boy Tomatoes

Any good tomato-growing soil is great for Better Boys. A good nutrient balance and slight acidity (pH of 6.5-7.0) is prime for these favorites. Although they are resistant to the more common wilting diseases, it’s still best to rotate Better Boy tomatoes as you would any other quality crop.

Proper Care of Better Boy Tomatoes

Better Boy hybrids are one of the more care-free of the tomato crops home gardeners enjoy. Plants should be put in the ground (or raised bed) when all danger of frost is past. They require about 72 days to bear ripe fruit, on average, so most areas will have plenty of growing season for these love apples. Give plenty of space for expansion – at least 36 inches between plants. They grow large under good conditions.

Use stakes, hoops or other supports to hold them upright and pinch off early buds and shoots to encourage plant growth for maximum yield. Add a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer or compost to the soil about halfway through the season. Water frequently, but do not drown the plants. Water is especially important once fruit has appeared in order to maximize growth and avoid splitting and end rot.

When to Harvest Better Boy Tomatoes

Harvest when the tomatoes are firm and round and a full red color. This will begin to happen at about the 70 day mark under good growing conditions, a little later if something has affected the plants. Most Better Boys are fully ripe by 80 days and nearly all yields will be complete by 90 days.

Better Boy Tomato Pests and Diseases

While Better Boys are generally disease resistant and will suffer little or no disease if properly rotated, they are susceptible to almost all predators. As with other tomato varieties, encourage beneficial insects such as ladybugs, dragon flies, and even birds.

Watering at ground level (drip or furrow) in the morning rather than evening will avoid many other problems.

How to Prepare Better Boy Tomatoes

Better Boy yields can be used for just about anything tomatoes are favored for. They are juicy, have few seeds, and if just ripe, they are crisp as well. Better Boys make great salad slices, sandwich tomatoes, sauces, salsas, stew additions, and more. Even green Better Boys are less bitter than most other varieties and make for good frying or pickling.

Tips for Growing Better Boy Tomatoes

The real secret to this favored hybrid is to start them from seed indoors and give 6-8 weeks to gain size and stamina before transplanting. Because of its size, Better Boy is not generally a good container tomato, but it is often a favorite porch-side and kitchen garden variety. They can be grown in large buckets (5 gallons) as well.

Soil nutrition is key to having great yields with these tomatoes. Be sure the soil is ready for the plants when you transplant and keep it nutritious by adding compost at least once (preferably twice) during the season.

Want to learn more about growing Better Boy tomatoes?

Check out these helpful websites about growing tomatoes.
Home Gardening Series: Growing Tomatoes by University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension
Growing Tomatoes by University of Illinois

Better Boy, One of the Best Tomatoes

Ahhh. Just the mere mention of a succulent, sweet, juicy, humongous Better Boy tomato will have gardeners licking their lips with anticipation and preparing their garden bed or containers for the day when they can finally begin the growing season and start producing this most popular of all tomato varieties. There are even backyard “tomato gardeners” that will grow nothing but the Better Boy tomato, their whole garden being a tribute to this one vegetable; this tomato is THAT good!

The Better Boy tomato is a hybrid indeterminate variety, which is a fancy name that means it is a cross between two other tomato plants and that it will produce tomatoes all season long. Hybrids are bred for qualities in the parent plants that are desirable, such as better disease resistance, color, meatiness, size and ease of growth. The Better Boy’s parents are the Big Boy and the Lemon Boy, both of which are still available and popular in their own right, but the Better Boy has surpassed both of them when it comes to popularity with both commercial and individual producers.

The Lemon Boy tomato is often advertised as an heirloom because of its unusual lemony color, but is actually an F-1 hybrid itself; the F-1 simply means it is resistant to Fusarium wilt, a very common tomato disease. It is a particularly meaty tomato with few seeds and has an exceptional flavor when compared to many bland tasting yellow varieties. Yellows also tend to be less acidic, which heart-burn and acid-reflux sufferers appreciate. Big Boy’s parentage, on the other hand, is a trade secret, as it has been for over 50 years. An Israeli vegetable breeder joined Burpee’s staff and produced a number of successful hybrid vegetables; his most significant being the Big Boy tomato in 1949. With a sweet, full flavor, this smooth, red-skinned fruit is also remarkably fragrant and can often weigh in at a pound or more. Being blessed with good disease resistance, it also has a bushy growth habit and is a strong grower. In fact, tomato connoisseurs often list it amongst the top five of their all time favorites.

So, now that you know where it came from, let’s look at the Better Boy’s qualities. First and foremost, Better Boy is resistant to Verticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt and nematodes, often annotated with the initials VFN either before or after the variety name. When it comes to tomatoes, it’s a good idea to know what the initials mean: V – Verticillium wilt, F – Fusarium wilt (F1, race 1; F2, race 2), N – nematode, T – tobacco mosaic virus, A – Alternaria alternata (crown wilt disease) and L – Septoria leafspot. Obviously, the more initials the better, but most will have 3 or less, with some having no special resistance at all; VFN are the most prolific diseases that you would like your tomatoes to be resistant to, but you can find more information about The 10 Most Common Tomato Plant Problems here.

Being an indeterminate variety, the Better Boy tomato plant will produce tomatoes all season long. In fact, the green tomatoes can be picked when the first frost is expected and allowed to ripen in a cool place in a brown paper bag. You really don’t want to let a single one of these juicy fruits go to waste. Determinate varieties, on the other hand, will form blossoms and then fruit, all at one time, and then quit producing. These varieties are most popular with people wanting to make tomato pastes, sauces, salsas, stewed tomatoes, etc. for canning. You can pretty much determine when the crop will be ready to harvest and process. Most serious gardeners will plant both the determinate and indeterminate varieties.

One or two plants will produce more than enough tomatoes for a family of 4, maybe allowing you to give away a few too. Plan accordingly. One of the biggest mistakes someone growing tomatoes for the first time will be planting way too many plants, which means some going to waste (which is a shame), the creation of more and more creative ways to use tomatoes, your first efforts at home canning, or really happy neighbors and coworkers who receive the extra tomatoes your family is tired of seeing by now. The other by-product of over planting is frustration.

Better Boys are meaty and have a superb flavor. They are large enough to make great sandwich slices and their smooth, red skin is a joy to see hanging from the branches. Most Better Boy tomatoes weigh in at around 8 to 12-ounces, sometimes more and tend to have fewer problems when it comes to cracking and splitting.

You can grow Better Boys just as you would any other tomato plant, but definitely be sure to provide supports for this precious plant. You don’t want these tomatoes hanging on the ground to be easy prey to critters or insects; their size and weight make that a real possibility.

We are quite sure that you will be just as enamored of the Better Boy tomato as are most tomato lovers! Enjoy!

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