Growing cherry tomato plant

Growing Cherry Tomatoes

One of the joys of summer is standing in the garden eating sun-warmed cherry tomatoes right off the vine.

These succulent, bite-sized jewels concentrate all the flavor of a full sized tomato into a package that is less than 2” in diameter. They are sweeter, perfectly shaped, and have thinner skin than regular tomatoes.

Though highly addictive, cherry tomatoes are good for you—rich in calcium, iron, lycopene, and vitamins A & C. Easy to grow, many cherry tomato plants have a built-in resistance to some of the diseases that will kill a regular tomato plant. They are strong, fast growing, prolific plants and some will begin to fruit in less than 60 days from transplanting.

Cherry tomatoes comes in a wide range of colors!

Growing Cherry Tomatoes in Containers

If you don’t have a garden, try growing a cherry tomato plant in a pot. There are several varieties bred specifically for container growing.

  • We have tried ‘Terenzo’, ‘Lizzano’, and ‘Tumbling Tom’. All of them form bushy, compact plants that adapt to life in a large nursery pot or hanging basket and bear lots of small but tasty cherry tomatoes.
  • A new one that I will be on the lookout for next year is ‘Rambling Rose’, a pink cherry tomato developed at the University of NH specifically for growing in containers.

Regular cherry tomato plants can also be grown in containers, they just need more room. A 5-gallon bucket (with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage) will hold one plant. Grow it near a porch or up a trellis to keep the plants off the ground.

Most cherry tomatoes are indeterminates, meaning they will keep on growing, flowering, and bearing fruit until frost kills them.

Supporting Cherry Tomato Vines

They are vines and can get to be quite tall so they need to be supported. Forget about an ordinary tomato cage, they will outgrow it in no time. You’ll have to get creative.

We grow ours in the ground and put rebar at the ends of the rows and at every sixth plants or so. As the plants grow, I weave baling twine around the plants and the rebar stakes, wattle-weave fashion. It forms a living fence of tomato plants known as a Florida weave. I go as high as I can reach and then the plant are on their own. I can’t lug a ladder out to the garden every time I want to pick some tomatoes! We have plants that topped a seven foot tall fence and continued growing back down the other side!

Best Varieties of Cherry Tomatoes

There are lots of varieties to choose from. A few of our favorite cherry tomatoes are:

  • ‘Sungold’ plants grow quite large and are one of the first to bear fruit in our garden. They continues to bear heavily until frost. These bite-sized golden beauties are the most delicious thing you can imagine. The only problem with ‘Sungold” is that their thin skin has a tendency to crack.

  • ‘Sun Sugar’ looks and tastes just like ‘Sungold’ but the fruits don’t split as easily.
  • “Isis Candy’ has fruits that are marbled with red and gold and are very flavorful.

  • ‘Chadwick’ and ‘Fox’ are both heirloom red cherry tomatoes that have tangy true tomato flavor and are vigorous growers.
  • ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Black’ are two dark-skinned cherry varieties that have the rich flavor found in some of the black slicing tomatoes. They add a unique color to a salad.
  • ‘Sweet Treats’ has phenominal flavor and is a deep ruby red color. It is resistant to many diseases.
  • ‘Honeydrop’ has amber-colored fruit that lives up to its name. They are sweet as a drop of honey.

If you grow nothing else this summer, treat yourself to one cherry tomato plant and savor their flavor.

Cherry Tomatoes

Of all the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes are the most fun. These little snacking tomatoes are easy to grow, productive, and delicious.

There are dozens of different cherry tomatoes — heirlooms and prolific hybrids, and red, white, orange, striped, and almost-black varieties. Some grow in clusters, like grapes, and some produce rows of pretty, bite-sized fruits along dangling stems. Most cherry tomatoes grow on lanky, indeterminate plants that like to sprawl, but tidy determinate cultivars are well-behaved enough for a pot on the patio. Everyone has their favorites.

Doug Oster, author of Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil, says ‘Sun Gold’, a flashy, golden orange cherry tomato, is the most important tomato in his garden in Pittsburgh. “That’s because it’s my wife’s tomato,” he says, but he loves it, too, because it bears fruit early, doesn’t mind scorching summer heat, and will not fail if the season is too wet. ‘Sun Gold’ is prolific and sweet, he says, “but it has that tomato taste in it. They really have that zing of a tomato.”

Oster grows dozens of tomatoes of every size and description, and he doesn’t pamper any of them. He plants his tomato crop in raised beds topped up with lots of compost, setting plants about three feet apart. It’s “too close together” he says, but it works just right for his tomato cages, which are three feet across. He likes to plant early in the season, but ‘Sun Gold’, in particular, will flourish even if it is planted a month into the summer. “They hit the ground running,” he says.

Cherry tomatoes seem less susceptible to blossom-end rot than full-sized tomatoes, and they are forgiving plants that keep right on producing even if you neglect the fertilizer and forget to stake them. They are so prolific that you can eat all you want in the garden and still walk into the house with a bowlful for a salad. A stem of cherry tomatoes is pretty in a flower arrangement, too: Constance Spry, the great English flower arranger, was known for picking a long, graceful cluster of cherry tomatoes to drape over the edge of vase full of summer flowers. It sounds like just the thing for a summer cocktail party.

Cherry tomatoes are one of the most popular of salad garnishments and are also handy for tossing into wrapped sandwiches or as just a snack. They are small, tasty, and easy to grow indoors or out. Here are the basics of what you need to know about growing cherry tomoates.

Growing Conditions for Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes, like most other tomato varieties, require direct sunlight (outdoors or in a window) and warm temperatures (70F or higher is best). They also require nutrient-rich soil, plenty of water, and some care. If you can meet the heat and light requirements, have access to good potting soil, and remember to water them often, you can easily grow cherry tomatoes.

How to Plant Cherry Tomatoes

When planting outdoors, cherry tomatoes should be planted in small groups (3-4 seeds per hole) at about three feet apart. When the sprouts come through the soil, thin the plants to one per position and when the plants get a few inches high, add a stake or training trellis to keep them upright.

If growing indoors, you’ll want to use the same planting method in pots about the size of a large coffee can (roughly a gallon). Tomatoes have fairly deep roots and need a lot of nutrition, so you’ll need enough soil to support that. Your tomatoes will need to be grown in direct sunlight once the sprouts appear and will require watering every other day once the plant is established. Again, supports or tomato cages will be needed.

Care of Cherry Tomatoes

Once the plants establish, care will mostly involve watering and adjusting the plants occasionally on their supports. Felt or other gardener’s ties to attach the plants to poles are most common and will need to be undone and re-attached as the plant grows through them. Most tomato varieties are fairly viney can be trained onto wire trellises as well.

Most cherry tomato plants are bushes and are meant to trail along the ground in nature (hence the supports). This means they’ll be top-heavy, so plan to not only provide support, but also to spend a little time trimming as the plant grows. Lower stems on the plant should be pinched or cut back to keep them from spreading and wasting plant energy. Upper branches will likely produce fruit on every other stem, but do not pinch or cut back the non-bearing limbs as they will contain the leaves needed to catch sunlight to grow the tomatoes.

Cherry Tomatoes Pests and Diseases

Most common tomato pests will also attack cherry tomato plants. They are also more susceptible to birds, who sometimes find the red cherries irresistible. Many growers spray their tomato plants liberally with soap-based insecticides (which are biodegradable and non-toxic) to keep mites, caterpillars, and other pests at bay.

Indoor growers will have few enemies to contend with, though over-watering or too-humid air could lead to mold on the undersides of leaves. This can be easily avoided by being careful about watering.

Harvesting Cherry Tomatoes

Tomatoes will begin to ripen after about two to three months, depending on growing conditions. They can be picked when they are almost entirely red and will not likely all ripen at the same time on all plants. Often, you can harvest two or even three times from one plant over a four month period.

Harvest the cherries by grasping them just above the stem where it enters the tomato and pushing upwards, at an angle from the stem. A natural break point is present, just as on full-sized tomatoes, and will snap off keeping the stem intact to the fruit. Cherry tomatoes should be handled gently.

Choosing Cherry Tomato Varieties

Best Cherry Tomato Varieties for the Garden
Nearly any type of cherry tomato variety is good for the garden. Be leery of those made for indoor growth, however, as they may not be as hardy in the rigors of outdoor life. Sun gold is probably the most common outdoor variety grown.

Best Varieties for Container Gardens
Any cherry tomato can be grown indoors. The most popular is the Sweet hundred variety, especially amongst hydroponics growers and others who don’t mind the wide bush this plant can become.

Want to learn more about growing cherry tomatoes?

Check out these sites for more information:
Mild Peppers and Unique Cherry Tomatoes. Video from Clemson University.
Cherry Tomatoes from Sacramento County Cooperative Extension.
Tomato Growing Tips site devoted to growing tomatoes at home.

The black cherry tomato, developed in Florida, is a favorite bite-size tomato.

In about 64 days, the black cherry tomato plant will provide you with an abundance of slightly sweet round, dark, rich fruit — each approximately 1.5 inches in diameter — for your salads and barbecues.

Although the fruit is small, the black cherry tomato is an indeterminate type tomato. Be sure to use tall sturdy cages.

Listed as a superfood, this tomato is packed with the antioxidant vitamins A and C, potassium, B vitamins and lycopene — the phytonutrient that is responsible for the bright red color of tomatoes. When tomatoes are cooked, even more lycopene is made available.

All tomatoes need sun and well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with compost or other organic matter before planting.

Plant deeply, burying two-thirds of the stem, about 36 inches apart. Pinch off lower leaves and set the plant in the ground at an angle so that the stem is horizontal underground but upright the above ground.

As with all tomatoes, keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season and use a tomato fertilizer regularly. Moisture is critical to prevent cracked fruits and blossom-end rot.

Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation. Watch out for tomato hornworms and slugs.

Ripe tomatoes will show color but are firm when gently squeezed. Tomatoes continue to ripen after being picked. Store picked tomatoes at room temperature indoors and never refrigerate them. Temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit will cause flavor compounds to break down.

Tomatoes will last longer if you allow stems and caps to remain in place until you’re ready to eat the tomatoes. Use within a week or so for peak flavor and nutrition.

For information, call 909-798-9384.

Source: Joyce Dean, a member of the Garden and Floral Arrangers Guild


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Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes With Great Taste

I have noticed that heirloom cherry tomatoes not as popular as beefsteaks and slicers. I am not sure why, but this may be due to the misconception that cherry tomatoes are for snacking and salads only. If my suspicion is true, I am here to say that nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, I have used cherry tomatoes to make some really great sauce, pickles, stews and especially as dehydrates for tomato powder or flakes and even jams and jellies. In addition, there are other advantages to growing cherries. One is earliness. Most cherries will ripen earlier than beefsteaks or slicers. This allows us the opportunity to make great, fresh tomato dishes earlier in the season while we wait for the bigger fruits to ripen. Now that I have stated my case, here are a few heirloom cherry tomatoes with great taste. If you haven’t already done so, I hope you will consider trying some.

Chocolate Cherry Tomato

If you have never tasted a really good heirloom or open pollinated cherry tomato, Chocolate cherry would be a great way to start. Sweet and tart with a great burst of tomato flavor, this dark beauty should be a must in every garden. In addition, vines are very prolific and show great disease resistance.

Snow White Cherry Tomato

Don’t let the color of this tender white beauty fool you. I promise you, that you’ll be surprised with your very first bite. Perfect for snacking, salads and more, Snow White Cherry tomato is fruity, intense and satisfying. They you can literally do anything tomato with this one. Not to be over-looked!

Pink Bumblebee Tomato

Pink Bumblebee tomato is another one of my favorite cherries. I love everything about this tomato. Production is high, fruits are beautiful, taste is tremendous and more like a tropical fruit, shelf life is good and disease resistance is there too. It’s also one of my go-to market sales varieties. I highly depend on Pink Bumblebee for the success of our daily tomato dealings here.

Black Cherry Tomato

Black Cherry tomato is a bigger version of Chocolate Cherry. Some say it’s better, while others say it’s more dependable. I think they are different but alike in some ways too. Fruits are intense and juicy. Plants are prolific, hardy and dependable. Sweet and fruity with great tomato flavor. This one will reel you in!!

Sandy’s Sweet Cherry Tomato

A new discovery for me in 2017, Sandy’s Sweet Cherry will blow you away. This tomato is so good that it’s now on my favorite cherry list. Firm and meaty fruits explode in a rush of fruity, sweet juice that will keep you eating and eating. Great selection for market sales, jams, jellies, salads and literally anything tomato. Please don’t plant just one vine!

So there you have it. 5 of my favorite heirloom cherry tomatoes with great taste. Each one of these iw versatile in their own way and any of these can easily be the one that easily pulls your tomato garden together. Enjoy!

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