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Gardeners agree: it’s hard to choose the easiest tomatoes to grow because most varieties are in the easygoing category.
That’s not to say that tomatoes present no challenges. If you’d like them to produce blossoms and fruit, they insist on sunlight. And boy, can tomatoes eat and drink! While you’re pumping compost and other organic goodies into the soil, you need to put them on a regular watering schedule. Plus, all that tomato goodness is not only attractive to humans, but also to plenty of pests and diseases – which can be controlled, of course, but requires monitoring.
But take there’s a reason why tomatoes are a favorite crop in 93% American gardening households. They're fun to grow. They’re forgiving. Here’s why.
Even with their easy-going reputation, it stands to reason that some tomatoes are easier to grow than others – especially with an estimated 25,000 tomato varieties in circulation. If you’re a beginning gardener, have limited experience, simply want minimal fuss in your vegetable beds, then consider why these types of tomatoes may be easiest for you.
Cherry tomatoes (like Sweet 100, Sungold, Tiny Tim)
Why they’re easy: cherry tomatoes are among the first varieties to produce. That gives beginners and young gardeners a sense of accomplishment. Plus, most cherry tomato plants are big producers throughout the season. Their smaller size means a sweeter flavor. And cherry tomatoes are perfect for snacking!
Determinate varieties (like Roma, Bush Early Girl, Celebrity)
Why they’re easy: determinate tomatoes are compact and bushy, making them ideal for smaller spaces or container gardening. Determinate varieties are more compact than other tomato varieties and have a controlled growth habit, making them easier to manage. Plus, their predictable harvest window allows you to pick most of the fruit in a short time rather than over weeks and months. Once plants finish fruiting, you can pull them out and plant a late season crop.
Container varieties (like Patio, Balcony, Tiny Tim)
Why they’re easy: container varieties are specifically bred to be grown in pots, which means they take up less space and are convenient for growers with limited garden space, balcony gardens, and patio gardens.
Early varieties (like Early Girl, Stupice, Sub-Arctic Plenty)
Why they’re easy: early varieties mature quickly. You see results sooner. Quicker maturity makes early varieties less fussy in harsher climates, Llike excess heat or early cold.
Heirloom varieties (like Brandywine, Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple)
Why they’re easy: while some heirlooms can be a bit finicky, each one has evolved to be well-adapted to its home climate. When you grow an heirloom tomato that has become a mainstay in your geographic area, then it thrives.
Hybrid varieties (like Early Girl, Better Boy, Big Beef)
Why they’re easy: hybrid tomatoes are bred for disease resistance, productivity, and other desirable traits. They stay in circulation because they are hardy and reliable, making them a good choice for beginners.
Tomatoes of all kinds are easy to grow from seed. In good conditions, they germinate in 5-10 days and put out their second set of leaves quickly. It’s fun to see results so fast, especially if you’re gardening with kids or if you’re dipping your toe into starting your own tomato seedlings for the first time.
Plus, commercial seed companies are required to have a 75% guaranteed germination rate. When you keep your tomato seeds in a warm area and misted well, you have a good chance of sprouting plenty of seedlings. Cherry tomato seeds, in particular, have an especially high germination rate, and their small size makes them easy to manage.
While heirloom tomatoes may have specific growing requirements, several varieties are considered relatively easy to grow, including …
Brandywine (Pink or Red)
This classic heirloom tomato with large, beefsteak-type fruits may take a bit longer to mature, but its rich, sweet flavor is often worth the wait.
Black Krim is a dark, slightly purplish heirloom tomato with a distinctive, complex flavor – one that’s known for its tolerance to a variety of growing conditions, making it a good choice for beginners no matter where you garden.
True to its name (with green and yellow striped skin) Green Zebra tomato resists cracking. That makes it easy to grow if your climate has wide swings in precipitation. Plus, Green Zebra is compact, making it a favorite for growing in containers.
Cherokee Purple is a popular heirloom not only for its large, dusky purple fruits and rich, sweet flavor, but also for its disease resistance.
If you want to grow sauce tomatoes, San Marzano is a classic Italian heirloom with a strong disease resistance profile.
Fun for kids, colorful in salads, perfect for salsa, good for snacking: Yellow Pear is a prolific, small, pear-shaped heirloom tomato with a sweet, mild flavor.
Aunt Ruby's German Green
Aunt Ruby's German Green produces large, beefsteak-type tomatoes known not just for their unique green color but also their reliability in various growing conditions.
Another classic heirloom that’s been a gardener’s favorite for decades, Rutgers produces medium-sized, round, red tomatoes and is prized for disease resistance and reliability.
If you garden on a patio, deck, or balcony, here are some of the easiest tomatoes to grow.
Balcony (cherry tomato)
Balcony tomatoes are specifically bred for container and small-space gardening. They are compact, determinate, and produce small, tasty fruit.
Bush Early Girl (determinate)
As its name suggests, Bush Early Girl offers a quick harvest and remains relatively small and bushy throughout the season.
Patio Princess (determinate cherry tomato)
If you’re looking for a cherry tomato that stays compact all season long, Patio Princess is a good choice.
Tiny Tim (cherry tomato)
Tiny Tim is perfect for small pots, like windowsills or little garden corners.
Micro Tom (miniature tomato)
A tomato plant that’s just 6-8 inches tall? Yep. Micro Tom is an ultra-compact, variety for indoor or patio container gardening.
Tumbling Tom (cherry tomato)
Make use of your vertical space to grow tomatoes with Tumbling Tom, a trailing cherry tomato variety that works well in hanging baskets or pots and produces small, sweet tomatoes.
Bush Early Girl (determinate)
One of the biggest drawbacks in growing tomatoes in pots is keeping them well watered. Fruit from Bush Early Girl plants matures early and, as a determinate, is harvested during a short window. That makes your gardening tasks simpler. You needn’t worry about watering plants during the dog days of summer.
Red Robin (cherry tomato)
This dwarf cherry tomato variety was specifically bred for container and small-space gardening. Its compact, making it suitable for windowsills or small pots.
Window Box Roma (plum tomato)
Window Box Roma was bred to offer a plum tomato’s usual firm texture – but the plant can flourish without a tomato’s usual deep root system requirements. It’s well suited window boxes, containers, pots, -- even indoor gardening.
If you’d like to grow tomatoes indoors, choose some of the dwarf or miniature varieties that are well-suited for containers: Tiny Tim, Balcony, Patio Princess, Micro Tom, Window Box Roma, or Red Robin, for instance.
Reason? Indoors, smaller is better. It’s easier to provide smaller plants with sufficient light, whether natural sunshine on a windowsill or plenty of headroom under grow lights. Plus, it’s easier to keep temperature and humidity levels consistent in a smaller space.
Plenty of fruit. Oodles of flavor. Weekly changes to the plant. Quick rewards. Perfect for gardening with kids.
Tomatoes ask that you watch over them for a few months to make sure they get enough food, water, and light … and that you keep predators at bay. When you choose the easiest tomatoes to grow, you get a bonus. They’re simply fun – and delicious, too.
More on choosing tomato varieties to grow
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