Do you want to be able to grow the best tomatoes in your container garden? If so, heirloom varieties are an excellent option to explore. Heirlooms make some of the best tomatoes because they have decades of people working to make them all about flavor and nutrition. This is different from a lot of other tomato varieties that are all about rushing them to get the most crops possible, and there’s a real danger of ending up with tasteless and unripe tomatoes that lack healthy vitamins.
Ideally, you’ll grow enough of the best tomatoes to stop having to subject your family to the typical tomatoes you see on your grocery store shelves. Also, you shouldn’t have to shell out a lot of money to try gourmet tomatoes. Instead, you can grow them in your own garden. You could even end up growing tomatoes in fun shapes and colors that are packed full of flavor, unique, and ready to help you fall back in love with this delicious garden offering. As a bonus, they all do as well in containers as they do in traditional garden beds.
Let’s take a look at several of the best tomatoes in the heirloom tomato family. You can mix and match them to have plenty of tomatoes to harvest during the growing season, and you can eat them fresh or can them to eat all year-round.
1. Chocolate Stripes
This best tomato got the name Chocolate Stripes from the unique color pattern that it has as it grows and matures. While the tomato is red, it has brown stripes running down the sides. This unique coloring makes this tomato seem like some kind of exotic fruit that will add a unique appeal to your garden. This is a larger tomato that has a reputation for being surprisingly sweet, and this is why a lot of people like eating it by itself or adding it to salads.
Due to the larger size of this best tomato, you can end up with fewer on each vine. However, they can easily get up to a full pound each, so you get a lot of use out of a single tomato. The plant can easily reach a height of six feet, and it’ll usually produce fruits 70 to 80 days after you plant them.
You will have to take very good care of this tomato to ensure it grows well. When you notice the vines starting to grow, stop adding nitrogen-based fertilizer to the soil because it can stunt the plant’s growth. If you notice any pests around the tomato plants, take care of them immediately, and never let the top layer of soil completely dry out.
Berner Rose and Chocolate Stripe by angelbenutzer / CC BY-SA 2.0
Brandywine tomatoes are some of the best tomatoes to add to your vegetable garden layout this year because they have a great taste to them and a larger size. They have a slightly round and bigger shape to them than other tomatoes, and they turn a very healthy and deep shade of red when they ripen. This particular tomato plant will take between 90 and 100 days to produce mature fruits once you plant it.
To get the best tomatoes possible, you want to plant it in well-drained but very fertile soil. You should plant this tomato outside rather than inside because it can easily top out at nine feet tall at full maturity, and this is too big for most homes. You will want to have slightly acidic soil with this plant to keep it happy and thriving, and you want to take note on how to use nitrogen-based fertilizers.
If you don’t know how to use these fertilizers, you can stunt your tomato plant’s growth by adding too much, and this can affect how many tomatoes you get. If you want large, juicy, and firm tomatoes, you can try to grow the Pink Brandywine Tomatoes from seed.
First Crop of Brandywine Tomatoes by Amanda Quintana-Bowles / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
If I asked you to imagine the best tomato possible, the Celebrity variety is most likely what would pop into your mind. They look exactly like you’d picture a healthy and delicious tomato should. They have a very nice round shape to them, and they have a darker red coloring when they’re fully mature that is very inviting. As a bonus, this type of tomato is also very easy for beginners to grow and keep healthy, and they require very little care once they establish themselves.
This is a slightly smaller tomato variety than others on the list as it tops out at around five feet at full maturity. The exact height will depend on your soil’s condition and how deep you plant them. You will want to add some type of support for the plant as it grows so it doesn’t bend under its own weight, and a tomato cage or a trellis will both do well to support it and stop it from getting dragged in the soil.
To produce a fully mature tomato, these best tomato plants take around 70 days from the time you plant them. You want to grow them in very nutrient-rich soil that has a lot of organic matter to give you the best results. When they mature, the tomatoes usually weigh around a half of a pound each, so they’re relatively large. You’ll get very full and round tomatoes, and if you want heavier yields, try the Burpee Celebrity Tomato.
Biochar Arb T1 Tomatoes by CenUSA Bioenergy / CC BY-ND 2.0
Don’t let this tomato’s name scare you off. It’s one of the best tomatoes available with a hard-to-pronounce name that has been described as having a slight citrus taste but still being deliciously sweet. It’s a yellow tomato that is more uncommon than other varieties on the list, and this would allow you to have a unique addition to your sun garden.
You’ll start getting fruit with this best tomato plant between 75 and 80 days after you plant them. Generally speaking, it’s not uncommon to get 20 to 25 fruits per plant, but they are smaller tomatoes. Instead of something large, you’ll get cherry tomato-sized fruits. One of the nicest things about this tomato plant is that it’s an excellent choice for a novice gardener because it’s an extremely hardy variety to try out.
This tomato plant is very tough, and it can withstand a lot of heat without stunting the growth. It’s also extremely resistant to drought, so it’ll be okay if you forget to water it for a few days. You will need to provide some support for this plant as it can get between six and seven feet tall at full maturity. If you want a crack-resistant and very sweet option, try to plant Blondkopfchen Yellow Cherry Tomatoes.
Blondkopfchen Tomatoes by Paul Seventy / CC BY-NC 2.0
5. Cherokee Purple
Remember when we talked about adding color to your garden? Well, Cherokee Purple delivers. This is a medium-sized tomato that has darker purple coloring to it. It will take between 80 and 90 days to produce fruits that are ready for harvest once you plant it. As a bonus, this is a shorter variety at five feet tall at the most, so you can easily plant it indoors all year-round or outside in a container during the growing season. You will have to give it some support to stop it from falling into the soil.
You will need to keep the soil constantly moist with this plant to keep it happy, but not keep it saturated. The soil should drain well between watering sessions while being rich in nutrients. The pH levels in your soil should be slightly more acidic at 6.5.
Another important note to consider with this best tomato variety is that it’s a strictly warm weather crop. If you live in a colder climate, you may have to grow it indoors. One good frost will kill it. Try to get your hands on some Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato seeds for this growing season.
Purple Cherokee purple Tomato by Elsie Hui / CC BY 2.0
Although you may think of delicious as something that tastes good, Delicious is also the name of this tomato variety. These are typically the tomatoes you find in the store, and they’re very popular when you cook due to their larger sizes and their general appearance. They are very meaty and large tomatoes that offer a very deep red coloring when they’re fully mature.
These best tomatoes can have a larger growth habit at six to eight feet, so you’ll have to space them out and give each plant a decent amount of room to grow. A trellis can easily give your plant support, and they’ll add height to your garden. This will also stop the plant from sagging and getting the tomatoes in the dirt. You will have to plant this variety in a sunny location that sees six to eight hours of sunlight every day to keep it happy.
For the average growth time, you should be ready to harvest your best tomatoes around 80 days after you plant them. They’ll be fully mature and ripe by then. Look for Giant Delicious Tomato seeds to add to your garden this spring.
Tomato! by essgee51 / CC BY-NC 2.0
7. Better Boy
The Better Boy tomato variety is one of the best tomatoes that looks just like you’d expect a good tomato to look like if you pictured it. They’re a medium-sized fruit that is very round and has an attractive red coloring to it. You can find them in a lot of grocery stores. This is a faster growing variety than other tomatoes, and you can start to have fruits ready for harvest between 70 and 75 days after you plant them.
This is another variety that you want to plant outside rather than inside due to the height, and it’s a good idea to provide support to stop the five to eight foot tall plants from drooping or sagging. You also want to work to ensure that the soil is always slightly moist. It should also be very rich in nutrients and drain well between watering sessions so the roots don’t sit in water.
There are a few different pests that plague this best tomato variety, so keep and eye out for them. Blossom end rot is one big disease that can kill your crop too. You’ll get juicy, succulent, meaty hybrid-quality tomatoes if you plant Better Boy seeds.
Better Boy Tomato by F.D. Richards / CC BY-SA 2.0
8. Dixie Golden Giant
Just as the name suggests, these best tomatoes feature a pretty golden color. They’re the beefsteak variety of tomatoes, and this means that they tend to have a broad growth range, and they typically weigh a pound or even more per tomato. Before they’re ready to harvest, you’ll wait between 85 and 100 days for them to get to full maturity.
When you plant this best tomato, you’ll want to ensure that the soil they’re going in drains very well but stays very fertile. The tomato has a very sweet taste to it with a slightly fruity tinge and a very meaty texture. A single plant can get up to six feet tall, so you will have to rig up a support system to stop it from drooping and dropping tomatoes in the dirt.
Trellises or taller metal tomato cages both work excellently to support your tomatoes, and you want to give them plenty of room to grow. They’ll need between six and eight hours of direct sunlight every day to be happy, and don’t let the soil dry out. For a very sweet and large variety, try to plant the TomatoFest Dixie Golden Giant Organic Heirloom Tomato.
Dixie golden giant by heydrienne / CC BY 2.0
9. Black Cherry
The Black Cherry tomato is another variety of best tomatoes that will add interesting colors to your garden. They have a black color to them, and it looks very much like your average cherry tomato does. Although they’re smaller in size, each plant can easily produce a huge amount of smaller fruits throughout the growing season for you to harvest.
For this tomato variety to produce fruit that is ready to harvest, you’ll wait around 65 days from the date you plant them. These best tomatoes have a very sweet taste to them that makes them great for salads, but you can also eat them plain, just like you would any other fruit. You’ll want to build a trellis or cage to support this plant as it can get quite large.
At full maturity, this plant will reach between six and eight feet tall, so be sure to spread them out a little when you plant them. It’s a good idea to add fertilizer spikes into your well-draining garden soil to feed the plants without overloading them. Place them in a sunny location and make sure you water them consistently to keep the soil moist.
Black Cherry by hedra.baltica / CC BY-SA 2.0
This is one of the most common types of best tomatoes available because it has a very large size. The amazing taste and dark red hue also help make it a fan favorite, but this is a slightly slower growing variety. When you plant it, you’ll wait around 85 days before the fruits get large and ripe enough to harvest, so plan accordingly when you grow this tomato.
This best tomato variety actually has several different varieties under one broad name. Some varieties work better in different climates, and they can produce fruits that are over two times the size of the average Beefsteak tomato. Some varieties have much higher yields than others, so it’s important that you carefully consider what you want when you pick them out. It can easily get between six and eight feet high at full maturity.
To grow this tomato variety, you’ll want to pick out a sunny location that gives at least six hours of direct, full sunlight every day. The soil should be rich and nutrient-dense, and you want to back off on adding nitrogen-based fertilizer when the plant takes off. The soil should drain between watering sessions, and you have to try to keep the soil moist instead of allowing it to dry out.
Freshly Picked Burpee Supersteak Hybrid by Akirikku / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
11. Black Krim
This is an extremely popular heirloom tomato variety, and it’s one of the best tomatoes if you’re looking for an easy but quick-growing plant. Another reason why this variety is so popular is because it is largely unaffected by the climate around it, and it’ll produce around the same amount of fruit in different growing conditions. You’ll get medium-sized fruits that grow very quickly. However, it still takes 90 days from the day you plant them to give you fully mature fruits.
For this best tomato variety, you’ll want to give it at least eight hours of sunlight to encourage it to grow at a healthy clip. If you can’t manage that, it needs a minimum of six hours of sunlight every day to be happy. It requires very little in the way of maintenance, and this is why it’s easy for novice or busy gardeners to have and grow in their gardens.
This tomato does have a black coloring with a deep red tone to make it a very eye-catching addition to your garden. It’ll grow a minimum of four feet tall, but it can go taller. The fruit is medium-sized and meaty. One good option to try this year is Tomato Beefsteak Black Krim seeds if you want one high-yield variety that is very sweet.
Black Krim by Alex Schwab / CC BY-ND 2.0
At first glance, it’s very easy to mistake this best tomato variety as a lemon due to the brilliant yellow coloring on the mature fruits. This is a quite popular variety due to the fruity and citrusy flavor profile, and it will produce around 50 fruits on every plant. So, you may want to consider how you’ll preserve them when they start maturing because you can get a lot without a huge amount of plants.
You don’t want to risk growing this best tomato variety indoors because it usually only gets six feet high, but it’s been known to grow as high as twelve feet under the correct conditions, and this is too large for most homes. Also, make sure you have adequate support for each plant to stop it from drooping or bending over under its own weight.
This plant can survive very well in hot, warm, and cooler climates without a problem. It takes between 70 and 80 days to reach full maturity from planting them. Like most tomatoes, they require six to eight hours of sunlight a day, and the soil should be very rich with organic matter and drain well between watering sessions. Make a point to keep the soil moist and back off using nitrogen as the plant grows to prevent stunting the growth.
Azoychka Tomatoes (again) by Dan / CC BY-ND 2.0
13. Amana Orange
Just looking at the name of this best tomato variety might give you a nice hint to its coloring. Yes, you’ll get an orange tomato with this type. This is another heirloom variety that has a very large size. At full maturity, your tomatoes can easily weigh two pounds each, and this is considerably larger than most on the list. This tomato gives you a very sweet flavor profile that is similar to fruit, and it adds a welcome pop of color to your garden.
To reach full maturity, you’ll wait between 80 and 90 days. The longer growing season is due to the tomato’s size. When the plant reaches maturity, they can easily top out at seven feet, and they need a minimum of six hours of sunlight every day to support healthy and steady growth.
Make sure this plant has plenty of space to grow when you plant it, and set up a support system so the fruit doesn’t end up on the ground due to the sheer weight. If you pick a trellis, make sure it gives support on all sides, and a tall cage or fence is another option. Use a well-draining soil, larger containers, and water them deeply a few times a week to keep the plant happy.
Steve’s 2013 Garden 13 by Stephen Melkisethian / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
14. Amish Paste
While many people preserve apples via canning, you can do the same thing with tomatoes. In particular, the Amish Paste tomato is an excellent choice if you’re growing tomatoes purely to make sauces or to can for use later on. This is a very meaty tomato variety that has a slightly odd shape with a very dark red hue, and it’s an heirloom variety that’s been around since the 1800s.
Originally from Wisconsin, this best tomato variety caught on and you can now see it in gardens all over the United States. It’ll produce very juicy fruits that weigh six to eight ounces each, and they will mature around 80 days after you first plant them. The plants can get five feet high and higher, so you will need to set up a support system to keep the plants upright.
This best tomato variety does well in medium or large containers with traditional potting soil. There should be larger drainage holes in the bottom of the pots, and you want to water them deeply a few times a week . Place them in an area that gets six to eight hours of sunlight a day, and make sure there is plenty of nutrients in the soil to feed the plant during the active growth season.
15. Costoluto Genovese
The final best tomato variety of the list is straight out of Nonna’s 19th-century kitchen. This is an Italian classic tomato that has a rich history of use in sauces, preserved, or eaten plain right out of the garden. This tomato is still a staple for cooks who want to use quality ingredients when they make their dishes, and you’ll get unique flattened and ribbed fruits.
This best tomato variety offers a very deep red coloring to it, and each tomato will get between six to eight-ounces at full maturity. Once you plant it, you’ll be able to harvest the fruits between 70 and 90 days later. Also, this tomato loves summer humidity and heat, and they won’t tolerate cold or a sharp frost without damage or dying.
For the best results, plant these tomatoes in an area that gets six to eight hours of sunlight every day. Set up a support system so you don’t end up with drooping plants and fruits dragging in the dirt like a trellis or tomato cage. The soil should be rich, loose, and slightly acidic. Make sure it drains well when you water it, and fertilize them well when they’re starting to grow.
First Ripe Tomatoes by Chiot’s Run / CC BY-NC 2.0
These 15 best tomato varieties allow you to add color, unique shapes, a host of tastes, and interest to your garden this year. Most of them prefer close growing conditions, so it’s easy to mix and match several varieties in a smaller space. Give them adequate support, a lot of sunlight, and time, and you’ll easily have a huge harvest by mid-summer.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.