how to grow cherry tomatoes

Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiform

Do you love the idea of ​​picking sweet, ripe tomatoes fresh off the vine, but aren’t sure how to start?

Cherry tomatoes are great plants to start.

Rewarding for new and experienced gardeners alike, they are surprisingly productive and easy to grow—one plant can produce a reliable crop of bite-sized fruit from early summer until fall.

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Hearty and vigorous plants, the beautiful fruits grow in large clusters in a rainbow of colors – chocolate, mahogany, orange, red, yellow, almost black, and pink, in a solid color or even with tiger stripes.

And sun-warmed right off the vine, the fruit tastes downright delicious, ranging from mildly sweet to tart.

Because of the small fruit size, usually one to two inches, these high-yielding plants often bear fruit in only 55 to 65 days, with some being ready to harvest in as little as 45 days. however, there are also those that may take up to 80 days to mature.

They also do well in containers, so they can be grown almost anywhere, even on small balconies or decks.

Sounds like something you’d like to try? Then join us now for our best tips on growing cherry tomatoes.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What are cherry tomatoes?

Solanum lycopersicum var. Cerasiformes are thought to be direct descendants of S. pimpinellifolium – the wild ancestor of today’s domesticated varieties.

This ancient ancestor was a weedy plant with small, blueberry-sized fruit. It migrated from the northern Andes to Mexico, and at some point, evolved into a plant with large fruits that were suitable for domestication.

Today’s varieties still produce small, globular fruits, although they typically measure about a half inch to two inches in size. The oblong-shaped grapes are called tomatoes, but they remain in the same classification.

Varieties are classified into determinate and indeterminate growth habits, and many determinate ones have been bred for compact growth in small spaces.

And like standard-sized Solanum plants, cultivars are divided into heirloom or hybrid divisions.

However, there’s also a new breed on the block. Let’s take a look at that first.

heritage hybrid

It sounds like an oxymoron, but heirloom hybrids are a new breed of tomato created by crossing two heirloom varieties, or an heirloom, with a modern hybrid cultivar.

They are bred for the best colour, flavour, size and texture as well as for qualities such as disease resistance, early fruiting and vigor – often using only the paternal parents.

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This results in plants with outstanding performance as well as the deep, rich flavor of heirlooms. And flavor is what many people lack in standard hybrids.

If you want to try one of the newer breeds, ‘Black Pearl’ is an heirloom hybrid with deep, rich mahogany color and full, complex flavor—sweet with a rich, peppery flavor.

Seeds can be purchased from Burpee.

Seed or Sprout?

To grow your plants from seed, they need to be started indoors about six weeks before your last frost date (LFD).

Photo by Lorna Kring.

Transplanting them outside is usually about six weeks after your last frost date, or when the plants are about 12 weeks old.

You will need to collect your own seeds from heirloom plants (seeds from hybrids will not necessarily be the parent) or purchase seed. Seeds can be purchased at your local nursery, online sources, and in seed catalogs, which usually arrive in January.

And if you’re new to starting your own, our guide on how to grow tomatoes from seed has detailed instructions in six easy steps.

Alternatively, you can wait until spring and purchase seedlings from your local nursery or garden store.

planting gear

Once your seedlings are hardened off and ready for outdoors, it’s time to assemble your planting gear.

And don’t be fooled by the size of the fruit—these plants are vigorous and can get large and bushy.

Unless you have chosen dwarf or patio varieties, the fruit-laden branches can become heavy and require support in the form of cages or stakes.

This helps keep fruit off the ground and prevents branches from breaking under the weight—even with determinate varieties.

galvanized plant support

Cages come in a variety of shapes and sizes and need to be strong enough not to buckle under a large plant, like this set of five galvanized hoop cages available at Wayfair.

For reference, here’s a list of everything you’ll need to grow:

Depending on the cherry or grape tomato plant variety, cages or stakes are needed for support with plant clips, twine, or Velcro ties. inches in diameter and 12 inches tall holds about 5 gallons) bone meal to add to the planting hole for strong root development potting soil mix (balanced all purpose mix, or use 18-18-21 NPK) when planting in containers Do) Formula for Solanum)

For more detailed information on planting or container farming, be sure to check out our growing and care guide for tomatoes.

Growing Tips

Cherry tomatoes are generally hardy and easy to cultivate, but there are a few things you can do to ensure a bountiful harvest:

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The plants are happiest in well-draining soil with a pH level of 6.2 to 6.5. They need a location with full sunlight – at least six hours per day. Planting should be avoided until the possibility of frost is over. If setting in adverse weather (i.e. cold, wet, and windy conditions), use cloches or plant covers to protect new seedlings. Be sure to leave enough space between planting holes—the fruit may be small, but the plants can be large and bushy. Plant your cages or stakes when planting to avoid disturbing the roots later. If you’re growing container plants on a balcony, tie the stems to railings to eliminate the need for cages or poles. When planting, break off the lowest stems and twigs from the main stem. Then bury the plant one to two inches close to the lowest remaining set of leaves. Stumped, pruned stalks will produce more roots for stronger growth. To prevent future problems like blossom end rot, add a small handful of lime or Epsom salts to the planting hole. Both increase magnesium levels, which can be inhibited by high concentrations of calcium and potassium in the soil. Pinch off as soon as they appear, to redirect energy into fruit production. These are smaller branches that appear in the “V” shape between the main stem and the branches. Photo by Lorna Kring. After flowering, feed in-ground plants with a balanced fertilizer or tomato formula of 18-18-21 twice a week. Container plants require more frequent fertilization and may need to be fed weekly. If so, use a diluted, half-strength formula to compensate for the increased frequency of application. Plants do better with deep weekly waterings than frequent light waterings. If space is an issue, look for dwarf or patio varieties. These are plants determined for compact growth. For details on the difference, read our guide to learn more about determinate and indeterminate varieties.


Harvest when the fruits have turned to the desired color. This can happen anywhere from six to 10 weeks after pollination, depending on the weather and the variety you choose.

When ripe, the fruit will slowly separate from the stem with a tug or twist.

Pick ripe fruit every day or two to encourage continued blooms and higher production.

varieties to choose from

For ideas on which varieties will be best for your needs, see our review of 17 of the Best Cherry Tomatoes.

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In the meantime, here are some suggestions to get you started:

baby boomer

A compact hybrid variety, ‘Baby Boomer’ offers a large payload with a yield of more than 300 red, one-inch stems per plant, produced all summer long and until the first frost.

‘baby boomer’

Fruit ripens in 50 to 55 days on determinant plants that reach 20 to 25 inches tall.

Take three packs of seeds or plants from Burpee.

black cherry

‘Black Cherry’ is a cultivar with a rich heritage that is reflected in its complex, sweet flavor and firm texture.

The one-inch fruits are a deep, dark mahogany brown, and the stems remain laden throughout the hot summer months.

‘Black Cherry’

Indeterminate plants grow up to 60 inches tall and the fruit matures in 64 days. This variety is naturally disease resistant.

You can buy seeds at Eden Brothers.


Perhaps the most popular cherry tomato, ‘Sungold’ is a highly prolific vine with large clusters of tangerine-orange fruits.


Delicious fresh off the vine, on the grill and in salads. An indeterminate plant, fruits ripen in 57 days and vines grow 48 to 60 inches tall.

Seeds can be purchased from True Leaf Market.

Recipes and cooking ideas

Don’t panic when these fabulous plants produce bumper crops!

Instead, let your homegrown crop shine. Tossed into salads or made into salsa or fresh marinara, used as a delicious topping for homemade pizza, or cooked into preserves, sweet cherry tomatoes are among the summer garden’s tastiest rewards. are one.

Photo by Meghan Yager.

For a delicious appetizer try this Corn and Cream Cheese Dip with Cherry Tomatoes from our sister site, Foodle.

Photo by Felicia Lim.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Shrimp and Feta, also from Foodle, make a delicious entrée option.

Photo by Meghan Yager.

Or, if you’re not in the mood for seafood, give these Chicken Cutlets with Tomatoes a go, also from Foodle, on a busy weeknight.

delicious bite sized gems

Fertile, hardy and reliable, cherry tomatoes are an easy and complete introduction to growing your own Solanum.

Choose varieties for containers or the garden, give indeterminate varieties some support, and follow our tips for an abundance of delicious bite-sized fruit all summer long.

Do you guys have any favorite varieties you’d like to recommend? Drop us a note in the comments below.

For even more tomato knowledge, add these growing guides to your reading list:

Photos by Felicia Lim, Lorna Kring and Meghan Yager. © Ask the Experts, LLC. All rights reserved. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.