Choosing varieties for Houston

One of our ongoing projects is identifying the varieties of tomatoes that are worthwhile to grow here. Space limitations prevent us from getting definitive results on a large number of varieties, but we do the best we can by growing one plant of each of several varieties each year. This process has allowed us to identify several real winners for the area. Some plants that did poorly for us may have been the victims of circumstances, but those that did well we feel confident in recommending.

Some general rules:


All are indeterminate unless otherwise stated.

Variety Type Yield Comments
Big Beef F1 slicer high A reliable producer of good quality, fair flavored fruit. Red.
Black from Tula slicer fair Big, irregular shaped. The birds will fight you for the sweet, juicy fruits. Very crack-prone. Black-type.
Carmello F1 all-purpose exceptional Rampant grower and producer; flavor is unremarkable. Red.
Champion F1 slicer good Classic tomato flavor with some sweetness. Red.
Cherokee Purple slicer good Soft, meaty, very tasty. Purplish-brown.
Gregori's Altai slicer good A great early producer, very rich yet mild flavor. Pink.
Houston Brandy slicer fair An off-type from a packet of OTV Brandywine, it was a very sweet and meaty large pink. We saved seeds and have others trying it. Pink.
Tasty Evergreen slicer fair Finally, a winner in the "green-when-ripe" category. A bit of judicious bloom-thunking to get a good fruit set. Very interesting and tasty (kinda spicy) tomatoes - they turn a bit golden on the bottom when ripe. Extremely soft! Golden green.
Chadwick Cherry cherry high Absolutely classic cherry tomato; rampant grower. Red.
Sun Gold F1 orange cherry exceptional Sensational producer. Flavor is classic when not-quite-ripe, sweet and fruity when fully ripe. Splits at the drop of a hat. Orange.
Heidi Roma high Determinate after a fashion--huge plant! Excellent for sauce. Red.


Variety Type Yield Comments
Fargo Yellow cherry/grape good Flavorless. Determinate.
Super Sioux slicer fair Super flavor, but lost a lot to BER and cracking. Might have been watering/shade problems.
Pruden's Purple big slicer low The usual Brandywine problem: lots of vines, not much fruit, but excellent, meaty, and tangy.
Caspian Pink big slicer low A little more fruit, a lot less flavor than Pruden's. Unripe fruits are beautiful, though.
Sunmaster F1 slicer fair Reputed to set in hot weather, it was in all ways unremarkable. Determinate.
Red Brandywine slicer fair More real tomato flavor but fewer and lower quality fruit than Big Beef.
Costoluto Genovese multi high True-to-type seed may not be available. This resembled a bell pepper. Tough and flavorless.
Orange Banana orange Roma high Lost almost all to BER. Flavor was ok. Parents growing it in Kansas loved it.