The Best Heirloom Tomato Plants to Grow in Containers

Most heirloom tomatoes will grow in containers, especially if you allow a soil volume of five gallons per plant, according to Ohio State University. Larger, whiskey-barrel-sized tubs of 10 or even 15 gallons containing soil-less potting mix work even better, according to GardenWeb's heirloom tomato growers. The sometimes-homely heirloom tomato may lack the uniform sizing and ruggedness of hybrid tomatoes, which can survive long truck rides to market, but it makes up for it with juiciness and flavor.

Slicing

If you are looking for tomatoes of 4 oz. to 1 lb. or more for salads and sandwiches, the standout for containers is Black Sea Man, according to Laurel's Heirloom Tomatoes and Heirloom Tomatoes of Texas. With mottled red-and-green flesh, this Russian heirloom features a rich, tangy flavor, described as full-bodied and intense, and 4 to 8 oz. fruits with mahogany skins and pink shoulders. Black Sea Man matures in 75 days and does well in 10- to 15-gallon containers. Running close behind Black Sea Man are the classic Rutgers heirloom and newly popular Green Zebra, with chartreuse and lime striped flesh that tastes sweet with a sharp bite, according to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. GardenWeb heirloom growers also recommend Indian Stripe and Bradley heirlooms. Laurel's Heirloom Tomatoes adds Black Prince, Dona, Lemon Boy, Lime Green Salad and Sophie's Choice for containers, while Heirloom Tomatoes of Texas suggests Homestead, Marglobe, Pink Grapefruit and Red Rocket.

Paste

For less-juicy tomatoes for canning or sauces, Laurel's Heirloom Tomatoes recommends Martino's Roma or Bush Beefsteak heirlooms for containers, while Heirloom Tomatoes of Texas recommends Amish Gold, Babywine, Purple Russian, Rio Grande Roma, Sweet Orange Roma or Viva Italia.

Cherry and Grape

For smaller fruits, Laurel's Heirloom Tomatoes cites Gardener's Delight, Green Grape and Sweet Baby Girl as best cherry heirlooms for containers. Or try the large grape variety Sugar Baby, recommends Heirloom Tomatoes of Texas.

Novelty

Laurel's Heirloom Tomatoes lists Green Sausage, a 4-inch-long, elongated green tomato with tangy flesh, and Japanese Black Trifele, a pear-shaped, purple-black tomato with a deep chocolaty flavor, as novelty heirlooms for containers. Heirloom Tomatoes of Texas found Russian Persimmon via Amishland Heirloom Seeds. This yellow-orange oxheart tomato, discovered in the seed bank of the former Soviet Union, grows less than 4 feet tall but bears abundant fruits of 8 oz. or more.

Keywords: growing heirloom tomatoes, best heirloom tomatoes, traditional tomatoes, Black Sea Man, Green Zebra

About this Author

Rogue Parrish has written two travel books and edited at the "The Baltimore Sun," "The Washington Post" and the Alaska Newspapers company. She began writing professionally in 1975. Parrish holds a summa cum laude Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.