How to Find Tomato Varieties

Overview

Hundreds of tomato varieties exist, but tracking down an old favorite can be challenging. Most of the tomato plants sold at garden stores or nurseries are hybrids--plants bred for vigor and disease resistance. These tomatoes are reliable producers and popular with gardeners. They can seem rather dull, though, and lack the robust flavor of heirloom tomatoes. If you're dreaming of your grandmother's tomatoes or want to try one of the gold, purple or striped varieties, look beyond your local garden store. For the largest variety, grow tomatoes from seed.

Step 1

Consult a local county extension office to find tomato varieties suitable to your area. Gardeners in high-altitude areas or areas with a short growing season should select high-altitude adapted tomatoes or fast-maturing varieties.

Step 2

Search local nurseries for the tomato varieties of your choice. Nurseries may special order plants for you or provide a similar variety.

Step 3

Consult online seed catalogs. Many tomato varieties are available as seed, but not as plants. For rare or heirloom seeds, contact a seed exchange.

Step 4

Visit small, organic farms. These farms often experiment with heirloom varieties and may be willing to sell you unusual tomato plants. Vendors at farmers markets often sell heirloom tomatoes and may sell you plants or provide you with a source.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed catalog

References

  • Washington State University Extension Office: Tomato Varieties
  • Natural Hub: Tomato Varieties

Who Can Help

  • Seed Savers Exchange: Our Mission
  • Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Ten Mistakes to Avoid
Keywords: finding tomato varieties, finding tomato plants, growing heirloom tomatoes

About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing for five years. Her work has appeared in "The Friend" and "Western New York Parent" magazines. Her guide for teachers, "Helping Young Children Cope with Grief" will be published this spring. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College and recently returned to school to complete a degree in communications/English.