best florida tomato varieties

The Best Tomatoes to Grow in Florida

Some say that growing tomatoes in Florida is hard, and I must admit – it can be if you don’t know what you’re doing. Tomatoes might be warm weather plants but most varieties buckle under our extreme heat. It doesn’t help that Florida humidity creates the perfect breeding ground for a slew of tomato diseases. The good news is, though, that there are a handful of tomato hybrids that thrive in our hot, humid climate.

Take a look through this list of the 16 best tomatoes to grow in Florida and give them a go this season. Floridians may have extra challenges but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be harvesting bushels of tomatoes in no time.

Best Tomatoes to Grow in Florida

easiest tomatoes to grow in florida
Photo Credit: William Newton

Best Large Tomatoes to Grow in Florida

1. Floradade

With a name like Floradade, it’s no surprise that this variety is a Florida favorite. The University of Florida engineered this determinate variety in the 1970s for heat and drought tolerance. It‘s also resistant to fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, and gray leaf spot. Because it can handle daytime temperatures of up to 100F, the Floradade is a great choice for gardeners in South and Central Florida.

The Floradade produces big, firm, red fruit. Most say that while this tomato is tasty, it’s not quite as sweet as other varieties. At its biggest, the plant can reach 6 feet and it does great in containers.

2. Floramerica

The Floramerica is another University of Florida hybrid that’s perfectly suited for hot and humid weather. This 1978 All-America Tomato Selections winner is a determinate known for its high yield and hardiness. In fact, this one is resistant to 17 different tomato diseases.

Floramerica tomatoes produce red, globe-shaped fruit up to 7 ounces in weight. If you’re looking for an easy-growing slicing or salad tomato, give this one a try.

3. Floradel

Unlike the Floradade and Floramerica, the Floradel is an indeterminate tomato. It’s known for its resistance to cracking, fusarium wilt, and tomato mosaic virus.

The high-yielding Floradel produces a slicing tomato that is sweet, thick, and juicy. This variety has a fairly long maturation time (84 days) and sets a lot of fruit even in less-than-ideal conditions.

4. Florida 91

If you’re looking for a tomato that produces huge fruit but can still handle high heat and humidity, the Florida 91 is for you. This determinate variety will set fruit when others fail and is also resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, gray leaf spot, and alternaria stem canker.

Florida 91 tomatoes are extra-large– the Florida weave method is a great way to give this tomato some heavy-duty support. A lot of other larger tomato varieties produce lackluster fruit, but Florida 91 is prized for its firmness and strong tomato flavor.

best tomato varieties for florida
Photo Credit: Lee Haywood

5. First Lady

The First Lady tomato is an indeterminate variety that is resistant to nematodes, fusarium wilt, and verticillium wilt.

This is an early-season producer, so plant it along with the late-maturing Floradel if you want to have an extra-long harvest season. First Lady tomatoes are bright red and about 7 ounces. Almost everyone who grows this variety says they are pleasantly tart and acidic, making them great for salsa.

6. Celebrity

Celebrity is a popular determinate variety that produces large slicing tomatoes. If you have problems with tomato pests and diseases, try the Celebrity – it’s resistant to nematodes, fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, and tomato mosaic virus.

Most people agree that the Celebrity tomato is a reliable producer, but some say it’s not the most flavorful homegrown tomato.  This is a good one for canning and sauces but if you’re looking for an exceptionally sweet salad tomato, you might be better off with another hybrid.

7. Heat Wave II

Heat Wave II is an early-season, heat-tolerant determinate tomato common in Southern gardens. It’s resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, anthracnose, and gray leaf spot.

Like the Celebrity hybrid, you can depend on the Heat Wave II to put out a consistent yield, even when the temperatures hit the mid-90s. Also like the Celebrity, some say Heat Wave II can be a little bland, but that it’s still better than tomatoes from the grocery store.

Best Medium to Small Tomatoes to Grow in Florida

8. Bonny Best

This indeterminate medium-sized tomato has been a canning staple since the early 1900s. Bonny Best is can take more heat than other commercially grown tomato varieties, but this one is better suited for North Florida versus Central or South Florida.

Bonny Best isn’t especially known for its disease resistance, but they do have a dependably high yield. This heirloom has been around for a long time and as long as you keep an eye on it, Bonny Best can provide North Floridians with pounds of canning tomatoes over the growing season.

9. Everglades Tomato

everglades tomato
Photo Credit: Mike Wang

The Everglades may very well be the best tomato to grow in Florida. If it’s not the “best” tomato, it certainly is the easiest. In fact, many gardeners consider this variety to be a bit of a nuisance because it self-seeds so readily. In my experience, I’d call this tomato an annual in Florida rather than a perennial.

This indeterminate variety is known for its incredible heat tolerance. If given some shade, you can grow the Everglades tomato straight through the Florida summer. This is also a fun one for the kids – Everglades tomatoes are tiny and super-sweet. Each fruit is about the size of a blueberry, sometimes smaller.

For more information, check out my Everglades tomato growing guide. This is a unique specimen so you may want to do some research for the best results.

10. Midnight Snack

The Midnight Snack is heralded as one of the sweetest purple tomato varieties out there. It produces small tomatoes that start off dark purple (almost black) and gradually ripen to a deep, vibrant red. This tomato is loaded with antioxidants, which give it its unique color.

This indeterminate cherry tomato wasn’t bred specifically for hot weather, but I’ve had tons of luck with this one when planted in early spring. Each plant produces more than 100 fruit over the course of the season. To me, the hardest thing about midnight snacks isn’t the growing but the waiting for the fruit to ripen – they’re super sweet and have a strong tomato flavor.

midnight snack tomato
Photo Credit: Ruth Hartnup

11. Sweet 100

This indeterminate, red cherry tomato packs a sweet, sugary punch that makes them great for snacking straight off the vine. As a bonus, the Sweet 100 is also resistant to verticillium and fusarium wilts. They are prone to cracking, though, so don’t overwater, and don’t let them sit on the vine long after they’re ripe.

Grow Sweet 100 along a balcony or patio railing – the vines grow 4 to 8 feet long and since they become laden with fruit, they do need something to crawl along.

12. Sweet Chelsea

Sweet Chelsea is an indeterminate red cherry tomato known for high yields and fast-growing vines. You’ll need to grow this one in a tomato cage or up a trellis.

The best feature of Sweet Chelsea is its toughness. This variety is resistant to drought, cracking, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, tobacco mosaic virus, and nematodes. Even though it’s tough, Sweet Chelsea isn’t lacking in flavor – this super sweet tomato is great for snacking and salads.

Best Yellow Tomatoes to Grow in Florida

13. Giallo de Summer

The Giallo de Summer is a yellow, indeterminate large beefsteak tomato that can handle high heat and humidity. It produces medium to large fruit that is great for slicing and using in salads. Out of all the bigger yellow tomato hybrids out there, most say that the Giallo de Summer is the tastiest.

yellow tomatoes
Photo Credit: Steven Jackson

14. Floragold

The Floragold is a micro-dwarf variety that tops out at 10 to 12 inches tall when fully mature. It’s hands down the best patio tomato to grow in Florida.

This determinate tomato plant may be tiny, but it produces a high yield for its size. The fruit is sweet and tangy and can be grown in containers or baskets.

15. Sun Sugar

Sun Sugar is an indeterminate yellow cherry tomato that’s resistant to fusarium wilt and tobacco mosaic virus. It’s also well-known for its resistance to cracking.

As its name implies, Sun Sugar is very sweet and heat-tolerant. It’s an early producer that grows in long clusters that range from bright yellow to orange. Sun Sugar is a favorite among snacking tomatoes – most people have a hard time getting them into the house before eating them all, right there in the garden.

yellow cherry tomatoes
Photo Credit: Magalie L’Abbe

16. Sungold

Resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and tobacco mosaic virus, Sungold is a yellow cherry tomato that is both sweet and tart. Like the Sun Sugar variety, Sungold is a snacking favorite and an early producer.

While they’re very similar in taste and appearance, the biggest difference between Sun Sugar and Sungold hybrids is cracking. Sun Sugar was bred especially to avoid cracking, so it has a thicker skin than most. Some people say that Sungold has better-tasting skin than Sun Sugar but find it annoying the Sungold is quick to crack.

Featured Photo Credit: Valeria Lam

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