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How to Choose the Right Tomato or Pepper Variety

How to Choose the Right Tomato or Pepper Variety
Home » Grow Your Own Food » Growing Great Tomatoes » How to Choose the Right Tomato or Pepper Variety

It is difficult to sort through the staggering array of tomato and pepper varieties, whether buying plants as seedlings or starting from seed. This post describes the growth habits, flavors and specific uses of popular varieties, making choosing your tomato and pepper varieties a much easier decision process.

Jump to: The Right Variety | Early Tomatoes | Beefsteaks | Slicers | Black Tomatoes | Orange | Yellow/Green | Bi-Color | Cherries | Hot Peppers | Sweet Peppers

What is the Best Fit for “You”

The best way to sort through the huge variety of tomato and pepper varieties is to think about your end use. Start with these sample questions to refine the selection process:

  • Do you make a lot of salsa?  
  • Are you at the cabin and away from home a lot?  
  • Do you entertain and want beautiful color and variety in your dishes?  
  • Are you into DIY and want to dry, can or pickle your tomatoes?  
  • Are you a novice gardener and want the best chance of getting a high yield?
  • Do you have limited space and need to grow on a deck or a patio?

Varieties Summarized by Growth Habits and Flavor

The following photos are signs I use at the farmers’ markets, and they are organized by color and/or type of tomato, primarily because these categories are easiest to explain to customers at a busy market.  

Best Tomato Varieties for Early Season

Best Main-Season Beefsteaks

Best Medium-Sized Slicers

Best “Black” Varieties (Rich, Wine-like flavor)

Best Orange Varieties (sweet)

Best Yellow or Green Varieties (Yellow = mild & green = tangy)

Best Bi-Color Varieties (beautiful, often sweet)

Five different bicolor heirloom tomatoes
Five different bicolor heirloom tomatoes

Best Cherry Tomatoes (Heirloom & Hybrid):

Best Pepper Varieties – Hot & Spicy:

Best Pepper Varieties – Sweet:

Your selection of varieties will be much larger if you buy seeds and start your own plants. If you start seeds at home be sure and look at this detailed tutorial on starting plants from seed.

Share some of your favorites?  I’d love to hear about the varieties you like or love, as well as the ones that haven’t done well for you in the past, for whatever reason.

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Tuesday 19th of July 2022

Hi, just found the blog. I enjoy reading your tomato variety reviews.

dorothy stainbrook

Tuesday 19th of July 2022

I’m so glad you found it helpful. My 2022 tomatoes are still green right now, but I’m sure there will be a few new ones added to the post in the Fall. I do try to keep it updated. Cheers!

Heirloom Tomato Varieties: Flavor Profiles Related to Color

Thursday 29th of August 2019

[…] addition to unique flavors and colors, heirloom tomatoes have different growth habits, yields, etc. Click here for a summary of distinctive characteristics of heirloom […]

Kristi Otto

Saturday 11th of May 2013

So nice to talk to you today. Love your blog

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