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Guides to Tomato and Pepper Growth Characteristics

Guides to Tomato and Pepper Growth Characteristics
Home » Grow Your Own Food » Growing Great Tomatoes » Tomato and Pepper Growth Characteristics

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, so that you are armed with the information that will making choosing your tomato and pepper varieties a much easier decision.

Six popular bright red heirloom tomatoes on a cutting board.
Popular bright red heirloom tomatoes

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

What is the Best Tomato or Pepper 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 and then take a look at the detailed charts below:

  • 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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  1. Kristi Otto says:

    So nice to talk to you today. Love your blog

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

  3. Larry says:

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

    • 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!

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