What Are the Best Tomato Varieties for Central Florida?

“What are the best tomato varieties for USDA Hardiness Zone 9a?” Question from Janet of Summerfield, Florida.

Answer: The best tomato varieties you grow will depend on the time of year in your Central-Florida location. You are lucky to have the luxury of being able to grow tomatoes almost year-round. For summer, grow very heat-tolerant varieties, and in your milder springs and falls pick fast-to-produce varieties tolerant of cooler conditions. Overall, choose tomatoes that are high yielding and disease resistant.

Tomato Varieties for Florida

Two of the best heat-tolerant varieties include the large, red-fruited ‘Heatmaster‘, which can take the high heat of the South, and disease and heat-resistant ‘Heatwave II‘, which bears deep red tomatoes with good flavor.

Two tasty early varieties for cooler growing conditions include ‘Aurora‘, which bears loads of medium-sized, red tomatoes fast, and ‘Alaska‘, which quickly produces red salad tomatoes on short vines.

From there, I encourage you to read all about our favorite sauce tomatoes, monster beefsteak tomatoes, eating tomatoes, and the 10 best-tasting cherry tomatoes.

Growing Tomatoes

Wherever you live, tomatoes need constant soil replenishment. Getting your soil and feeding regime right is so important. In general, tomatoes like fertile, well-drained soil that is high in organic matter and has a relatively neutral soil pH of around 6.0 to 6.8. If you are growing plants in the ground, amend your soil thoroughly with a quality amendment that’s high in organic matter, like OMRI Listed Black Gold Garden Compost Blend.  Be sure to raise low soils, so they are well-drained. It is also essential to feed regularly with a fertilizer formulated for tomatoes and to keep plants evenly irrigated.

Click here to read a great University of Florida Extension article with more information about growing tomatoes in your region. It also details some heirloom tomatoes tolerant of heat.

Happy tomato growing!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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