“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.
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!
Black Gold Horticulturist