Best tomatoes to grow outdoors in the UK

Tuesday, 5 July 2022  |  SimplySeed

The UK climate has been very unpredictable over the last few decades, with warmer, wetter winters and cooler, drier and windier summers. Then just for good measure we experience mini-heatwaves, blustery gales and unexpected snowfall. The weather in the UK has always been a major talking point but even more so now that global warming is having an all-round detrimental effect on plants. A wet, warm and humid atmosphere for example, are ideal conditions for the spread of blight, which can have a disastrous effect on outdoor tomatoes.

Other vegetables are also prone to fluctuations in temperatures, encouraging them to ‘bolt’ or ‘go to seed’ prematurely. Fortunately, whatever the weather, there are some resilient fruits and vegetables we can still grow with some success in the UK, and this includes the humble tomato, which just happens to be one of our all-time favourites. 

Growing tomatoes outdoors is fun and very rewarding but not all varieties or types, in terms of growth habit, are suitable. So, what are the best tomatoes to grow outdoors in the UK?

Growing tomatoes outdoors 

Growing the tomato outside has become possible in Britain even in the north. It is extremely important that tomatoes are warm so they will grow and produce before the cold arrives. Growing tomato in the air In recent times blight outbreaks have become very common and conditions for survival are becoming more common. It generally goes that if you travel farther north, it will be harder to succeed however it is all dependent on the microclimate in a vegetable plot 

Advice for outdoor tomato growing

A greenhouse will allow you to grow a whole range of different tomatoes, and most usually greenhouse tomatoes will provide a heavier crop but that’s not always an option for everyone. So, whatever the outdoor weather is likely to throw at you, here are some of the best selections for outdoor tomato growing. The following types of tomato plants include blight resistant, cordon, bush, patio and plum varieties. Some are determinate, which means they are classified as bush tomatoes. These do not need side shoots removing but might require some support.

Others are classified as indeterminate, which means they produce fruit on the vine, will need some support and all the side shoots removing. It’s important to remember when growing all types of tomatoes that they prefer a warm sunny position. They will also need feeding during the growing season to ensure the plants are healthy and fruits mature and ripen. 

When growing cordon tomatoes outdoors, it’s best to restrict their growth to about 4-5 trusses, which will allow the fruits to form and mature properly. Otherwise, later fruits will be much smaller than usual and may not fully mature as the latter months of summer offer less sunlight and are generally cooler.

Let's go outside – where will you grow your tomatoes?

It can be hard for you to determine how much space to grow tomatoes. Several varieties of tomato varieties are available at all sizes in gardens and they may be tumbling cherries in window boxes or neat rows on the lot. What are the spacings for tomatoes? There must also be a consideration factor. Having a sunny south facing on a wall or fence would be a much better solution for greenhouses. Alternatively, cold roof terraces facing north are safer because there is little sunlight on them. Think of the brightest places in your garden

Blight resistant varieties

Tomato blight can be a real problem in the UK, especially if the weather is wet, warm and humid for any length of time. Blight is a fungal disease that spreads very quickly through tomatoes causing the leaves and stems to die and the fruits to rot. A whitish fungal growth can also be seen on the undersides of the leaves. Potatoes can suffer the same fate as they are susceptible to the same pathogen. We should there fore be looking for a tomato variety that offers good blight resistance.

Fortunately, there are many blight resistant tomatoes available, which includes cordon type and bush types, both are relatively easy to grow. Bear in mind that ‘blight resistant’ does not mean the plants are completely immune from attack. It does however, mean they show a tolerance to the disease and will be less affected than those plants that are not classed as blight resistant.

Tomato Cocktail Crush
Tomato Cocktail Crush
  

A true breakthrough when it comes to disease resistance....

Growth Habit - Cordon.

Av. Packet Contents : 10 seeds


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Tomato Consuelo F1
Tomato Consuelo F1
  

Excellent outdoor performance, with good blight resistance....

Growth Habit - Large Bush.

Av. Packet Contents : 10 seeds


  Only:    £2.25   
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Tomato Crimson Crush
Tomato Crimson Crush
  

A true breakthrough when it comes to disease resistance....

Growth Habit - Cordon.

Av. Packet Contents : 10 seeds


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Tomato Solito
Tomato Solito
  

Rather unique new blight resistant bush variety for pots and tubs.....

Growth Habit - Large Bush

Average Packet Contents : 10 seeds


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Read more in our Blog Post on Blight Resistant Tomatoes

Hanging Basket /Trailing tomatoes

Also known as the ‘tumbling toms’, refers to a group of tomatoes that are best suited to planting hanging baskets. These cascading plants produce cherry-like tomatoes and will often grow where other tomato plants might struggle. For example, in small pots, a variety of containers and even in window boxes. These bushy, trailing plants will produce virtually non-stop juicy, sweet fruits all summer long. 

They are also very easy to grow outdoors and can be sown in pots or trays on a warm windowsill during March or April. They would appreciate a fortnightly feed with a high potash fertiliser. There is no need to remove any side shoots

Tomato Hundreds And Thousands
Tomato Hundreds And Thousands
  

A popular older trailing variety for hanging baskets.....

Growth Habit - Trailing.

Average Packet Contents : 10 seeds


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Tomato Tumbling Tom Red
Tomato Tumbling Tom Red
  

Tumbling Tom Red gives amazing performance with stems.....

Growth Habit - Trailing.

Average Packet Contents : 12 seeds


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Tomato Tumbling Tom Yellow
Tomato Tumbling Tom Yellow
  

Tumbling Tom Yellow is an early, prolific producer of sweet.....

Growth Habit - Trailing.

Average Packet Contents : 12 seeds


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Read more in our Blog Post on Growing Tomatoes in Hanging Baskets

Tomatoes for the patio

Patio tomato plants are short, sturdy and bushy plants that will produce an abundance of fruits all through the summer. As they are a dwarf variety they can be used as focal points among the summer bedding, planted in hanging baskets or used to fill up empty spaces in the garden or allotment. Best of all, they look great in containers of all shapes and sizes, which can be strategically placed around the patio or decking. 

Not only can you enjoy the bright red fruits as they appear and ripen, these versatile plants taste delicious too. Patio tomatoes are easy to grow from seed. Start the tomato seeds off in pots or trays on a warm windowsill in March or April. Blight resistant varieties are available

Tomato Sweet Success

We think that this tomato variety deserves its own mention. Sweet Success is one of the best for amateur gardeners, offering on a good crop of large cordon-type cherry tomatoes. It will need some support and training. However, pinching out the side shoots and tying to a support occasionally, is not a difficult routine task and you will be well rewarded with cascades of cherry tomatoes all summer long. This makes an excellent salad tomato, producing heavy crops with an excellent flavour

Sweet Success is an F1 variety, which grows very well outdoors and offers good disease resistance making it an ideal candidate for outdoor growing, even in large containers - perfect for home grown tomatoes grown in a sunny spot outdoors on the patio. Seeds can be sown in pots or trays and placed on a kitchen windowsill in early April. They will then be ready to plant out about 4 weeks later, up to mid June.

Tomato Sweet Success
Tomato Sweet Success
  

An easy growing, free setting cherry.....

Growth Habit - Cordon.

Average Contents : 10 seeds


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Plum tomatoes

Plum tomatoes, sometimes called Roma tomatoes, offer something a little different from standard tomatoes. Not only are they oval or cylindrical in shape, they are known as processing tomatoes, which means they are perfect for cooking and for making pasta sauces. 

There are varieties of plum tomatoes that are suitable for growing in all types of containers, growbags and direct into open ground. Some plum tomatoes are classed as determinate and some as indeterminate. Read the instructions on the seed packets so you know which type you might have. All are easy to grow in the UK.

 

Which Tomato Variety do you find best grows outdoors? Leave a comment below and let everyone know....

 

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