Having been born and raised in the Midwest, I love the taste of homegrown tomatoes. Now, living in the Deep South, I find that my tomatoes lack intense flavor, and they seem to have a lot of trouble growing and fruiting in the heat. Are there any varieties of tomato that can successfully be grown in the South?
Once temperatures get above 90° F during the day (or above 75° at night), tomato plants are very susceptible to blossom drop, or the flowers fail to pollinate, resulting in a poor (or nonexistent) tomato crop. In areas where such temperatures are normal for midsummer, many gardeners focus on tomatoes more in the spring and early fall instead of fighting the elements in the heat of summer.
If you do grow tomatoes in hot summer weather, keep them well mulched and regularly watered. If you take care of the plants, they may recover and begin producing again when the temperatures cool a bit. Although the flavor of a tomato is largely tied to the variety, less stressed plants will produce better-tasting tomatoes as well.
More and more varieties of tomatoes are being developed that are touted as “heat tolerant,” with varying reports of success and flavor. Here are a few examples you might try:
- Solar Fire
- Solar Set
- Sun Leaper
- Heat Wave
- Sure Fire