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A warning first about this particular tomato plant - grow it as a supplementary tomato not as the main staple as results can be mixed from season to season with this cheeky giant. Some seasons it grows perfectly and others it really struggles without any obvious reasons why... I suspect it's a little fickle when it comes to temperature changes. 

Italian Tree Tomato

As usual, I will summarise by giving the tomato variety a final rating score out of 10 points by averaging my rating scores for the tomato on the following criteria:

  • Size of Fruit vs Productivity

  • Taste & Meatiness (texture)

  • Disease and Pest Resistance

  • Growth

  • X-Factor

So, without getting wrapped around the axles, let's get started!

Characteristics

# 3 in our tomato series is the Italian Tree Tomato. This plant is big and beautiful with large leaves, thick stems, a sprawling growth habit, and huge fruit.

The Italian Tree tomato is a large indeterminate plant (continues to grow-on kind-of like a vine) with a thick leader and many long branching off-stems; therefore, it will need staking or support. Taking 3 months to mature, this is definitely the largest tomato plant I have grown. An heirloom variety so it's true-to-type if you wish to keep the seeds for re-planting.

The fruit has a slightly pleated form with dark pink to red coloured skin when ripe with a similar coloured flesh with a fairly meaty texture when sliced.

Size of the fruit is usually large to a very large 4 – 6 inches across with good feeding and the right season.

Productivity is ok but I have found for a large plant cropping is sometimes disappointing.

Special Growing Tips and Observations

Obtaining the seed through heirloom seed providers would be the best option if you wanted an authentic plant and because it is pretty popular finding the seeds isn't hard (I got mine off eBay).

Soil preparation and planting is no different than any other tomato plant:

  • Does best in well-draining soil.

  • Dig-in some compost and manure for extra food.

  • Throw around and dig-in a few handfuls of dolomite/lime (for extra calcium and to help prevent blossom end rot).

  • Plant seedlings quite deep up to its first set of leaves (to promote more root growth).

  • If direct sowing with seed, sow two or three per station, keep soil moist, then thin out to one plant.

  • Feed young plant with some seaweed solution every few weeks.

  • Boost feed with some potassium or trace elements at flowering or early fruit set.

  • Mulch the soil around base of plant.

Extra feed like pre-dug manure and side dressings of blood and bone or potassium is essential for this big boy whilst it's growing but I wouldn't overdo the nitrogen as I feel this plant likes to grow more than fruit.

Italian Tree Tomato Growing

Italian Tree Tomatoes are not the easiest tomato to grow

In a subtropical climate, I've found the Italian Tree tomato difficult to grow because (like some other tomato varieties) it doesn't set fruit too well through winter (which is the best time for growing larger tomato varieties in my region). The confusing part about this plant is how well it grows through winter here with it probably being the most vigorous grower I've planted (besides the cherry type). However, I have had plants flower well and grow way over 6 feet for three or more months without any fruit at all.

Then by the time spring hits, the plant is quite susceptible to common diseases so the fruit starts to finally grow but the plant starts to lose puff. The best hope for growing this plant successfully in the subtropics is by starting it mid-winter and hope for a dry spring. And for cooler regions, I'd personally ensure the Italian Tree tomato is timed to flower in the hottest parts of the year and it should grow wonderfully.

Actually, I have read where this plant, in the right conditions, can be cut back to ground and mulched through winter to regrow again next season – it's probably a myth but it is interesting.

Fruit fly is a problem where I live and this tomato cops it big time so bagging, netting or spraying or trapping is required for this variety in fruit fly prone areas or the fruit will be lost.

Taste and Best Uses

The Italian Tree tomato is a great eater with a low acid and mild flavour I really like it. This tomato passes my grilled toasties test with flying colours and also makes a good sauce (so it should considering its name).

Again it's another tomato all tomato growers need to try. The size of the plant alone is worth seeing and if you can get it to fruit well, jeepers, the fruit size will make your neighbours eyes pop out when they peek over your fence-line.

 

 

Italian Tree Tomato Half

Final Say and Score

The Italian Tree tomato may be pretentious but it hasn't become a popular heirloom tomato variety for no reason. The difficulty and confusing fruiting habits is the most disappointing characteristic about this plant (for me anyway).

However, the size of the plant is a definite winner for tomato connoisseurs and its fruit is as good as any. Coupled with high x-factor due to its size and extra kudos for being an heirloom variety, this tomato no doubt scores well.

I like this variety of tomato because of its plant and leaf size, good taste, and fruit size.

My Scores:

 

  • Size of Fruit vs Productivity - 6

  • Taste & Meatiness (texture) - 9

  • Disease and Pest Resistance - 6

  • Growth - 10

  • X-Factor – 8

Full score is 39 points with an overall average total of a 7.8 - SSM Tomato Rating.

And there you have it for the Italian Tree tomato, the 3rd to be showcased in our tomato series, and one you won't find in any supermarket so to see your neighbours eyes pop as they shout BELLA, you'll need to grow it at home.

Feel free to use the comment section below and have your say (no email is required).

You can find more tomato reviews in the tomato category.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support,

Look, and see the Earth through her eyes

Mark Valencia – Editor SSM

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  • Guest - Day

    give italian tomato seed please :((

  • Hi Day, we can discuss your request over at the forum if you like? Just start a new thread in the fruit and vegetable section at www.selfsufficientculture.com

  • Guest - Tim

    I have 2 tree tomato varieties just planted out. One is Aus seed, the other from China. It will be interesting to see the differences. The Aussies germinated quickly with good rates, but the Chinese ones are enormous strong seedlings, however rates were down.

  • Guest - Mark

    Maybe throw this experiment between different seedlings on our forum Tim? Just to see how they go. Cheers :)

  • Guest - titania

    I live in south india. I just ordered the seeds thru ebay. I would like to know how rainy seasons would affect the plants. Dec to april is dry so will my plant survive such extreme conditions

  • Hi Titania, it all depends on your soil if it is heavy then it could suffer through the rainy season but in sandy or lighter soils it will need regular water. This plant is just the same as any other tomato it's just a larger plant with a large beefsteak style tomato. The temperature range for best growth is about 20 - 30 degrees C so try and grow it at the time of year when the temps are similar if possible. Or, take measures to protect the plant from high heat or cold like shade cloth etc. Dry conditions are a good thing for tomatoes (less leaf diseases) but they do need to be watered regularly for good growth and fruit development. I hope this answers your Q. Good luck!

  • Guest - mahmoud sami

    hi guys i am from egypt and the temperature reach her in summer to 40 c and i winter to 10 c i want to know how can i plant the italinat tomato here and if i need greenhouse how can i build it , please any one want to help send me on mhmoudwork@gmail.com

  • Hi Mahmoud and thank you for taking the time to ask a question!

    If you can grow other types of tomatoes in your area than you should also be able to grow the Italian Tree Tomato plant. Just be aware it has a longer growing season to reach maturity do to its size (both plant and fruit) so you'd need to start as soon as possible after the last frost. The plant will suffer in 40 degree heat but if you keep the water up and place some light shade cloth over the plant by using a makeshift frame or similar it should continue to produce well. Probably no need to build a specific greenhouse just for this type of tomato. I hope this helps! Cheers :)

    Comment last edited on about 7 months ago by Mark Valencia
  • Guest - Dr Peyman Rajaei

    Dear Sir or Madam
    I am going to grow tree tomato in large scale for Industrial usage ( producing tomato paste or sauce) in IRAN, but first of all need to know more and have a pilot garden .
    If you can practically help me on learning and planting this way ,please let me know.



    Best Rergards
    Peyman Rajaei
    Food Technologist (PhD)
    Technical consultant
    Rojintaak Co.
    Tel/Fax:0098 21 22 88 88 90
    Website: www.rojintaak.ir

  • Guest - Andrew

    Regarding winter die-back:

    Should one CUT BACK the died growth down above the lowest nodes of the plant ready for the next spring? Or should the died-back/winter planter be left alone for next spring's rejuvenation?

    Please let me know.

    Thank you.

    Andrew

  • Hi Andrew, yes what you suggested (cutting back to last node) is what I would do and then mulch the plant heavily to protect from the cold. In spring, give it a good feed and hopefully you'll have another season of this tomato plant!

    Thanks for the question :)

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