10 Varieties of Purple Tomatoes to Plant in Your Garden
Purple tomatoes are fascinating and I have been lucky to taste some! Indeed, they’re not as rare as you might think. They may be a surprise, but it’s an even better surprise that you can actually grow them yourself! Which one do you need then?
The 10 kinds of purple tomatoes that can be planted in gardens are:
- Cherokee Purple
- Black Prince
- Cosmic Eclipse
- Black Krim
- Midnight Snack
- Black Beauty
- Purple Boy
- Blue Beauty
- Black Cherry
- Indigo Rose
Strange and delightfully eye-catching, purple tomatoes are as mysterious as they are delicious. Yes, you read that right—they’re delicious! Great for both decorating purposes and for eating. Here’s a list of purple tomatoes I’ve made for you that you can grow right in the comfort of your home.
Why Are Purple Tomatoes Purple?
Purple tomatoes get their color from a natural pigment called anthocyanin, a flavonoid. Fixed only to the tomato peel, this is the same pigment that gives blueberries their dark purple color.
The purple hue of these special tomatoes is due to a flavonoid named anthocyanin. Flavonoids are natural compounds that can be found in nearly all fruits and vegetables. These flavonoids are responsible for a variety of things like the fragrance of flowers, chemical signaling, and pigmentation.
Basically, anthocyanin is made up of water-soluble pigments that can come in a variety of different colors such as blue, black, or purple. These pigments are naturally occurring and can be found in blueberries, but are usually not found in tomatoes. However, there are some wild species of tomatoes that do contain a number of anthocyanins.
>>> Interesting: The purple color of these tomatoes is only in their skin and not inside the fruit. A purple tomato will also be red inside, just like a regular one.
Normally, this coloring does not go beyond the peel or outer flesh of the fruit. Once cut, you can still find its flesh is rich with another red pigment called lycopene. These purple tomatoes might be a surprise, but they are just like your everyday tomatoes, just with a bit more color!
Are Purple Tomatoes Genetically Modified?
Most purple tomatoes available are not genetically modified and were created through cross-breeding with the few wild species of tomatoes that contained anthocyanin.
You see, the way some of these purple tomatoes are created is by selecting the most desirable traits of wild tomatoes for cross-breeding. In this case, their anthocyanins.
With the help of wild tomatoes, crossing activities eventually produced brighter variations. This can be long and tedious process, taking years and even decades to properly cross-breed plants. Eventually, this led to new tomatoes that contained anthocyanin inside their fruit and displayed a much more prominent shade of purple on their skin.
As for tomatoes that have been genetically modified, there are some being developed. Around 2014, British professors had taken 2 genes from snapdragon fruits and used it to help produce a higher amount of anthocyanin inside their tomatoes, creating much more vibrant fruit with colors that even extend to the flesh. But due to some countries’ strict regulations regarding GMOs, it may be a while before these tomatoes are commercially available.
Are Purple Tomatoes Good for You?
Due to the anthocyanin, purple tomatoes may provide antioxidants that are beneficial. They are safe to consume, and their nutritional value might be slightly higher than red tomatoes. The taste will vary depending on the tomato, but purple tomatoes are sometimes said to be sweeter and less acidic.
Purple tomatoes are completely safe to eat and currently have not shown any harmful effects. On the contrary, they may even have slightly more nutritional value than regular tomatoes. Tomatoes are already abundant with nutrients like vitamin C and lycopene, and their purple variants with anthocyanin may provide us with these same things along with strong antioxidants.
The taste depends on the variety, but they’re all delicious. Purple tomatoes taste slightly smokey, almost sweet, and sometimes less acidic than regular red tomatoes.
Some purple tomatoes with a high count of anthocyanin do seem to have a stronger flavor. But anthocyanin is both flavorless and odorless, so the presence of such probably doesn’t impact the flavor of the fruit.
10 Varieties of Purple Tomato for Planting
If talking about these plum-like tomatoes suddenly left you with an urge to try them, you’re not alone. Here are some of the most stunning and popular purple tomatoes that you can plant yourself!
1. Cherokee Purple
Cherokee Purple tomatoes are a popular variety that matures in an average of 70-80 days, with orb-like tomatoes growing to be purple-maroon in color. It can be grown from spring to summer.
By far, the Cherokee purple tomato is probably one of the most common heirloom tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes are non-hybrid and open-pollinated, meaning if you plant any of its seeds, it will grow into plants that look just like the original parent plant. Originated with the Cherokees, they were first sold in the US around the 1990s and quickly became a hit.
The Cherokee tomato is part of the beefsteak family, too. Beefsteak tomatoes are known to be the largest type of tomato, and when they are grown they often demand plenty of water in order for their fruits to grow huge and sweet.
These beefsteak tomatoes are indeterminate plants, growing mid-to-late spring, and summer, thriving in warm conditions. The fruit takes about 70-80 days to mature and grows into deep purple-maroon orbs that are rich in flavor, typically best served raw in sandwiches.
2. Black Prince
Originally from Siberia, Black Prince tomatoes can grow in lower temperature regions. Fruit can be seen in 80 days, and can be grown all through spring to late autumn, needing protection from winter.
An older heirloom variety, Black Prince tomatoes, are believed to have come from Siberia. Because of this, they can tolerate temperatures that are slightly cooler than other tomatoes, but should still be shielded when winter comes.
Its colors can be considered strange. Often a shadowy blend of red and purple-black, they are incredibly juicy and flavorful and grow all the way from spring to sometimes even late fall. They can tolerate droughts and don’t require heavy watering, taking only 80 days to mature.
3. Cosmic Eclipse
The Cosmic Eclipse tomatoes can be peculiar, growing in marbled blends of indigo, green, and red. They can be grown in spring to late summer, but cannot be overwatered.
This unique and open-pollinated variety comes in a fascinating color that is a mixture of red, indigo, and green. It almost looks marbled in appearance because of it. When cut into, you can see how thick and juicy the fruit is.
Cosmic Eclipse tomatoes can be grown from spring to late summer. These all-purpose tomatoes can be grown outdoors or in containers, but require trellises and must not be overwatered. Once harvested after a maturing period of 70 days, these tomatoes have a surprisingly good shelf life, allowing you to enjoy them for longer periods of time.
4. Black Krim
Black Krim tomatoes are dark red and purple in color and often come with a smokey flavor. They can be grown in every season except winter, maturing in 80 days. If given the proper care it needs, splitting can be avoided, potentially leading to large yields of tomatoes roughly 5” (12.7 cm).
Originally grown in Crimea, Black Krim were the first black tomatoes that became commercially available in the US. Flush red and dark purple in color, this is a favorite among chefs for its sweet yet smokey taste.
Its open-pollinated seeds usually mature in around 80 days, and can be grown in spring, summer, and fall. These fruits may be a bit harder to grow, as tomatoes can sometimes crack. But if properly cared for, this variety is frequently high-yielding and may even produce larger fruits that are 5″ in diameter.
5. Midnight Snack
Midnight Snack Tomatoes are fast, cherry tomatoes that only require 60-70 days to mature. To attain its jet black tones, excess leaves must be pruned to allow the hybrid fruit to absorb full sunlight. They grow in spring, with tart-like flavors.
These hybrid cherry tomatoes can grow in very dark tones of purple when exposed to sunlight. Because it’s a hybrid plant, it’s very likely if you later gather its tomato seeds to plant, it will give birth to fruit with different characteristics from its multiple parents.
Its productive vines are indeterminate, growing in spring. They only take around 60-70 days to mature.
Their seedlings can be fertilized often, but I wouldn’t suggest anything high in nitrogen as this can encourage more foliage, which you may not want if you’re trying to achieve its black-purple color. Prune any excess leaves off fruits to prevent foliage from blocking sunlight, and these tart and gothic tomatoes are sure to surprise you.
6. Black Beauty
The Black Beauty tomatoes can grow to be surprisingly dark-purple and almost completely black. Growing in spring and early fall, this plant can produce up to 20lb (9.07 kg) of 8 inch (20.32 cm) savory tomatoes per plant, maturing in an average period of 80 days.
If midnight snack tomatoes are too small for your taste, no worries! These meaty tomatoes can grow up to 8 inches in diameter (20.32 cm), sometimes yielding up to 20lb (9.07 kg) per plant. Just like the previous tomato, this variety is true to its word and produces a striking hue of purple-black fruits, with bold and savory tastes.
This is high in anthocyanin, and must be grown in full, unfiltered sun in order for the anthocyanin to activate and produce solid-colored fruits. It is an indeterminate plant, growing in spring to early autumn. They can be grown in pots, and take about 80 days to fully mature.
7. Purple Boy
The hybrid tomatoes of the Purple Boy plant are lighter, but make an excellent choice to plant in spring and summer due to their resistance to diseases such as Fusarium Wilt. Near-symmetrical tomatoes can be seen after 60-80 days from transplant, tasting both tangy and sweet.
Purple Boy tomatoes may be milder in terms of violet appearances, but they are highly resistant to diseases like root rot, and Fusarium wilt, unlike other more sensitive tomatoes.
This is a hybrid, beefsteak tomato that can typically be enjoyed all spring and summer long, and matures in roughly 60-80 days from transplant setting. Except for their slight ridges at the crown, they are quite uniform and are near perfect globes. In terms of flavor, I’ve tried these before, and I can say these tomatoes are a nice balance of sweet and tangy, perfect for soups.
8. Blue Beauty
Blue Beauty tomatoes are best planted in warmer conditions such as summer, but can also be grown in spring. Firm, beefsteak tomatoes can grow up to 8 ounces (0.3 kg), are resistant to cracking and sunburn, and usually finish maturing after 80 days.
This is a unique kind of purple-blue beefsteak tomatoes that grows ideally in warm conditions and matures in 80 days. It thrives in the full sun of summer and is resistant to sunburn, but can also be planted safely in spring without worrying about it splitting.
A pollinated and productive plant, it often bears a high number of large 8 ounce (0.3 kg) tomatoes that are firm and not very acidic. Its flavor is delicious, and you can tell it’s ready for harvest when the bottom of the fruit has a crimson blush.
9. Black Cherry
The Black Cherry plant can bear a heavy amount of fruit, thus requiring support from cages or trellises, and can be grown in-between the end of spring and the middle of summer. Once harvested after a period of 75 days to fully mature, fruits will continue to ripen and must be stored carefully.
Robust bite-sized tomatoes typically come in a pleasant dusky shade of tan or maroon. This plant bears a surprisingly large amount of tomatoes and requires trellises or cages to help support its vines and the heavy weight of the fruit.
It only takes around 75 or more days to mature once planted in late spring and mid-summer, but must be shielded from heavy rain and cold temperatures. Its fruits will still ripen post-harvest, which may be a concern, but its deep and hearty flavors are worth it.
10. Indigo Rose
The Indigo Rose tomatoes, developed at the State University of Oregon, are extremely deep in a purple hue and are best grown in spring. The plant is hardy, but should be protected from frost. After the plant matures in 80 days, dozens of fruits can be harvested, when the peels are no longer glossy.
Last but not least, the Indigo Rose. These tomatoes were naturally bred at Oregon State University, and have such a striking dark purple hue, they look almost like grapes! A single plant should be enough to yield dozens of tomatoes, if properly cared for.
It has a nice, balanced taste, but you should only harvest these when the peel loses their shine. It’s a bit more difficult to harvest these compared to regular tomatoes because visual cues are no longer as prominent, but they’re a great novelty fruit. You can grow these surprisingly hardy tomatoes at home in the spring, and see them mature in around 80 days.
How Long Do Purple Tomatoes Grow?
On average, a majority of purple tomatoes require around 60-90 days to grow and bear fruit. However, this varies greatly on what type of plant it is. Fruits that are not ripe will be bitter and strong in taste, while ripe tomatoes will be juicy and more pleasant in flavor.
Of course, each variety has different growing periods. But the average time these tomatoes need to grow from transplant to producing fruit is between 60-90 days, which is about 2-3 months. With a little planning ahead, you can easily enjoy these tomatoes any time you wish.
You can usually tell if their fruits are ready for the picking when they are slightly tender to the touch, but don’t bruise them. Since each tomato variety is different, you can harvest a single tomato to check the ripeness of the majority of the fruit currently on the bush. Ripe tomatoes should be juicy, while unripe ones will taste bitter and unpleasant.
Pests and Problems for Tomatoes
As much as I’d love to think my plants will never face any issues, it’s important to be mindful of the challenges that can arise when growing any type of plant.
The 4 most common pests and problems seen in growing tomatoes are 1) hornworm 2) blossom end rot 3) cracking and 4) fusarium wilt.
What are dark purple tomatoes called?
There’s no special name given specifically to purple tomatoes, and there are numerous breeds and cultivars, each with their own name. Some of the darkest tomatoes we know of would be: Black Beauty, Indigo Rose, Midnight Snack tomatoes, and Blue Beauty.
Why are my regular tomato stems turning purple?
This purple pigment will make an appearance in tomato stems and foliage simply when they’re deficient in phosphorus. This nutrient may not be available in the soil, especially if it is potted, or the soil may be too cold for the plant to properly absorb it. You can wait for warmer temperatures to come or feed your plants with a liquid fertilizer rich with phosphorus.
The unique and eye-catching appearance of purple tomatoes can be seen in many various breeds, but the most common would include Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, and Black Prince. The darker tomatoes that are more exquisite in pigment would be Cosmic Eclipse, Midnight Snack, Black Beauty, Purple Boy, Blue Beauty, Black Cherry, and the Indigo Rose. Many of these are the result of natural cross-breeding and carefully produced hybrids, and are rich in a pigment named anthocyanin which helps provide it with its purple colors.
- “Purple as a tomato: towards high anthocyanin tomatoes” by Silvia Gonzali, Andrea Mazzucato, and Pierdomenico Perata in Plant Lab, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna
- “What’s behind Purple Tomatoes? Insight into the Mechanisms of Anthocyanin Synthesis in Tomato Fruits” by Sara Colanero, Pierdomenico Perata, and Silvia Gonzali in National Center for Biotechnology Information
- “The Purple Tomato FAQ” by Peter Boches and Jim Myers in Oregon State University
- “Fusarium Wilt of Tomatoes in a Home Garden” by n/a in University of Maryland