The kinds of tomato plants can be categorized as heirloom, hybrid and wild. The main criterion of classifying these tomato plants is the point of genetic origin, as determined by geneticists, plant breeders and taxonomists. These varieties have pros and cons, and you should look into these if you’re choosing which plants to keep in your garden.
Many of the tomato plants that are recommended by dietitians are heirloom tomatoes. These kinds of tomato plants also go by the name heritage tomato in some European countries. These varieties are open-pollinated but the genetic makeup is loyal to that of the original strain. There are commercial varieties that are being grown as mass produced crops, but the original genetics of the tomato plants remain.
Heirloom kinds of tomato plants are grown because they are deemed the most nutritious, even if not the sweetest. They contain high levels of lycopene and carotenoids relative to other varieties. These tomatoes are not as uniform and attractive as other commercial varieties, due in part to the way they are propagated. Many farmers save the seeds from existing heirloom plants and these seeds are cultivated under the same conditions. What happens is the inbreeding of these plants, which keeps the genetic diversity low. The downside of heirlooms is that they are not as resistant to diseases and they have short shelf-life.
Garden Peach is an example of a heirloom tomato, and these are grown in tropical places. The skin is yellow, but there is a pink undertone, giving the fruit a complex color that appears orange-like. These kinds of tomato plants are known as good sources of iron and vitamin B5. Garden peach is eaten raw and processed only to extract the juice. Their nutritive value is optimum when consumed uncooked. These are best kept as container plants so that the external environment is more controlled.
Alicante is another heirloom, and it is characterized by its candy red color. These kinds of tomato plants are best suited for the greenhouse and the field.
Hybrids are kinds of tomato plants that have been pollinated and cross pollinated with other varieties and hybrids. The genetic makeup of these plants are more complex than heirlooms. Many of these cultivated varieties are crossed with others that have a desirable trait such as disease resistance, increased productivity and sweet taste.
The Better Boy is a tomato hybrid that has become one of the most productive varieties in the world. The flavour is tangy but it can be sweet. It is suited as a garden plant, although care must be taken to keep the plant from toppling over when the fruits develop in great abundance.
Cherokee is another hybrid that comes from old Indian settlements. The color is purple and some fruits resemble bigger sized grapes more than regular tomatoes. Because of the unique color, some experts consider it among the black tomatoes, a very rare breed.
Wild kinds of tomato plants exist in the wild and are hybridized with local breeds. Examples of wild tomatoes are Solanum pimpinellifolium or the currant tomato, which is endemic to Latin American countries. It is able to hybridize with common tomatoes.