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The Black Cherry Tomato

Black cherry tomatoes are strikingly dark-colored. Their beautiful burgundy skin, as well as their flavor, sets them apart from many other kinds of tomatoes. You can add these unique tomatoes to your recipes for a pop of unexpected color.

If you’re looking for a slightly exotic addition to your garden that adds visual interest and unique flavor to your food, then keep reading to learn more about this tomato variety,

Closeup of a black cherry tomato plant with fruit.
A Black Cherry Tomato adds visual interest to your garden and taste to your cooking.

History of the Black Cherry Tomato

Many darker-colored tomato varieties actually originated in Russia. Though the precise history of this purplish-black cherry tomato variety is unknown, it is likely that it came from that country as well.

Characteristics of the Black Cherry Tomato

Ripening Season

Black cherry tomatoes ripen during the hottest summer months.

Tomato qualities

With a lower acidity level than many other tomatoes, the black cherry tomato has a sweet, smokey flavor.

Closeup of very dark black cherry tomatoes on the vine.

Tomato size

Full-grown black cherry tomatoes reach about 1.5 inches in length.

Planting Zones

The black cherry tomato grows well in zones 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.

Overhead view of a tomato seedling in a starter pot.

Size and Spacing

Black cherry tomato plants reach a height of five feet and a width of about four feet. These plants require a support structure to keep them upright. A tomato plant stake or cage will do the job. Plants should be spaced about thirty-six inches apart so that they have plenty of room to grow without robbing each other of needed sunlight and soil nutrients.

Container garden with different varieties of tomato plants, including black cherry tomatoes.

Pollination

Black cherry tomatoes are open-pollinated plants. Open-pollination refers to plants which sprout from seeds that are the result of natural pollination of the parent plant. This means that even though self-pollination can occur to a small extent, pollinators such as birds and bees are also required for pollination to be successful.

Plant Care

Sunlight

Cherry tomatoes prefer full sunlight, which is 6+ hours a day.

Soil

Moist soil is most ideal for tomatoes.

Person planting tomatoes in the ground.

Water

Cherry tomato plants should be watered every two or three days to keep the soil nice and moist, which is the environment they grow best in. In the hottest months in warmer climates, you may need to water every day.

Person watering tomato plants using a watering can.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer should be provided when transplanting and then every 3-4 weeks after.

Pruning/Pinching

When transferring tomato plants from a pot to the ground, pinch the lower level of leaves and remove them from each plant so that you can place about two-thirds of the plant underground.

Disease

Black cherry tomatoes are resistant to fusarium wilt race 1, gray leaf spot, and leaf mold. This means that they are unlikely to be negatively affected by exposure to these diseases.

Blossom End Rot

One unfortunate disease that black cherry tomatoes are susceptible to is blossom end rot. This is a condition in which the plant hasn’t been able to absorb enough calcium from the soil. As this happens, the fruit begins to rot from the bottom up.

Proper mulching can help prevent this problem. When mulched, the soil is better able to retain the right amount of moisture and is less likely to cause an imbalance in plant nutrients.

Monitoring the pH and nitrogen levels of your soil is also a good idea, as imbalances in these can also encourage blossom rot to take place.

Flower Drop

Also referred to as “blossom drop,” this disease occurs because of non-ideal temperatures. When the temperature rises above 75F or drops below 55F, there is a good chance that the flowers on your tomato plant will fall off their stems.

This can also happen as a result of insect infestation, nitrogen imbalance, or lack of pollination.

While you can’t control the temperature, you can add fertilizers to the soil to strengthen the plant and give it it’s best chance of survival. You can also add insecticides to discourage insects from feeding on your plants. And to encourage pollination, you can introduce plants like milkweed and cosmos which will draw pollinating organisms to the area.

Pests

Aphids

Aphids are sap-sucking insects that thrive on tomato plants and can usually be found on the undersides of leaves, though they are very small and therefore difficult to see. They weaken plants and stunt growth. Sometimes their presence can even cause misshapening of leaves and stems.

Closeup of aphids on a tomato vine.

Tomato Horn Worms

These bright green or vibrant blue caterpillars have a pointed, hardened growth on one end resembling a tail. They are the larvae of a kind of moth, and tomato plants are the preferred host organism for their growth. Tiny hatchlings will devour an entire leaf overnight. They grow quickly enough that a handful of them could dispatch your entire tomato plant if you don’t remove and dispose of them as soon as possible. Inspect your plants for these pests regularly.

Closeup of a tomato hornworm and a half-eaten tomato.

When to Harvest Black Cherry Tomatoes

Black cherry tomatoes require 64 days to grow to the point that the tomato fruits are ripe enough to pick. Even these tomatoes start out green, so you’ll know when it’s time to pick them by their dark burgundy color. Tomatoes ready to be eaten will also be firm to the touch.

Common Uses For Black Cherry Tomatoes

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

The black cherry tomato has a rich, sweet flavor. It tastes best if left out at room temperature rather than refrigerated.

Closeup of assorted cherry tomatoes, including black cherry tomatoes.

Cooking

Black cherry tomatoes add both a delicious flavor and an unusual dark color to dishes. They can be cooked into various tomato sauces, tomato-related soups, shish kebabs, and casseroles.

Eating raw

Black cherry tomatoes are nutritious and delicious fresh off the plant. There is no need to cook them in order to make them safe to eat and make a lovely addition to salads.

Closeup of assorted whole and halved cherry tomatoes.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

All of these options work effectively to preserve black cherry tomatoes.

Recipe Ideas

For a sweet and spicy way to use your Black Cherry tomatoes, try this recipe for Peach Salsa on our website. For an entree, here’s a pasta sauce recipe that features these flavorful tomatoes.

Health Benefits of Black Cherry Tomatoes

Tomatoes are an excellent source of nutrients such as dietary fiber, minerals, anti-oxidants, phyto-chemicals, and vitamins.

A bowl of black cherry tomatoes.

Where to Buy Black Cherry Tomato Plants or Seeds

Black cherry tomato seeds can be purchased from a variety of places, evenAmazon.com.

To purchase black cherry tomato plants, check with your local farmer’s markets and garden stores.

Black cherry tomatoes on the vine in various stages of ripeness.

Where to Buy Black Cherry Tomatoes

Most grocery stores don’t carry Black Cherry tomatoes, especially not year round. The best place to find them would be at your local farmer’s market.

Wrapping Up the Black Cherry Tomato

Very dark, ripe black cherry tomatoes on the vine.

These sweet, richly-flavored tomato brings both its deliciousness and it’s gorgeous color to the table. We hope you’ll enjoy your experience with this remarkable tomato!

If you really love tomatoes, click here for more of our tomato-related blog articles.