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The Flamenco Tomato

It’s well-known that tomatoes are heat-loving plants and most gardeners worry about keeping their plants warm.  What you may not know is there is too much of a good thing when it comes to tomatoes and heat.  They suffer when temperatures climb above a certain range – most tomato pollen becomes sterile at 90 degrees and plants stop producing fruit in high heat.

Enter the Flamenco tomato, one of the most heat-tolerant tomatoes ever.  A newer arrival on the tomato scene, it’s made quite the impression in southern gardens across the country.

If you live in an area where soaring temperatures cause most tomato varieties to give up, then keep reading to learn about the Flamenco tomato.  You’ll want to grow a couple of these in your garden this year!

Closeup of small red tomatoes on a plant similar to the Flamenco tomato.

History of the Flamenco Tomato

The Flamenco tomato was created in Arizona as a cross between a Silvery Fir Tree tomato and a Floridade tomato.  It was bred for resistance to heat and disease.

Normally heat-tolerant tomatoes that do well in high-humidity climates fail in the desert when exposed to the harsh sunlight.  Most tomatoes bred for the desert heat fail when they encounter the high humidity of the deep south.  The Flamenco is unusual because it thrives in both desert and high-humidity gardens (it was tested successfully in Arizona and Florida).

This makes the Flamenco tomato ideal for southern US gardens, from the west all the way to the east!

Characteristics of the FlamencoTomato

The Flamenco tomato is a semi-determinate, open-pollinated tomato with frilly-leafed vines growing to 4 feet long.  Its smaller stature makes it a good candidate for container gardening.  While stakes, cages, or trellises aren’t necessary for supporting the vines, using them could make harvesting fruit easier.

The Flamenco tomato sets fruit when temperatures are above 90 degrees and produces high yields of small red fruit during periods of high heat.

A cluster of small red tomatoes on plant.

Ripening Season

The Flamenco is a mid-season tomato, with fruit maturing 60-75 days after transplanting.

Tomato Qualities

Flamenco tomatoes are round or globe-shaped and extremely juicy.

Tomato Size

Flamencos are 2” cocktail-sized tomatoes and weigh 3-4 ounces.

Closeup of three small red tomatoes on the vine.

Planting Zones

Flamenco tomatoes obviously do well in zones 10 and 11.  Growers in Colorado have reported Flamencos performing well there.  These tomatoes thrive anywhere with very hot summers (90 degrees and higher).

If you live in the low-desert southwest, you can start Flamenco seeds indoors in December and transplant young plants outside in late February or early March (when other parts of the country are starting their seeds!).

Size and Spacing

Plant young Flamenco tomatoes 24-36” apart.

A row of young tomato plants in sunlight.

Pollination

Tomatoes are self-pollinating and only need the assistance of nature.  If you have bees and wind, those get the job done. 

Plant Care

Flamenco tomatoes require average tomato care.

The following sections will provide highlights about tomato care. For a complete guide on optimal tomato plant care, from planting to harvesting and storage, please check out our article on How To Grow Tomatoes: The Complete Guide For the Best Tomatoes.

Sunlight

Tomatoes need 6-8 hours of sunshine a day.

Soil

The ideal soil conditions for tomatoes are well-draining, loamy, slightly acidic (pH 6.2 – 6.8), and amended with compost.  Adding crushed or ground eggshells to the soil prevents blossom end rot.

Person planting a young tomato in the garden.

Water

Tomatoes need soil that’s consistently moist, never soggy.  If soil dries out between watering, the fruit cracks.  To retain soil moisture, spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around your tomato plants, but keep the ground clear of mulch three inches around the base of the plant. Water on a regular basis at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry. Most tomatoes need an inch of water each week.

Fertilizer

Tomatoes require specific nutrients (such as calcium) to produce their best crops of fruit. To learn how to determine what your tomatoes need and when they need it, consult our ultimate tomato fertilizer guide.

Pruning/Pinching

Most tomatoes produce their best crops of fruit when they’re pruned. Lush, bushy tomato plants won’t give you much, if any, fruit — make pinching suckers a regular part of your tomato care.

This short video explains all you need to know about suckers and how to remove them.Pruning and pinching are a tomato care technique that can help your tomato put forth its best yield. But you need to know when to do this and what tomatoes need it. To help you with this, visit our pruning tomatoes guide.

Person pinching a sucker from a tomato plant.

Disease

Even though Flamenco tomatoes were bred for disease resistance, you’ll still need to take normal precautions to keep your plants healthy.  All tomatoes are susceptible to diseases like blight, fusarium wilt, Septoria leaf spot, Verticillium wilt, and Southern bacterial wilt. 

Keeping the foliage dry by watering the base of the plant and removing any foliage in contact with the soil are your best defenses against tomato plant disease.

To learn how to detect, treat, and take steps to prevent diseases, read our tomato diseases guide.

Pests 

Growing tomatoes means dealing with pests. Aphids, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, slugs, pill bugs, stink bugs, and rodents are just a few to look for. Companion plants like marigolds, catnip, fennel, dill, basil, and cilantro repel common tomato pests. Netting keeps out birds and larger pests, but can interfere with beneficial insects and pollinators.

For information to help you spot, eliminate, and deter 15 different pests, visit our guide on common tomato pests.

Closeup of aphids on the underside of a leaf.
Aphids hide on the underside of leaves, so you’ll have to look for them!

When to Harvest Flamenco Tomatoes

In most zones, start checking Flamenco tomatoes in early July for ripe fruit.  If you’re growing in the warmest zones, harvesting starts earlier (late May or early June).

Ripe Flamencos are deep red and “give” when you gently squeeze them.  Because it’s a semi-determinate, the plant produces fruit until extremely high temperatures arrive or until the first frost kills the plant.

Picked Flamenco tomatoes should be stored at room temperature – never refrigerated, or they’ll lose flavor!

Common Uses For Flamenco Tomatoes

The best use for Flamenco tomatoes is salads, but they’re suitable for other fresh and cooked tomato recipes.

Small red tomatoes on a table.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

A Flamenco tomato has a strong, clean “tomatoey” flavor.  It’s well-balanced – tangy, with a sweet aftertaste.

Cooking

These juicy tomatoes can be used for sauces, chili, soups, stews, and casseroles.

Closeup of a wedge of tomato, cheese, and herb quiche.
Tomatoes are a great ingredient in quiches or tomato tarts.

Eating Raw

Obviously, these petite tomatoes aren’t big enough to be slicers for sandwiches or burgers.  But you can slice or dice them for salads, salsas, relishes, bruschettas, tacos, wraps, or pita pockets.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

Flamenco tomatoes are productive, so you’ll likely need to preserve your harvest.  Like most tomatoes, Flamencos can be preserved by canning, freezing, and drying them.

Recipe Ideas 

Catalan Tomato Bread

Spanish Tomato Sauce

Spanish-Style Chorizo and Cherry Tomato Stew

Stuffed Cherry Tomato Tapas

Mozzarella Carrozza appetizer with tomato sauce.

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Tomatoes aren’t just pretty fruit that tastes good — they’re healthy foods!  All tomatoes are high in fiber, vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate. They’re also one of the best dietary sources of lycopene, an antioxidant credited with reducing the risks of heart disease and cancer.

Where to Buy Flamenco Tomato Plants or Seeds

Flamenco tomatoes are a newer variety and starter plants aren’t widely available.  If you live in the southern zones, look for them at local nurseries and garden centers. Seeds are available through several online retailers.

Where to Buy Flamenco Tomatoes

For the same reason starter plants are hard to come by, fresh Flamenco tomatoes are also hard to find.  Again, in the warmer parts of the country, farmers markets and specialty produce stores will be the best places to check for Flamencos.

Wrapping Up the Flamenco Tomato

Closeup of clusters of small red tomatoes on plants.

If you’ve had trouble growing traditional tomatoes in your hot weather garden, the Flamenco tomato could solve your problem!  

This tomato lets you get started early in the year, doesn’t flinch as the mercury climbs in the summer, and produces loads of fruit bursting with flavor.   Its compact size makes it ideal for patio, deck, and balcony gardens.  

What’s not to love about this little firecracker of a tomato?

Do you grow the unique Flamenco tomato? We’d love to hear how this variety does in your garden in the comments section below! To read about other fascinating kinds of tomatoes, click here for our tomato blog posts.