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The Hillbilly Tomato

Hillbilly tomatoes are an easy to grow, massive beefsteak variety of tomatoes. These fruits are known for averaging between 1-2 pounds. They create a tomato flavor that is the perfect combination of sweetness and that classic tomato flavor that you love. Slice these large tomatoes for the perfect addition to a sandwich or dice them to complete your favorite salad.

Ridged heirloom tomatoes on the vine in various stages of ripening.

History of the Hillbilly Tomato

The Hillbilly Tomato originated in West Virginia. Now, this beefsteak tomato is grown across the United States due to its delicious flavor and large size.

Characteristics of the Hillbilly Tomato

The Hillbilly Tomato is an easy to grow tomato plant of the beefsteak tomato variety. It does grow rather large due to it being indeterminate, so it’s important that these plants are moved outside and staked. Most people enjoy the appearance of this beautiful tomato. It has orange-yellow, red mottled skin with gorgeous red streaks on the inside.

Ripening Season

The ripening season for this gorgeous bi-color beefsteak tomato is considered late as it does not reach full maturity for 85-90 days. Gardeners that live in the northern part of the United States often find that they are harvesting tomatoes just before the first frost hits.

Tomato Qualities

Hillbilly tomatoes are best known for their large size and flavor. They have a delicious flavor that truly shines when they are sliced in large slabs for a sandwich. If this is your favorite tomato, make sure that you use it as an addition to sandwiches or hamburgers to get the sweetest flavor.

Tomato Size

These tomato plants produce 1-2 pound fruit.

A single Hillbilly tomato against a black background.
The Hillbilly tomato can come in a range of colors, depending on temperature and amount of sun exposure.

Planting Zones

Hillbilly tomato plants grow best in zones 10 and 11. However, it should be noted that these plants are grown successfully across the country. If you have warm temperatures and ample sunlight, you can grow these tomato plants.

Size and Spacing

The Hillbilly Tomato plant has indeterminate growth, with some plants growing larger than eight feet tall. These plants will need to be planted at least three feet apart with 2-3 feet in between rows. Proper plant spacing is critical to ensure that plants grow healthy, large fruits.

Young tomato plants in the garden.

Pollination

These beefsteak tomatoes are open-pollinated. Open-pollinated means that pollination has occurred through natural methods, such as the wind.

Plant 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.  You may also be interested in our blog post on how to grow big tomatoes!

Growing and caring for these tomato plants is easy for both beginners and more experienced gardeners. The plants can be started both indoors and outdoors, but will eventually need to be moved outdoors.

When moving seeds outdoors, it’s important to make sure that there is no frost. Cover plants if there is a chance of frost or it can kill your plants. Hillbilly Tomato plants need a minimum temperature of 50 degrees to survive.

Closeup of green Hillbilly tomatoes on the vine.
Immature Hillbilly tomatoes.

Sunlight

These plants need at least six hours of sunlight per day whether indoors or outdoors

Soil

A loam soil that is deep and well drained is ideal for these tomato plants as they can experience root rot if the soil is too wet. Soil that has organic matter is ideal as well. Hillbilly Tomato plants are known for being heavy feeders.

Water

After planting seeds, it’s important to water them daily to keep the soil moist. Once plants are larger, water them once per week. Plants need approximately 1-2 centimeters of water.

It’s important to avoid overwatering plants and cover them during heavy rainfall. Plants that are overwatered will experience root rot and may drown.

Closeup of water spout watering young tomato plant.

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

Hillbilly Tomato plants require little pruning or pinching. Simply let them grow, and prune leaves that are touching the ground.

Orangey red heirloom tomatoes on the vine.

Disease

The Hillbilly Tomato is not naturally disease resistant, so it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of a bacterial or fungal infection. If you notice that leaves are curling upwards or that a plant has stunted growth, you need to look into common diseases of tomato plants.

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

Pests

Tomato plants of this variety are also not crack-resistant, which can make them more prone to pests, such as tomato hornworms. Rabbits also tend to enjoy this variety of tomatoes.

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

When to Harvest Hillbilly Tomatoes

Harvest these tomatoes when they are ripe. There will be 85-90 days to maturity after planting them.

Closeup of yellow orange tomatoes on the vine.


Common Uses For Hillbilly Tomatoes

The most common use for Hillbilly Tomatoes is to slice them to eat as a snack or with a sandwich. The larger slices of this tomato allow you to truly enjoy the burst of flavor.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

Hilbilly Tomatoes have a low acid content, making them one of the sweetest tomatoes on the market. They have a fruity flavor with a burst of sweetness.

Cooking

When used on a sandwich, these tomatoes are best eaten raw however, they do add a sweet flavor to some of your favorite dishes that require cooked tomatoes, such as chili or spaghetti.

Closeup of wedge of tomato and cheese quiche.

Eating raw

When using slices of tomato at a cookout or on your lunch sandwich, eat them raw for the best flavor. It’s perfectly safe to enjoy these tomatoes without cooking them.

Canning/Freezing/Drying

These tomatoes do well for canning, freezing, and drying.

Recipe Ideas

Hillbilly Tomatoes With Vinaigrette

Heirloom Parmesan Tomatoes

Summer Tomato and Tuna Salad

Tomato Pie With Sour Cream Crust

Health Benefits of Hillbilly Tomatoes

Yellow-orange heirloom tomato cut in half.

Hillbilly Tomatoes are packed with Vitamin A and Vitamin C. The powerful antioxidants in these tomatoes can fight off free radical damage and have been known to help prevent prostate cancer.

Where to Buy Hillbilly Tomato Plants or Seeds

Hillbilly Tomato plants are popular in both online and brick-and-mortar stores. These are often sold as plants that are approximately one foot tall. Seeds can be purchased at most gardening stores online or at Amazon.com.

Where to Buy Hillbilly Tomatoes

Picked yellow red tomatoes.

Unfortunately, Hillbilly Tomatoes are not sold often in popular grocery stores due to their large size. You will have better luck finding them at a local farmer’s market.

Wrapping Up the Hillbilly Tomato

Three Hillbilly tomatoes on a white background.

The Hillbilly Tomato is a beefsteak tomato variety that is known for its large size. Although these tomatoes are easy to grow, they require a large amount of outdoor space due to spacing requirements. If you have the garden space to devote to these beauties, they are well worth it. You’ll fall in love once you bite into a slice and savor the sweet, juicy flavor.

For more information about other tomato varieties, check out the rest of our tomato-related blog posts at this link.