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The Tigerella Tomato

Though less popular, a few gardening enthusiasts and some tomato farmers like growing Tigerella tomatoes to add variety to their harvests, for its novelty, and for its unique markings.

Tigerellas are known for their sweet, succulent meat and balanced flavor. Their signature striped appearance that vaguely resembles the stripes of a tiger, hence the name.

However, there’s more to this tomato than its remarkable pattern. Keep reading to see if Tigerella tomatoes are right for your garden.

Two Tigerella tomatoes against a white background.

History of the Tigerella Tomato

Tigerella tomatoes have been grown in England since the 1900s. However, its exact origins remain unclear. Some sources claim that Dr. Lewis Darby from Great Britain developed them. Others believe that they were developed by the Glasshouse Research Institute in England during the 1930s.

Characteristics of the Tigerella Tomato

There’s no denying the Tigerella was named after its signature skin. One can spot this heirloom tomato immediately thanks to its silver dollar-sized fruit and characteristic stripes. They come in a wide array of colors ranging from deep red to pale orange.

Tigerellas are an indeterminate heirloom variety that produces fruit during the entire growing season. You’ll want to consider preparing extra tall trellises to support its growth.

A Tigerella tomato plant in sunshine.

Ripening Season

Tigerellas are an early to mid-season tomato that takes 55-65 days to mature. Because they ripen quickly, they’re among the most common tomato varieties you’ll find in the market.

Tomato Qualities

Tigerella tomatoes are popular for their light and crisp flavor. If you like your tomatoes more acidic and savory, Tigerellas may not be for you.

Tomato Size

Tigerellas are small to medium-sized tomatoes weighing 3 to 4 ounces.

Tigerella tomatoes in various stages of ripeness on the vine.

Planting Zones

Tigerella tomatoes are mid-season crops and need a long growing season. They grow well in zones 3-8 as well as USDA Zones 4A-8B.

If you’re outside of these regions, keep in mind they thrive best in temperatures under 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Size and Spacing

Tigerella plants grow 6-7 feet tall and need 4-6 feet of space between rows. Individual plants should be placed 18-36 inches apart and require trellises for support.

Row of tomatoes and support stakes.

Pollination

Tigerella tomatoes are open-pollinated, self-fertile plants that require no outside help from other plants for pollination.

Plant Care

While the Tigerella fascinates many gardeners, it isn’t the easiest tomato to grow. Beginners may want to try their hand at more dependable varieties and get a few tomato seasons under their belt before planting a Tigerella. Experienced tomato growers should pay close attention to the section below about diseases and pests since the Tigerella’s susceptibility to them is what makes it one of the fussier varieties.

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.

Unripe Tigerella tomatoes.

Sunlight

Tigerella plants require at least 8 hours of sunlight every day.

Soil

Tigerella plants need well-draining loamy soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Water

Keep your soil moist, but not soggy. Water regularly to keep the 1-2 inches moist.

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

Tomato plants generally need some pruning/pinching. For the best crops, you’ll need to prune it about 3 to 4 times as it grows.

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.

Disease

Bacterial blight and root rot are the two most common problems for Tigerellas. These diseases cause leaves to turn yellow or die, and can cause the fruit to rot. To prevent them, you’ll need to keep your soil free of weeds and pathogens and not to grow them in an overly moist location.

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

Tomato leaf spot disease.

Pests

Common tomato pests and diseases include nematodes, thrips, aphids, and spider mites (just to name a few).

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

Tigerella plants are especially susceptible to diseases and pests. It’s recommended to isolate and place them some distance away from your other plants. This will give your Tigerellas additional protection while preventing any diseases or pests from spreading to other parts of your garden.

When to Harvest Tigerella Tomatoes

Your Tigerellas will be ready for harvest within 55 to 60 days after transplanting in the garden. You can pick them from the vine when they reach a half-inch to one inch in size and weigh 2 to 4 ounces.

Take note of their color — when they turn red or pale orange (depending on the variety you have), they’re usually ready for harvesting.

Ripe Tigerella tomatoes on the vine.

Common Uses for Tigerella Tomatoes

Tigerella tomatoes can be used for making jams, sauces, and salsas as well as chicken stock, soups, and stews.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

Tigerella tomatoes have a subtle flavor with a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, making them a year-round favorite in some households.

Closeup of picked Tigerella tomatoes.

Cooking

Tigerellas are juicy and succulent, making them perfect for ketchup, sauces, and cooked tomato recipes.

Eating Raw

Tigerella tomatoes are often eaten raw in salads or as garnishes for entrees. They are particularly delicious uncooked and with a sprinkling of salt, pepper and olive oil.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

Tigerella tomatoes can be canned, however, it’s recommended you use a pressure cooker to keep their flavor intact. You can also dry the tomatoes in a dehydrator.

If you freeze them, keep in mind that tomatoes lose some of their texture when frozen. Once thawed, use them for recipes that don’t require a firm texture like stews and sauces.

Recipe Ideas

Here are some recipes for inspiration:

Bon appetit!

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, iron, phosphorus, potassium, beta carotene as well as vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, and K.

They promote healthy skin, improve vision, lower cholesterol, fight inflammation, lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and other illnesses.

Where to Buy Tigerella Tomato Plants or Seeds

Tigerella tomato plants and seeds can be purchased online. They’re also commonly sold in grocery stores during the spring months.

Where to Buy Tigerella Tomatoes

Because this heirloom tomato enjoys a certain degree of popularity, it’s readily available nationwide. You’ll find it in most major grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and even your local roadside stand.

Wrapping Up the Tigerella Tomato

Cluster of unripe Tigerella tomatoes on the vine.

The Tigerella tomato is a great heirloom variety, however, it isn’t for everyone. It’s a fussy plant when it comes to its soil and ambient temperature. But if you’re a gardener who loves a challenge and tomatoes, the Tigerella may just reward you with a bountiful harvest.

Do you grow festive-looking Tigerella tomatoes in your garden? If so, we’d love for you to tell us about your experiences in the comment section below! To read about other tomato varieties, click here for our tomato blog posts.