Appropriately named for their shape and size, oxheart varieties of tomato can produce fruit that weigh up to three pounds. They are very meaty with few seeds, making them a great slicing tomato. (My dad’s favorite tomatoes are the ones where one slice covers the bread completely, and the oxhearts don’t disappoint.) Their size also makes them a good tomato for stuffing, and since there are few seeds, their meat works well in sauces and salsas.
There are a number of oxheart tomatoes to choose from, including ‘Yellow Oxheart’, ‘Pink Oxheart’, ‘Orange Oxheart’, ‘Bull’s Heart’, ‘Giant Oxheart’, ‘Japanese Oxheart’, the traditional red ‘Oxheart’ shown above and more. Each variety will produce fruit of a different size and/or color. They are all indeterminate plants, meaning they produce fruit throughout the growing season. (More on indeterminate vs. determinate tomatoes here.) We have found that the yield from oxheart tomatoes isn’t as good as some other types, but we still plant one or two each season just because they are so flavorful and juicy. Seed growers are developing these plants to have better production, so as time goes on we should find increasing yields from the plants.
Oxheart tomatoes’ leaves are a little different than typical tomatoes; some are more fern-like and others are what are known as potato-leaf varieties. This and the size of the fruit make them a rather showy plant in the garden.
Botanical name: Lycopersicon esculentum oxheart varieties
Start seeds: Indoors 6 to 8 weeks before last expected frost; transplant after danger of frost has passed
Purchase transplants: When soil temperatures are at least 50˚F
Spacing: 18 to 24 inches apart
Days to maturity: 80 to 90 days after transplanting
Growth habit: Indeterminate; trellis or stake oxheart tomato plants to keep their fruit off the ground
Gardening Jones is a Pennsylvania-based master gardener. Read her other Horticulture posts here and learn more at gardeningjones.com/.
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