Planting disease resistant tomatoes is an important step in promoting healthy plant growth and a large harvest of delicious fruits. Tomato plants can be affected by many plant diseases including early blight, late blight, and verticillium wilt. Tomato breeders work hard to develop disease-resistant tomato varieties to help prevent or reduce the impact of common tomato diseases. When reading seed catalogs or seed packets, read the description carefully to discover if that variety is a disease resistant tomato. Below you’ll discover sixteen delicious, productive, and resilient disease resistant tomatoes like Galahad, Defiant PhR, Purple Zebra, and Sun Gold. Keep reading to learn more.
Why it’s important to plant disease resistant tomatoes
Tomato diseases are widespread and can affect the leaves, stems, roots, and fruits of tomato plants. Some, like early blight reduce yield, while others, like late blight, completely wipe out a crop. Tomato diseases are caused by a variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and water molds. Common infections include early blight, fusarium wilt, septoria leaf spot, verticillium wilt, late blight, and tomato mosaic virus. The first step to preventing these issues is to plant disease resistant tomatoes. Becoming familiar with the signs of diseases, like wilting leaves, will help you take appropriate action when needed. Following good tomato growing practices such as proper spacing, mulching, and bottom watering also goes a long way in disease prevention. More on these practices at the bottom of this article, and visit this piece if you wish to read more about how to identify and control tomato diseases.
16 delicious and resilient disease resistant tomatoes
Tomatoes come in a wide variety of fruit sizes, colors, shapes, and flavors. Below I spotlight 16 outstanding disease resistant slicing, sauce, salad, and cherry tomatoes. Let us know your favorites in the comments below.
Disease resistant tomatoes: slicing types
A fully ripe slicing tomato is perhaps the greatest joy of the summer vegetable garden. Also called beefsteak or globe tomatoes, these hefty fruits make sublime sandwiches and have a rich, balanced flavor.
Galahad (70 days)
If you love Brandywine tomatoes, Galahad is the disease-resistant variety you should grow! This beeksteak-type tomato is one of the best disease resistant tomatoes available. Why? First, the determinate plants grow to 4 feet which is a very manageable size in containers or garden beds. Next, the plants start producing the large fruits by mid-summer so you can enjoy homegrown tomatoes a couple weeks earlier than the popular heirloom variety Brandywine. Plus, the fruits of Galahad, an All-America Selections winner, are rich, meaty, and delicious. Finally, the vigorous plants are resistant to many tomato diseases including early blight, grey leaf spot, tomato spotted wilt virus, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and late blight. They’re even resistant to root knot nematode. Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that damage tomato plants.
Big Beef (70 days)
This is another AAS winner and one that is widely grown by home gardeners for its reliability, large flavorful fruits, and early ripening. The vining plants grow tall and produce dozens of 10 to 12 ounce, rounded fruits. Big Beef has an excellent disease resistance package with the plants holding up against alternaria stem canker, fusarium wilt, gray leaf spot, verticillium wilt, tobacco mosaic virus, and nematodes. Big Beef Plus is an improved hybrid with more sweetness and even better resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus.
To learn more about disease-resistant tomatoes, watch this video:
Cherokee Purple (80 days)
A celebrated heirloom variety, the fruits of Cherokee Purple are medium-large, meaty, and have a rich tomato flavor. The dark burgundy-purple tomatoes are also beautiful and look gorgeous sliced on a plate or into salads. The vining plants grow about 5 feet tall and have resistance to septoria leaf spot.
Disease resistant tomatoes: sauce types
Sauce tomatoes, also called plum or paste tomatoes, are often oval or oblong in shape. They have a lower water content than other types of tomatoes which makes them the best type for making sauces and pastes.
Sunrise Sauce (57 days)
Love a sweet tomato sauce? If so, Sunrise Sauce is the variety for you. The determinate plants grow 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall and are ideal for raised beds or containers. The harvest begins about two months from planting with Sunrise Sauce yielding large amounts of fruits at a time, making it easy to make sauce or salsa. The 3 to 4 ounce, bright gold tomatoes have a meaty texture and thin skin, which peels easily for sauce making. Sunrise Sauce plants are resistant to diseases like fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt.
Roma VF (75 days)
Roma VF is a widely grown sauce, or plum or paste-type, tomato with oval-shaped red fruits. Like most sauce tomatoes they contain little water and are meaty in texture with few seeds. Roma VF plants are determinate and the fruits ripen around the same time which is ideal for processing. The tomato plants are resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and alternaria stem canker.
Disease resistant tomatoes: salad types
Also known as saladettes or cocktail tomatoes, these varieties produce fruits that are about 2 inches across. They’re sweet, juicy, and perfect for salads or enjoying right from the vines.
Defiant PhR (65 days)
Defiant PhR is one of my go-to varieties for disease resistant tomatoes. It offers excellent resistance to late blight and early blight, as well as fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt. Defiant PhR is an early and productive variety that delivers a generous crop of medium-sized, rounded fruits. The determinate plants are compact and can be planted in containers as well as garden beds.
Mountain Magic (66 days)
Mountain Magic is a salad, or cocktail, tomato that produces vibrant red fruits on generous sized trusses. The tomatoes are about 1 3/4 inch in diameter and are sweet and juicy, with low acid levels, and the indeterminate plants grow 6 feet tall with lush green foliage. I first planted Mountain Magic because I read about its disease resistance. Plant it if you’ve had problems with late blight, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, or early blight. I’ve been very impressed with its vigor and the plants remain productive until the first autumn frost.
Purple Zebra (80 days)
This stunning tomato is a 2022 All-America Selections winner prized for its vigor, excellent flavor, and high resistance to diseases like tomato mosaic virus, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, leaf mold, late blight, and tomato leaf curl virus. The plants grow up to 7 feet tall with each producing more than a hundred tomatoes. I have grown Purple Zebra in my polytunnel as well as in my raised garden beds and was wowed by its performance. The plants stayed healthy, even through a very wet summer, and produced lots of 3 to 4 ounce purple and green striped fruits. I also love the rich flavor of Purple Zebra and will definitely be growing this variety again. You may also be interested in Green Zebra, a similar variety with 2 inch diameter green and yellow striped fruits.
Early Girl (60 days)
As the name implies, Early Girl is very early to crop, with the first 4 to 6 ounce fruits ripe and ready just 2 months from transplanting. This hybrid tomato is tolerant of fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt, but it’s also a standout under drought conditions and is less susceptible to blossom end rot. This is a great variety for new tomato growers as the indeterminate plants are reliable and the medium-sized fruits sweet and juicy.
Disease resistant tomatoes: cherry types
Cherry tomato plants are incredibly productive and as the name suggests, produce small fruits in the 1 to 1 1/2 inch diameter range. Cherry tomato plants are usually quicker to crop than large fruited varieties and the tomatoes are sweeter too. There are many small-fruited tomato varieties available and below you’ll discover some the most disease resistant cherry tomatoes to grow.
Sun Gold (57 days)
Sun Gold has been appreciated by tomato growers – like me – for decades! It’s the standard for gold cherry tomatoes with its incredibly sweet fruity flavor, high production, early cropping, and disease resistance. Expect resiliency to fusarium wilt and tomato mosaic virus. Sun Gold is a hybrid variety with indeterminate plants that grow up to 7 feet tall so it’s best to stake or support them on a trellis. The only drawback to Sun Gold is that the cherry-sized fruits crack if left too long on the plants, so make sure to harvest ripe fruits every day or two. It doesn’t take long for a bowl of Sun Gold tomatoes to disappear from the kitchen counter.
Jasper (60 days)
A few years ago my garden was severely affected by late blight and most of my tomato plants succumbed, but Jasper was unfazed. The tall, vining plants kept on producing a bounty of bite-sized cherry fruits until October. I was very impressed by its blight resilience with Jasper showing strong resistance to both late and early blight. This AAS winner yields hundreds of sweet, crack-resistant fruits borne on long trusses.
Apple Yellow (62 days)
This is a unique hybrid with small fruits that look more like bite-sized apples than cherries. The bright yellow fruits are borne on long chains and have a well-balanced sweet-acid flavor and are firm, crack-resistant, and addictive! Apple Yellow plants are indeterminate but grow only about 5 feet tall, which makes them easy to support. They’re resistant to a handful of tomato diseases including fusarium root rot, late blight, tomato mosaic virus, and tomato yellow leaf curl virus.
Chocolate Sprinkles (70 days)
Chocolate Sprinkles gets its curious name from the uncommon colors of the fruits; dark burgundy-red with bold green streaks. The 1 inch wide and 1 1/2 inch long fruits are crack-resistant and delicious. The plants, which are less susceptible to fusarium wilt, tomato mosaic virus, and nematodes, bear long trusses of the sweet tomatoes. Expect vigorous indeterminate growth and a large yield from each plant.
Supersweet 100 (60 days)
This classic cherry tomato variety is a standout for its great taste, prolific yield, and robust plants. The vines grow 6 to 7 feet tall and, like most cherries, produce long chains of the bite-sized fruits. Supersweet 100 is an improved version of Sweet 100, offering better disease resistance and stands up to both verticillium wilt and fusarium wilt. If you want a reliable red cherry tomato, Supersweet 100 is a fantastic variety.
Sweet Treats (75 days)
Have you ever grown pink tomatoes? Sweet Treats is a cherry tomato with a deep pink hue and a fruity, sweet flavor. It’s a few weeks later to mature than Sun Gold and Supersweet 100, but I think it’s worth the wait. The glossy tomatoes are borne in clusters of 12 to 15 on tall, indeterminate plants which are resistant to tomato mosaic virus, fusarium wilt, and leaf mold.
Matt’s Wild Cherry (60 days)
This is an heirloom variety with extra-small fruits that are just a half inch across, yet they have an intense sweet-tart tomato flavor. The sprawling plants are hard to support and because of this, I don’t stake them and instead let them grow into a mound of foliage and fruits. It’s a good idea to harvest often as the overripe tomatoes crack easily. Matt’s Wild Cherry tomatoes are best eaten straight off the vine, tossed into salads, or diced into a garden fresh salsa. The plants have intermediate resistance to early blight and late blight.
Other disease-resistant varieties include Iron Lady, Sweetheart, Juliet, Buffalosun, Mountain Rouge, Plum Perfect, and Patio.
Good practices to follow to support disease resistant tomatoes
Following good garden practices goes a long way to preventing or reducing infections like blight, bacterial spot, and other common tomato diseases. Here are 7 points to keep in mind when growing tomatoes.
- Crop rotate – Avoid planting tomatoes in the same garden bed from year to year as many tomato diseases come from soil-borne pathogens. Rotating tomatoes, and related crops like peppers and eggplant, to a new bed reduces the risk of infection.
- Proper spacing – Overcrowded tomato plants don’t allow to air to flow well between the plants and foliage. Therefore following proper spacing recommendations is an easy way to minimize the risk of diseases.
- Mulching – I mulch my tomato plants at transplanting time with a 3 to 4 inch layer of straw or shredded leaves because it prevents water from splashing soil-borne pathogens onto the foliage.
- Bottom water – Use a long-handled watering wand to direct water to the base of your tomato plants. This is because keeping the leaves dry is an important step to lower the disease risk.
- Staking and supporting – Getting tomato plants off the ground and staked or supported ensure maximum light reaches the foliage, helps dry off the leaves quickly after rain, and keeps the plants from laying on the soil.
- Vigilance – Check your plants every week for signs of diseases such as wilting leaves or brown or yellow spots on the foliage. Staying on top of issues can help you tackle them quickly.
- Sanitation – At the end of the growing season, gather any diseased tomato leaves, plants, and fallen fruits and dispose of them in the trash, not the compost bin. Leaving them in the garden increases the risk of infection the following year.