Roma tomatoes are one of the most famous varieties of tomato, and you’ve probably seen them on canned tomato goods or mentioned in Italian recipes.
They are not all that different from regular tomatoes in terms of care, but when growing Roma tomatoes there are a few specifics you should keep in mind to ensure that they thrive and produce impressive harvest.
Our growing Roma tomatoes guide takes you from planting to harvesting!
Read on to learn more about this popular tomato, its many cultivars, and how to grow Roma tomatoes in your raised beds, containers, and garden beds.
What is a Roma Tomato?
Roma tomatoes are a specific type of tomato that are generally used to make tomato paste. They have a lower water content, a thicker fruit wall, dense flesh, and generally have fewer seeds compared to other types of tomato.
All of these characteristics make them well suited for creating concentrated tomato pastes and sauces, and so they are typically used for cooking, canning, and freezing.
Different Cultivars of Roma Tomatoes
Roma tomatoes are determinate, meaning that the plant has a predetermined size it will grow to before setting its fruit, which all ripen around the same time in one main harvest.
Also called Italian plum tomatoes, there are a number of cultivars to choose from within the Roma tomato group. Here are some popular varieties:
1: ‘San Marzano’
A very famous heirloom variety of Roma tomato, San Marzano fruits are a rich red color and shaped like a plum.
Their flesh is meaty and dense, making each individual fruit quite heavy at around 5 – 6 ounces. They are crack-resistant and mature approximately 80 days from seed.
A heirloom variety that produces large tomatoes. Supposedly the tomato that started the famous ketchup brand, and it is still a popular choice for making sauces and salsas. They mature 75-80 days from seed.
3: ‘Viva Italia’
This heat loving variety produces longer fruits about 72 days from planting. They are high yielding and have a sweet flavor that makes them tasty raw as well as cooked. The fruits are around 3-4 ounces each.
4: ‘La Roma’
An early producing variety of tomato whose fruits weigh in between 3 and 4 ounces. The plants are fairly compact and suitable for container growing. Resistant to two types of Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt, and Tomato Mosaic Virus.
5: ‘Cream Sausage’
These longer fruits are approximately 3 inches long when mature with a slightly pointed tip, and their ripe color is a creamy yellow.
Their bushy plants are very high yielding and do not need to be staked or trellised, making them suitable for containers.
6: ‘Sunrise Sauce’
A hybrid tomato that produces an early harvest of orange fruits. Highly resistant to one type of Fusarium wilt and Verticillium wilt.
Fruits weigh around 4 to 6 ounces, and are known for having a rich flavor that develops when cooked down. Matures in 50- 60 days.
Growing Guide for Roma Tomatoes
Growing Roma tomatoes follow the same growing guidelines as most other types of tomato, but as they are determinate there are some specific care instructions to be followed.
Unlike indeterminate tomatoes, determinate tomatoes do not need to be constantly pruned throughout the season.
Here are the main stages and steps that make up the care cycle for Roma tomatoes:
Stage One: Preparing to Plant
1: Plant your tomato seeds
2: Select the best location for your tomatoes
3: Let your seedlings acclimatize to the outdoors
4: Prepare tomato cages, if needed by your variety.
Stage Two: Transplant your Roma Tomatoes
1: Wait until temperatures are sufficiently warm
Once nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50℉, you can transplant your Roma tomato plants outside. No varieties are frost tolerant so make sure all risk of freezing temperatures has passed.
2: Dig holes for your seedlings
3: Bury & water your seedlings
Stage Three: Mid-season Care and Maintenance for Roma Tomatoes
1: Soak your Roma tomatoes 2 – 3 times a week
2: Fertilize once a month through the growing season
3: Mulch or weed around your plants
4: Treat pest and disease issues as they arise
Stage Four: Harvesting Roma Tomatoes
1: Check for ripeness
2: Check the weather forecast
3: Twist and tug tomatoes off the vine
4: Top plants at the end of the season
Tips for Growing Roma Tomatoes
Maja is a freelance content writer and avid gardener currently based in Southern Sweden. She gained her BA in Environment and Geography in Montreal, Canada, which is also where she first learnt about the detriments of the industrialized agricultural system. During the summer she began farming through the WWOOF program, and over the next six years has continued to grow and learn at a number of organic farms and gardens across the US and Canada. She is passionate about the role of regenerative agriculture in wildlife conservation and climate change mitigation, and thinks growing your own food is a key part of revolutionizing the system. In her free time she likes to read, garden, and pet nice dogs.