I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of seeing people tout heirloom tomatoes like they are some sort of superior vegetable. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some heirloom varieties, but when did it become such an important thing?
Some people say you should only grow heirlooms because you can’t save seeds from hybrids. But to me, this is just silliness.
#1 – You can save seeds from hybrids (you just don’t know what the baby tomatoes will be like)
#2 – Who cares? It’s unlikely that this is the last year for gardening, and you’ll need to have your own stock of saved seed to carry on to future generations.
Why You Should Grow Hybrids
First-time gardeners, in my experience, have one of two ideas about growing tomatoes. Either, their first garden was a fantastic success and they think it’s super easy (ahem, virgin soil), or their garden flopped and they think they have a brown thumb and can’t ever grow tomatoes.
In reality, growing tomatoes really all comes down to healthy soil, adequate sun, and appropriate watering. If you get all that right, then you can grow any tomato variety successfully.
But if you’ve struggled with growing tomatoes before, perhaps it was the tomato that didn’t suit your garden and not the other way around.
So why hybrids? The short answer is hybrids can be easier to grow and tend to produce more tomatoes. Let’s go into some detail about why this is true.
Hybrid Tomatoes Have Improved Disease Resistance
If you’ve never grown tomatoes before, I’m going to save you some trouble. Your tomatoes will get diseased at some point.
In some areas, the soil harbors fungal wilt diseases, and if you unknowingly choose a variety that isn’t resistant to that disease, your garden might fail no matter what you do.
As a general rule, hybrid tomatoes are bred to improve resistance to a variety of diseases. So even if you don’t know which diseases might be endemic to your area, a hybrid tomato is a great choice.
Pause for an important fact: disease resistance does not mean your plants won’t get diseased. It only means your plants won’t die and will continue to produce despite infection.
Hybrids Are More Heat & Drought Tolerant
If summer temps in your area top 90 degrees F, your tomato plants could stop setting fruit. And forget trying to keep up with watering…especially in container-grown tomatoes.
At some point, your watering is only going to keep your plants alive, but since tomato leaves are inedible, what’s the point if it’s not making fruit?
Choosing a hybrid variety that makes tomato babies even when the summer sun is beating down is the only way to combat this and another reason hybrids make better plants than heirlooms.
Hybrid Tomatoes Can Test Better
The way a tomato tastes has a lot to do with how it’s grown, but genetics also play a major role. From the color of the skin to the sugar concentration and pH, many factors affect the flavor of tomato fruit.
There are some general rules about tomatoes like yellow fruit are lower in acidity but this also tends to make them bland. Cherry tomatoes tend to have higher concentrations of sugar and taste sweet.
Manipulating genetics through breeding can break these rules, so if you want to find a really sweet yellow tomato, start looking into hybrid varieties.
Hybrid Plants Bear Fruit Faster
One of the things that I find most frustrating about tomatoes is how long it can take to get your first ripe fruit. Granted, time to fruit can be affected by a lot of things including weather, time of planting, and age of the plant.
But genetics also play a major role in how long it takes to get ripe fruit from a tomato plant. Heirlooms often take their sweet time, so choosing a quick growing hybrid variety can have you making tomato sandwiches faster than your neighbor.
Hybrids Provide More Tomatoes To Eat
All of the above amounts to more and better tomatoes, and that’s really what we’re all after. However, fruiting potential can also be selectively bred for and some hybrid tomatoes are truly more productive. It’s just in their genes.
Don’t Be An Heirloom Tomato Snob
If you choose only to grow heirlooms because those are the plants that speak to your soul, then go for it. But if you’re only growing them because you think that somehow is better for your garden, then you’ve been misinformed.
Grow what you want to grow, and don’t make gardening harder than it has to be. If you are struggling to get the results you want out of your garden, maybe it’s time to rethink what you’re planting there.