Read our guide to Roma tomatoes for everything you’ll ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Italian plum tomato”
Have you ever wondered how wonderful it would be to grow your own vegetables and fruits? Are you a fan of those tangy, tasty, relatively small tomatoes in the supermarket? Well, how incredible would it be to grow them in your own yard? This dream can be accomplished so easily, given that Roma tomatoes can be planted and grown in private gardens, and the plants will generate your own tomatoes that will be full of rich taste. Imagine, on a warm summer’s day, you will be able to go to your garden and pick some fresh tomatoes for a delicious salad.
What’s more, the Roma tomato is a type of plum tomato that is well known for its properties as low-moisture and paste tomatoes. This makes them an excellent choice for canning. Some of the best-produced tomato paste and sauce are made from Roma tomatoes, given that they have the right firm and dense texture and slender nature for this type of cooking. Not to mention that Roma tomatoes’ rich flavour actually intensifies when the fruit is heated up and cooked. This is another reason why this type of tomato is the first choice for canning, creating fresh, tasty sauces, pastes, purees, salsas, and more. They are delicious when sun-dried or roasted as well.
So, if you are thinking of whether you should start planting Roma tomatoes or not, you have plenty of reasons to include these fruits in your garden. Plus, no matter if your plant collection doesn’t contain any vegetables and fruits yet. This doesn’t mean you cannot start including them. And why not start with this delicious fruit that is so versatile when it comes to cooking it and produces incredibly delicious products? You will not regret this decision at any point.
In addition, you don’t need to have an extremely large space available for growing Roma tomatoes. Depending on the size of your garden, you can plant as many as you can and want. The important thing is to respect the needs of this variety of paste tomato and inform yourself rigorously on this matter. Only this way can you grow healthy and thriving Roma tomatoes.
So, don’t worry if you are a beginner gardener and are unsure where to start with planting this wonderful Roma tomato. You’ve come to the right place! Regardless of your experience level with gardening, it is crucial to keep learning and gather essential information regarding planting and growing something.
Keep reading to discover more about the rich-flavoured Roma tomatoes, from specific features to tips on growing, planting, watering, and propagating them. We guarantee this experience is worthwhile!
About Roma Tomatoes
- The Roma tomato, also known as Italian plum tomato, is not an entirely Italian tomato variety, despite its name. In fact, this is an American hybrid, created in 1955 by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.
- This being said, the Roma tomato is in part Italian. Given that it is a hybrid, it is a cross between two tomato types. One of them is Pan America, and the other is the flavorful San Marzano, the widely known open-pollinated heirloom cultivar.
- Delicious and with versatile purposes, the Roma tomato is not difficult to cultivate and is a fast-growing tomato, meaning you don’t have to wait too long until you can taste and cook them.
- Roma tomatoes are rich in vitamin A and C, so consuming this type of tomato is a healthy choice, apart from a delicious one.
- Luckily for you, the Italian plum tomato is available throughout the year. Plus, as mentioned earlier, it is a fast-growing tomato plant.
Roma Tomatoes Features: An Overview
- The Roma tomatoes are incredibly versatile. They can be enjoyed eaten fresh, tasting an explosion of flavours, with sweet and tangy being the most prominent ones. The combination is perfectly balanced, which is why the fruit is so delicious.
- While the Roma tomatoes can be eaten uncooked, either by themselves or in a salad, this type of plum tomato is best known for its flavours when cooked. Given its texture and properties, the Roma tomato’s taste intensifies exponentially when slow-cooked, grilled or roasted.
- The Italian plum tomato can grow up to 3 inches (approximately 8 cm) in length, and its shape is cylindrical, like an elongated egg. As for the colour of these plum tomatoes, this can vary. You will be able to find them from orange to deep red as well as a pink shade.
- When it comes to texture, the Roma tomatoes have a smooth and thick skin with a flesh relatively meaty and not as juicy as other tomato varieties. It has a low-moisture texture with not too many seeds, which is why this type of tomato is great for sauces, pastes and so on.
Growing Roma Tomatoes
Wondering how to grow Roma Tomatoes? This gardening activity is not too different from caring for and growing regular tomatoes. However, when it comes to growing the Italian plum tomato, it is good to know that there are fewer challenges because they are resistant to two of the most common diseases that affect tomatoes, fusarium and verticillium wilt.
After you plant the Italian plum tomato, it is vital to keep an eye on it and witness its growth. This is important because as soon as your Roma tomatoes reach a length of 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30.5 cm), you must stake them up to support the plant’s growth off the ground. The Roma tomato matures in about 73 to 80 days since you plant it in either spring or summer. To grow best, tall and healthy, it requires direct sunlight for 6 to 8 hours every day, and you must plant it 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91 cm) apart.
A noteworthy mention would be that you can easily grow Roma tomatoes in pots as well. One of the most important aspects to consider if you choose this method is to use pots made of fabric. This way, better drainage and root aeration are ensured
Planting Roma Tomatoes
Before you start planting Roma tomatoes, it is important to know a few essential details about this process. This is to make sure that the plant will grow thriving and have tasty and healthy fruits so that you can consume them however you want, whether eaten fresh, slow-cooked or grilled.
First things first. Start by preparing the soil for your Italian plum tomato. What this means is adding compost or a fertilizer with slow-release before planting the seeds in soil with a pH level between 6.2 and 6.5, so acidic. Some gardeners put lime or Epsom salts in the planting hole as it might be beneficial for the Roma tomato, given that it supports calcium uptake and lowers the risk of future problems, such as blossom end rot.
- Name: Roma VF Tomato | Type: Heirloom
- Size at Maturity: 6 oz | Days to Maturity: 90 Days | Light Requirement: Full Sun
- Planting Time: Warm Season | Sowing Method: Start Indoors
- Planting Depth: 1/2" | Plant Spacing: 18"
- Great Canning Tomato - Roma Tomatoes are grown for their rich taste that is perfect for preserving in tomato sauce and tomato paste.
- Container or Garden Tomato - These meaty tomatoes grow to about 3" long. Prolific, compact vines are perfect for container gardens.
- Grow Now or Later - Plant now or store for future growing seasons. Will remain viable for years if stored in a cool dry location. Each packet has instructions for saving seeds so you can perpetuate your harvest and share with others.
- Easy to Grow - Seeds are packed in a beautiful paper packet with instructions for successful growing and germination in your own home garden. Getting started is simple for both beginner and experienced gardeners.
- Quality Seeds - Safe, non-hybrid non-GMO heirloom seeds proudly sourced in the USA for your family to plant and grow for years to come. Open-pollinated, naturally grown and selected to ensure the best germination rates.
- Beautiful -- Large full-color packet of Roma Tomato seed; A determinate variety with compact vines traditionally grown for tomato paste and sauce. An abundant harvest of thick-walled, meaty, bright red, egg-shaped tomatoes about 3 inches long with small seed cavities. Great for canning or eating fresh. Minimum of 100mg per packet (approximately 45 seeds).
- Great Variety -- Home-grown heirloom tomatoes have so much more flavor than supermarket hybrid varieties, And heirloom tomatoes come in such a wide range of shapes including cherry, beefsteak, grape, paste, roma, and in many more colors than red, including yellow, purple, black, pink, white or even green.
- Good Eats -- These tomatoes are divine simply sliced and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. But don’t stop there; mix with fresh mozzarella and basil for a summertime salad or bruschetta, make fresh pico, a tomato tart, smoky and spicy tomato jam, or preserve them (dried or canned) for a shot of garden flavor in deep winter.
- Easy to Grow -- Instructions on to start indoors early included on each packet with additional growing tips, harvest instructions, recipes, etc. under the “How To” section of our website. Plus we are available to answer your questions as well. If these seeds don’t germinate, we will happily make it “Right” for you.
- Safe Seed -- Sow Right Seeds has taken the Safe Seed Pledge and sells only fresh Non-GMO heirloom seeds that are safe for you and your family.
Next, water the Italian plum tomato quite regularly – once a week is a must, but you can sometimes water them more than that. It all depends on how fast the plant matures. It is a fast-growing tomato, so it is crucial to supervise it rigorously, especially in the first few weeks.
Preparing the soil with a loose potting mix of organic material is crucial if you want to plant Roma tomatoes in a material pot. An essential and noteworthy mention in regards to planting Roma tomatoes in pots is to place the stakes beforehand to support the plant’s vertical growth. This way, your Italian plum tomato has what it needs to grow well and healthy. Place the pot in a place where the tomatoes can receive from 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.
Watering Roma Tomatoes
As mentioned earlier, watering the Roma tomato should take place at least once a week, especially in its growth period. Shallow watering should be avoided. Instead, deep watering once per week is highly recommended. This can prevent issues like blossom end rot and split skins from appearing. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance to water the Roma tomato carefully and not in a shallow manner and only to the surface. Therefore, make sure you water the plant well at the root ball and lowest roots.
Propagating Roma Tomatoes
You can propagate Roma tomatoes from seeds. And don’t worry if you have little to no experience doing this, as you can learn how to grow and propagate this type of tomato from seed in a step-by-step guide. This is as follows:
- The recommendation is to start the seed indoors before the last frost within 6 to 8 weeks.
- Preparation for outdoor planting consists of hardening off seedlings progressively.
- Transplant them outdoors during nighttime, when the temperatures aren’t lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
- In relatively extreme weather conditions such as wind or humidity, it is highly advised to use a cloche or plant cover.
- The planting requirements are the same as discussed above.
- Because moisture is essential for the Roma tomato, you must ensure it. This is accomplished by adding natural mulch, which can also keep the plant’s weeds down.
- After approximately 70 or 80 days, you will witness the fruits ripening.
Roma Tomatoes Common Pests and Diseases
Growing Roma tomatoes is a rewarding activity as you’ll be able to enjoy these delicious fruits. An important part of caring for Roma tomatoes, and any type of tomato in general, consists of keeping an eye out for pests and diseases.
Now, if you notice one or two insects near your plants, you don’t have to worry too much and you shouldn’t rush buying insecticides, as they might not be the best option. There are many beneficial insects that will be attracted to your tomato plants and that would suffer greatly if you apply insecticides or other toxic substances. That being said, let’s take a look at some of the most common pests and diseases that affect tomato plants.
Aphids – A very common pest in gardens around the world, Aphids shouldn’t be ignored. They are not the most dangerous pest out there, but they can definitely wreak havoc when left to their own devices. One effective way to manage aphid infestations is by releasing beneficial insects such as lacewings and ladybugs, which enjoy munching on Aphids. Another thing you can do is spray your plants with the hose and wash the Aphids off. You can find out more about avoiding and treating Aphid infestations from our guide to Aphids.
Cutworms – Young tomato plants and seedlings can suffer greatly due to cutworms which won’t hesitate too much on your plants if given the opportunity. To prevent cutworms from reaching your seedlings, you can place collars around them. These collars can be made of cardboard, paper, or aluminium foil and should be at least 10 cm high (4 inches).
Flea Beetles – These insects can be quite devastating for tomato plants as they attack in two different ways. The adult flea beetles eat munch on the foliage of the plants while their larvae prefer the roots. If you have a vegetable garden, watch out for flea beetles, as they are a common pest not just for tomatoes but also for eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and other members of the Solanaceae family. To minimize the damage, you can use yellow sticky traps, row covers, diatomaceous earth, and beneficial nematodes that will feed on the flea beetles.
Hornworms – It is easy to notice hornworms as they are quite large – 7 cm or more which makes picking them up an easy task. It is indicated to pick them up whenever you notice them. If the infestation is severe, it’s indicated to use other organic treatments that target caterpillars.
Nematodes – Gardeners worldwide agree that nematodes are among the most dreaded tomato pests. While there are many harmless nematodes, the ones that damage tomato plants more often are known as root-knot nematodes. These pests attack tomato crops and prevent the plants from carrying out their natural photosynthesis process. The best way to avoid root-knot nematodes is by rotating the crops and sterilizing the soil.
Whiteflies – You can easily notice whitefly infestations by checking the plants for sticky residue, also known as honeydew. This substance can trigger other issues such as sooty mould. Whiteflies can be removed with sticky traps, horticultural oil, and by washing the plants.
In terms of plant diseases, tomato plants can suffer from over 30 different problems and you can find more info about each of them here. All gardening experts agree that the best treatment is prevention so, to avoid tomato diseases and pests, it is important to take a few essential preventive measures.
- Use high-quality soil and fertilizer when growing tomatoes.
- Water your tomatoes thoroughly and regularly.
- Keep your garden tidy and free of weeds, debris, and damaged or diseased plants.
- Only use clean tools to prevent spreading diseases.
- Pull unhealthy plants and prune the affected foliage.
- Don’t use unhealthy plants as compost.
- Don’t plant tobacco plants alongside tomato plants to avoid the spread of the tobacco mosaic virus. Read our guide about companion plants to find out what the best planting combinations are.
- Be aware of the fact that damp conditions are often favourable for fungal plant diseases such as blight, leaf spot diseases, fusarium wilt, and verticillium. To prevent fungal infections, water your plants in the morning, use drip watering systems, and use mulch.
Who wouldn’t want to grow Roma tomatoes in their garden? Having these tasty and rich-flavoured tomatoes in your backyard is worth all the time you put in growing and caring for them. Plus, once you assimilate all the information and the Italian plum tomato’s requirements to thrive, you don’t have to worry about not having a healthy plant with delicious fruits. With passion and commitment, you can grow Roma tomatoes impeccably, both in a garden or a material pot.
Don’t hesitate to tell us about your experience with planting and growing Roma tomatoes!