Learn how to grow and care for Indigo Rose Tomatoes. They’re beautiful and full of healthy antioxidants, plus perform well during high heat and drought conditions!
This tomato’s an interesting one! Between the name, the coloring, and its high anti-oxidant and anthocyanin content, Indigo Rose Tomato snags your attention when you come across it for the first time.
The tomatoes on this plant are about 2″ or so when ripe, so they’re a bit too big to be considered a cherry tomato. The tomatoes weigh about 1.5 oz on average, with the larger tomatoes going up to about 2 oz. Variations are natural! These are homegrown tomatoes, so their sizes can range a bit.
You see a lot of words like ‘truly purple’ being thrown around with Indigo Rose tomatoes, but this is a bit deceptive- where the fruits are exposed to the sun, the skin develops a deep, rich shade of purple/black, while the shaded portions of the fruit stay green, then turn red as the fruit ripens. It also is red on the inside.
As Indigo Rose is an open-pollinated variety, it will grow true to seed.
What it is
- Plant: Open-pollinated Tomato
- Determinate or Indeterminate: Indeterminate
- Color: Blue/purple/black flush from sun exposure with the rest of the skin and flesh being orange/red
- Days to Maturity: ~90 days from transplant
- Frost-Hardy: No
- Lifespan: Tender perennial grown as an annual
- When to plant: Start indoors 6-8 weeks before estimated last frost date
- Edible: Yes
- Part Eaten: Fruit
- Requires Support: Yes
Where to buy
There are a few places to buy Indigo Rose tomato seeds- we actually got ours off of etsy, which can be a gamble, at times! For other places to buy Indigo Rose, try Johnny’s Seeds, or simply type ‘indigo rose tomato seeds’ to search on the internet for other sources.
How to grow
Tomatoes are one of those plants that you’ll want to start indoors a good span of time before it’s actually time to plant them outdoors. While those with exceptionally long, warm growing seasons can potentially direct-seed tomatoes outdoors and still get a harvest, many people do not live in a place where this is possible.
On Container Gardening
Most tomatoes can be grown in containers of sufficient size- you will want a very large container, and it should be the only plant in that container, but you can still get a harvest out of it!
Tomatoes in containers have the same light and soil requirements, but fertilizer and water amounts may require adjustments. Water amount, in particular, will be significantly increased, as containers dry out quickly.
Tomatoes in containers can also be brought in for the winter, and set back out again when the weather warms up.
Start your seeds inside 6-8 weeks before your estimated final frost date. The seeds should be covered with 1/4 an inch of soil, and kept evenly warm, moist, and in bright light until the seeds germinate.
Transplant up the seedlings several times as they grow, burying the stem partially each time. This will give them a strong, healthy root system.
Seedlings may require supplementary fertilizing with fish emulsion while growing, depending on the nutrients present in your growing medium.
Once all risk of frost has past outside, it is safe to plant your tomatoes outside. Place the plants 2-3 feet apart from each other. You may want to go ahead and place any stakes, cages, or any other support structures where they should be as you plant.
There is always an ‘ideal’ soil that any specific plant will do their best in, but this doesn’t mean that anything other than that ideal can’t grow tomatoes! It just means that the plant might not be as vigorous, or bear as many fruits.
The ideal soil pH for tomatoes is between 6.0-7.0: just ever so slightly acidic.
Very hard, heavy clay soils can make tomatoes struggle, as their roots can’t easily grow through it. Amend heavy clay soils to have looser soil with compost or, in extreme cases, sand.
Loose and rich soil is the main requirement for tomatoes to be happy- they’ll take off as long as they have those!
Full sun! Give your tomatoes at least 6-8 hours of light a day, especially if you want the purple parts to develop!
When watering, do everything you can to minimize splashing on the leaves- tomatoes are very prone to soil-borne diseases, and splashing muddy soil up on the leaves isn’t good for them!
Water deeply at the base of the plant when you water your tomatoes. You want moist, not sopping wet soil, and you want the water to soak in deep- ideally about 6 inches deep.
How often and how much you’ll need to water is completely dependent on your individual area: it’s a mix of soil type, climate, and how much rain you naturally get in your location. In some parts of the world, you might have to water daily, while in others, once or twice a week is easily enough.
The best thing to do is to feel your soil, then decide if you think your plants need watering or not. If the soil is bone-dry as far down as you can poke your fingers into the soil, it’s a safe bet that your tomatoes need water.
Mulching will reduce the frequency you’ll need to water, and helps to keep the soil evenly moist over longer periods of time.
Fertilize your Indigo Rose Tomatoes when you transplant them to your garden, and then monthly during the growing season with a well-balanced fertilizer – we like Espoma Organic Tomato-tone.
It’s a good idea to put a nice, thick layer of mulch on these tomatoes- in addition to helping with water retention, it helps to keep the weeds down and reduce soil-splashing on the leaves.
We found that Indigo Rose Tomato grows and produces exceptionally well in ultra-hot droughty weather, but still benefitted from mulching.
If you’re new to growing Indigo Rose Tomatoes, it might be hard to tell when they’re ripe enough to harvest.
Indigo Rose Tomatoes are ready to pick when the green parts turn a bright red color, and the tomato is soft when you (gently!) squeeze it.
If you pick one a little early – when the green part has just turned to a light red, you can still eat them, but they’re so much tastier when fully ripe and red!
The purple part may take on a browner or mahogany tone as the tomato ages, but it will still have a purple hue.
What do Indigo Rose Tomatoes taste like?
We find them tasty when fully ripe!
For some odd reason, our first taste-test bites reminded us of plums, but after that it tastes like a standard tomato.
Make sure your tomatoes are properly ripe when you pick them, or they may be more acidic than they should be!
On Soil and Taste
It’s also worth noting that the taste of a tomato can be influenced by your soil. Acidity is also affected by soil! This is why a tomato grown in your garden, when compared to a tomato of the same variety grown in someone else’s garden, can sometimes taste completely different from what you expected.
Under-ripe tomatoes can be set on the countertop to ripen further over the course of several days.
Store your harvested ripe tomatoes in your pantry, storeroom, or countertop. Check them daily for any signs of withering, mold, or spoiling, and compost any bad ones.
Fresh eating is, of course, an option- simply eat them as they are! Another way is to chop them up and add them into salads.
As for more prepared dishes, they can be used in salsas and soups, and in recipes such as fresh tomato sauce for pizza or pasta. They can also be roasted. Recipes that call for cherry tomatoes can have Indigo Rose tomatoes substituted in, keeping in mind that one Indigo Rose tomato is about the size equivalent of two cherry tomatoes.
Some people even make tomato jam- if you just have too many to use in your kitchen, and don’t know what to do with all these tomatoes, then why not give it a try?