Tomato pepper: planting, care & varieties


As a horticulture student I mainly studied crops and cultivation techniques. It fascinates me how many diverse plants can grow from small, nearly identical seeds.

Favourite fruit: blueberries, grapes, raspberries, pears
Favourite vegetables: mushrooms, peppers, kohlrabi, onions, garlic

A tomato pepper is not a cross between a tomato and a pepper, as implied by the name, but it is actually a pepper that is shaped somewhat like a tomato.

petite tomato peppers on cloth
These fruits that resemble tomatoes actually grow from a pepper plant [Photo: Geshas/]

Tomato peppers are pepper varieties (Capsicum annuum) that strangely resemble tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), or rather beef tomatoes. In this article you will learn what differentiates the tomato pepper and tips for growing it yourself.

Tomato peppers: origin and properties

The tomato pepper is also known as the Hungarian tomato pepper. Originally from Hungary, this pepper variety differs from other peppers in shape, size and even taste.
Many of the tomato pepper varieties have a slightly thicker skin and sweeter taste. The size is comparable to a beef tomato.

sliced tomato pepper reveals seeds
A tomato pepper is about the same size as a beef tomato [Photo: Masha Gurinovich/]

The best tomato pepper varieties

If you want to grow a Hungarian tomato pepper at home, you will notice that despite the many different varieties available, the seed and seedling suppliers often do not provide variety names. We have put together a selection of tomato pepper varieties for you, all of which are also suitable for growing outdoors:

  • ˈTommyˈ: harvest time from July; aromatic-sweet taste; very high-yielding, thick-walled variety
  • ˈTopgirlˈ: harvest from August; medium-sized fruits; sweet to spicy
  • ‘Topepo Rosso’: harvest from August; sweet taste; 8 – 10 cm flat fruits
  • ˈZsuzsannaˈ: harvest from July; very sweet; quite small; grows well in pots
  • ˈTopepo Gialloˈ: harvest time from August; rather sweet and juicy; yellow when ripe
  • ‘Chocolateˈ: harvest from August; mild and aromatic; small growth habit; large brown fruits
planting tomato pepper seedling
Tomato peppers grow well in pots on the balcony or terrace [Photo: PT Pictures/]

Plant and grow tomato peppers yourself

Like other pepper varieties, tomato pepper varieties like a sunny location with loose, nutrient and humus-rich soil. Tomato peppers grow really well in pots. When planting, use a pre-fertilised, high-quality soil, such as our peat-free Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, so that your plants have enough nutrients available from the start. Mix in about 30% expanded clay, gravel or other coarse material to the soil to ensure sufficient drainage.

Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder star-placeholder
star-rating star-rating star-rating star-rating star-rating
  • Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables such as chillies, courgettes & more
  • For strong & healthy plant growth as well as an abundant vegetable harvest
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Tomato peppers can be started indoors between February and April. Sow tomato pepper seeds 1cm deep in little pots filled with seed compost, such as our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost. Keep moist. The young plants will germinate after 10 to 14 days at 25 °C with high humidity. As soon as your tomato pepper seedlings have formed two true leaves after the two cotyledons, prick them out and transplant them into a more nutrient-rich soil. Tomato peppers are ready to live outdoors from early May, but they can be grown in greenhouses even earlier.

Tomato pepper care

Tomato peppers are heavy feeders, so they require slightly more nutrients. Fertilise the tomato pepper with either granulate or liquid fertiliser, depending on whether it is grown in a pot or bed. Our Plantura Tomato Food is great for pepper plants because it has a long-term effect that directly supplies your tomato pepper plant with the right nutrients from planting onwards, lasting about three months.

fertilising tomato pepper in pot
Since peppers are heavy feeders, they require a good fertiliser

To help the pepper plant grow thicker and stronger, it is a time-honoured practice to break off the first flower. Be sure to water the tomato pepper regularly, especially during dry periods, but avoid waterlogging.

Harvest and usage

Depending on when the tomato pepper was planted, you can expect a harvest between August and October. The fruits will have a smooth skin and become completely red, yellow or brown, depending on the variety.

The Hungarian tomato pepper is used in various dishes, so it is sometimes available in stores as pickles. Like regular peppers, tomato peppers can be eaten raw, added to salads or cooked into soups and stews.

sliced tomato pepper shows seeds
Tomato peppers are about the same size as beef tomatoes [Photo: Masha Gurinovich/]

If you have harvested your tomato peppers but do not want to eat them right away, it makes sense to store them.