Brandywine tomato: varieties, cultivation & care


I studied horticultural sciences at university and in my free time you can find me in my own patch of land, growing anything with roots. I am particularly passionate about self-sufficiency and seasonal food.

Favourite fruit: quince, cornelian cherry and blueberries
Favourite vegetables: peas, tomatoes and garlic

Despite its dramatic appearance, the ‘Brandywine’ tomato variety is easy to cultivate. Here is everything you need to know about this heirloom variety.

ripe brandywine tomatoes hang
The ‘Brandywine’ variety are mostly large, ribbed beef tomatoes [Photo: PosiNote/]

The ‘Brandywine’ tomato family, has something for everyone. Each variety has a unique taste, size, shape and colour. Read on for the best ‘Brandywine’ tomato varieties and some top tips on cultivating this aromatic fruit at home.

‘Brandywine’ tomato: a profile

FruitBeefsteak tomato; comes in a variety of colours
FlavourFruity, sweet, spicy
Ripening timeMidseason
GrowthIndeterminate, up to 180cm in height
LocationGreenhouse, outdoors

Origin and history

Despite its popularity, ‘Brandywine’ has a mysterious history. First developed in the US, ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes were submitted to the Seed Savers Exchange Association around 1982 by a tomato enthusiast from Ohio called Ben Quisenberry. He is said to have received the seeds from Dorris Sudduth Hill, whose family (allegedly) cultivated the tomato for over 80 years. Unfortunately, no one knows whether the ‘Brandywine’ was cultivated from a commercial variety or appeared as an entirely new variety. Nevertheless, since the 1980s, the ‘Brandywine’ tomato has only grown in popularity.

‘Brandywine’ tomato: the best varieties

Every year the Brandywine tomato family expands. So much so, in fact, that the original ‘Brandywine’ tomato now has its own name: ‘Pink Brandywine’.

Here is collection of some of the best ‘Brandywine’ tomato varieties on the market:

  • ‘Pink Brandywine’ the original ‘Brandywine’ tomato. At 700g, pink ‘Brandywin’s’ fruits are heavyweights. This variety has similar leaves to a potato plant, and fruits that turn deep pink when ripe. The tomatoes, when ripe taste very fruity and aromatic, and are covered in soft, melting flesh.
  • Red Brandywine is, as the name implies, a bright red tomato. This beefsteak does not have potato leaves like the ‘Pink Brandywine’, and its fruit tends to be smaller in comparison – usually reaching about 250g. ‘Red Brandywine’ tomatoes ripen in August and their unique, fruity taste is a welcome addition to any plate.
  • Yellow Brandywine is a real heavyweight, with fruits that weigh up to 800g. This variety produces fruity-sweet, aromatic tomatoes, and produces potato-leaved foliage.
  • Apricot Brandywine is similar in colour to a persimmon, but gains a slight, red tint when ripe. These aromatic, beefsteak tomatoes weigh on average 400g, and have a thick, melting flesh.
  • Purple Brandywine was created in 1998 by crossing ‘Brandywine’ with ‘Marizol Purple’. ‘Purple Brandywine’ tomatoes are dark pink to light purple and have potato-leaved foliage.
  • Black Brandywine is a potato-leaved, late-maturing, and dark red to deep brown beefsteak tomato. ‘Black Brandywine’ tomatoes are slightly smaller and lighter than other ‘Brandywine’ varieties, at around 350g. The tomatoes are typical dark tomatoes: spicy, sweet and fruity.
  • Cherry Brandywine is a relatively new variety. Cultivated in 1998, this cherry tomato is small, pink and aromatic.
 three black brandywine tomatoes
The ‘Black Brandywine’ is a dark tomato variety of the original ‘Brandywine’ [Photo: Oleg Mayorov/]

Characteristics and ‘Brandywine’ tomato taste

‘Brandywine’ tomato plants grow 4 to 4.5m tall. They form large, ribbed fruits, that, aside from ‘Cherry Brandywine’, are beefsteak tomatoes. Their foliage often resembles that of a potato, and their seeds germinate early in the year. ‘Brandywine’ varieties are best known for their intense aroma and unique taste, which is fruity, sweet and spicy. All ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes are heirloom varieties, so you can propagate them at home by saving the seeds.

How to grow ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes

‘Brandywine’ tomato plants are very hardy and often disease resistant. They grow particularly well in greenhouses and outdoors, although they do need protection from the rain so that they do not burst. 

If you have one, move your ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes to a greenhouse towards the beginning of May. Otherwise, wait until there is no chance of frost before moving the fruit plants outside. To plant a ‘Brandywine’ tomato plant, dig a deep hole and place in your seedlings. Fill the hole with nutrient-rich soil and water thoroughly. Our Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost will provide your plants all the minerals and nutrients they need to produce beautiful fruits and flowers.

Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
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  • 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

‘Brandywine’ tomato plants grow best with only one or two shoots. As such, break off any side shoots early and regularly prune your tomato plants. Because of their heavy fruit, the plants will also need to be tied to a support and, from June, fertilised. Plantura Tomato Food is a great natural fertiliser, which ensures your tomatoes receive enough nutrients to grow.

How to harvest and use ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes

‘Brandywine’ tomatoes are great freshly sliced on bread and burgers. However, they also work well in soups and sauces too!

Tomato Food, 1.5kg
Tomato Food, 1.5kg
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  • Perfect for tomatoes, chillies, courgettes, cucumber & more
  • For healthy plants & an abundant tomato harvest
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Should you use a greenhouse? How big should it be? Here are some tips on growing tomatoes in greenhouses.

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