Roma tomato: varieties & growing tips


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

Roma tomatoes are found in just about every supermarket. But they are easy to cultivate at home. Here is how you can cultivate Roma tomatoes in your own garden.

A bushel of ripe roma tomatoes rest on a table.
The egg-shaped roma VF tomatoes grow on long vines [Photo: Ion Sebastian/]

Roma tomatoes are plum tomatoes, that, when fully ripe, are often egg or pear-shaped. Here are some of our favourite varieties, and tips on how to get the best out of your plants.

Origin and history of Roma tomatoes

Roma tomatoes were first created in the 1950s by crossing ‘San Marzano‘, ‘Pan American’ and ‘Red Top’ tomatoes. Since then, they have only grown in popularity, with Romas selling well in supermarkets where they are often sold on the vine. Nowadays, all plum and egg-shaped tomato varieties are even referred to as Roma tomatoes. Interestingly enough, however, the original ‘Roma’ no longer exists, having been replaced with disease-resistant and high-yielding hybrids.

Height, taste and other properties

Though Roma plants appreciate the support of a stake, they tend to only grow 160cm tall. Their fruits are medium sized, weigh about 50 to 100g and are oblong. They have thick flesh, few seeds, and are ripe within two weeks. Roma tomato taste can be mild or very tangy, so you will have to spend some time deciding on your favourite! Once you have it though, propagation is easy. After your initial purchase, you need not necessarily buy Roma tomato seeds again: most varieties grow from their own seeds, though look out for ‘F1’ varieties, these are hybrids whose seeds are sterile.

A bunch of striped roman tomatoes are pictured in hay.
‘Striped Roman’ tomatoes boast unique golden lateral stripes [Photo: Lerner Vadim/]

The best roma varieties 

  • ‘Marzino F1′ belongs to the mini Roma tomatoes. Its bright red fruits are three centimetres long and particularly sweet. Unlike normal Roma tomatoes, ‘Marzinos’ are great as a snack.
  • ‘Roma VF’ is a disease-resistant variety of the original ‘Roma’. The monogram ‘VF’ indicates resistance to the fungal pathogens Verticillium and Fusarium. The ‘Roma VF’ grows as a compact bush tomato.
  • The ‘Striped Roman’ is a typical Roma tomato: it has few seeds and dense, grainy flesh. It is ideal for processing into sauces and stews, and tends to have a sweet taste. As its name implies, this variety has unique, yellow stripes.
  • ‘Ukrainian Purple’ is true to its name. A purple, almost plum-coloured tomato, the ‘Ukranian Purple’ was first cultivated in – you guessed it – Ukraine. ‘Ukrainian Purples’ are high yield and tolerant to the cold. They grow well outdoors, and, towards the end of July, will begin to bear sweet, meaty tomatoes.
  • ‘Old Ivory Egg’ is a rare, light-yellow Roma tomato variety. Like most yellow varieties, the ‘Old Ivory Egg’ is very fruity and sweet. If you are growing this variety outside, be sure to protect its fruit from the rain, as they will easily burst.

How to grow Roma tomatoes 

Roma tomato plants are generally easy to please and most varieties are disease-resistant. They can be cultivated in greenhouses from early May, and outdoors or in pots from mid-May. For a high yield, be sure your Roma tomato plants have plenty of sunlight and a healthy soil life. Soils with a lot of humus, like Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, are great! They promote root formation, and, with a high compost content, store water. In this way, the soil acts like an environmentally-friendly peat substitute.

After planting your young plant, lightly press the soil and water, before placing a metal or wooden stick directly next to it for support.

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

Roma tomato care

Tomatoes need a lot of water. One way to help them here is to add a layer of mulch to the soil. Mulch holds water and protects the soil from drying out. This means less watering and juicier tomatoes!

As fruit begins to develop in early June, they will need a lot of nutrients. Fertilising your plants is a good idea. A natural fertiliser with a long-lasting effect, such as Plantura Tomato Food, will slowly decompose in the soil and supply your plant with nutrients over a two month period. This way, your tomatoes will be healthy all season. Roma tomato plants grow well with two or three shoots. Establish the main stem and two other, low stems, before pruning all others.

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

Roma tomato harvest and use

After you harvest your Roma tomatoes, they can be enjoyed in many ways. Roma tomatoes develop few seeds and dense flesh. This makes them perfect for a food processor. And with a low water content, Romas are ideal for spreads, ketchup, and sauces. These tangy tomatoes are just as great served fresh on bread and in salads.

Want to grow new tomato plants from last harvest’s seeds? Here’s an article on how to save tomato seeds and grow new plants from your harvest!

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