IN THIS GUIDE
Sungold Tomatoes are an extremely popular tomato variety to grow in UK gardens.
But is this variety the first variety for you? And if you do decide to grow sungolds, how can you make sure that you achieve the very best results? Read on to learn more.
Sungold tomatoes are a type of orange cherry tomato – an FI hybrid variety which is by far the most popular variety of its type to grow in UK gardens. This variety was developed by a Japanese breeder – Tokita Seed Company.
|Official Plant Name||Solanum Lycopersicum|
|Common Name(s)||Sungold Tomato|
|Toxicity||Toxic other than fruits|
|Foliage||Vines with green serrated leaves|
|Flowers||Yellow flowers which bear fruit|
|When To Sow||January, February, March, April|
|Plant Out||May, June|
|Flowering Months||June, July, August, September, October|
|Harvesting Months||August, September, October|
|When To Prune||July, August, September|
Up to 1.4M
June – September
Fertile loam is ideal
Moist but well drained
Neutral / Mildly Acidic
It was introduced to gardeners in the UK in the early 1990s, since when it has become a very popular tomato to grow.
The parent plants for this hybrid are a proprietary and closely guarded secret. But there is some speculation that one of the parents of Sungold is the famous Brandywine heirloom tomato variety, which is considered to be one of the best beefsteak tomatoes to grow.
The Pros of Sungold Variety
Without a doubt, the main reason that so many people choose to grow this tomato variety in their gardens is its taste. It is a particularly sweet tomato, prized for its delicious flavour.
It has a particularly high Brix (sweetness) rating of 9.3, and is considered to be one of the sweetest of all tomatoes.
It is great for salads, and even for eating on its own, straight from the garden as a sweet treat. Kids tend to love them, even when other tomatoes are not for them.
This variety has received a Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit. It is pretty reliable, and regularly produces good yields of around 20-25 fruits per truss, and 120 tomatoes per plant.
They can be grown outdoors, or in a greenhouse or polytunnel. And these plants can be attractive as well as productive. Their bright golden, orange-yellow fruits can look good in your garden.
The Cons of Sungold Variety
One of the main downsides to this tomato variety is that it is an FI hybrid. This means that it will not come true to type from seed.
If you want to save your own seeds from your tomato plants to sow next year, then you will have to choose an heirloom or heritage variety. There are a number of yellow fruited heritage cherry tomato varieties to choose from. ‘Galina’ is one alternative to consider.
One other thing to note is that the skins on the fruits of this tomato are thin, and can split easily. Though this is not usually an issue as you will likely want to eat your tomatoes right away, as soon as they are ripe.
Like other tomato varieties, Sungold can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. If grown as a bush type tomato, the foliage on this variety can become very crowded and this means that fungal infections may be more likely.
Sungold is best grown as a cordon, which does mean that you will have to spend some time thinking about support.
Buying Sungold Seeds or Plants
Since Sungold is such a popular option, you should have no difficulty in sourcing your tomato seeds or plants. These are common at garden centres and easy to find online.
Just make sure that you buy your seeds or plants from a reputable and certified source, so you get what you expect, and do not import problem pests or diseases into your garden.
Where to Grow Sungold Tomatoes
As mentioned above, Sungold tomatoes can be grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel, or outdoors. Like other tomatoes, they need moist yet free-draining, fertile soil, and as much sun and warmth as possible.
Since this is a cordon variety of cherry tomato, one important consideration when choosing a location to grow these tomatoes is how you will provide the necessary support.
Cordon tomatoes must usually be trained up wires, strings or canes, with a single leader, rather than being allowed to bush out. Side shoots will be removed.
One interesting thing to consider is that these can also be grown in containers, and even grown in hanging containers upside down.
Sowing and Planting Sungold Tomatoes
Sungold tomatoes are best sown indoors, before the last frost date in your area.
Typically, they are sown in February or around the beginning of March, then potted up and hardened off before they are planted out into the garden once the weather has warmed, from around the end of May or a little later, depending on the location.
When planting out, you should bury the plants in the soil a little deeper than the level that they were at in their previous pot, burying more of the stem.
This encourages new roots to form on the stem that is now below the ground and leads to a healthier, bigger and stronger root system, and better yields.
Before planting, make sure that you have your cordon supports in place. Since if you try to place these after planting, you risk damaging the young plants or their root systems.
Care Tips For Sungold Tomatoes
Make sure that you keep Sungold tomatoes well watered throughout the growing season.
Try also to ensure that you always water the soil at the base of the plant, where the water is needed – not the foliage. Damp foliage can increase the risk of fungal infections taking hold, and may cause sunscald or other damage to your plants.
Fertilisation is crucial for best results, and you should always choose organic options. Mulch well around your Sungold tomato plants with organic mulch (comfrey leaves work well).
Also feed with a potassium-rich liquid feed every couple of weeks once the flowers and then fruits begin to form. Again, comfrey is a good option – fertilising tomatoes with a comfrey tea works well.
For highest yields, it is also a good idea to think about companion planting. Basil is one plant that is always an excellent companion plant for tomatoes.
A range of other aromatic herbs can also be hugely beneficial. Flowers like marigolds, borage etc. can also be excellent for drawing in pollinators to your vegetable garden and aiding in pest control.
If you are growing under cover then you should try to make sure that there is always access for pollinators during the crucial period. And if there is a lack of pollinators, you may wish to take matters into your own hands to ensure good pollination.
Harvesting Sungold Tomatoes
If you have successfully reared and cordoned your Sungold tomato plants then you should be able to expect to harvest your first tomatoes around the beginning of August. Then over the next couple of months.
Unfortunately, Sungold are not one of the tomato varieties which will ripen up well indoors when picked before maturity. So make sure you let them ripen fully on the vine.
If you grow them well and in the right location, Sungold tomatoes should be a treat for you and your family. While as a cordon type, they might not always be the easiest type of tomato to grow, they can certainly deliver good yields of delicious fruits when handled correctly.
A permaculture garden designer, sustainability consultant and freelance writer, Elizabeth works as an advocate for positive change. She aims to inspire others to reconnect with nature and live in a more eco-friendly way. She also tries to practice what she preaches as she tends her own forest garden, polyculture beds and polytunnel. See her personal website here.