Everything You Need to Know About Cherokee Purple Tomatoes: From History to Harvesting


Cherokee Purple tomatoes are a popular variety of purple heirloom tomatoes that are beloved by gardeners and food enthusiasts alike. They are known for their unique color, rich flavor, and meaty texture. If you’re new to gardening or haven’t tried growing Cherokee Purple tomatoes before, you’re in for a treat.

In this article, we’ll cover the history, characteristics, taste, nutritional benefits, growing tips, common pests and diseases, frequently asked questions and much more about Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

Cherokee InformationDescription
Common NameCherokee purple tomato
Cherokee Purple tomatoSolanum lycopersicum ‘Cherokee purple’
Plant TypeVine fruit, annual
Mature SizeVines to 9 ft. long, 2-3 ft. wide
Sun ExposureFull sun
Soil TypeWell draining loam
Soil pHAcidic
Bloom TimeMid-summer
Flower ColorYellow
Hardiness ZonesGrown as an annual across zones
Native AreaAndes Mountains, South America
ToxicityLeaves and stems toxic to pets

History of Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Cherokee Purple Tomatoes have a fascinating history. They are believed to have originated with the Cherokee people, who lived in what is now the southeastern United States. 

The story goes that a Cherokee woman named Nancy Green discovered the seeds for the tomato in the late 1800s and passed them down through her family for generations. 

The tomato eventually made its way to the mainstream in the 1990s, and it has been a popular heirloom variety ever since.

Nutritional Benefits of Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. They also contain antioxidants that help to protect your cells from damage.

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are a rich source of antioxidants that are known to offer protective benefits to the body by preventing cellular damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals. 

Eating a diet rich in tomatoes has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.

Characteristics and Appearance of Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Characteristics and Appearance

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are known for their distinctive appearance and characteristics. The fruit of the Cherokee Purple tomato plant is medium to large, typically weighing between 10-12 ounces

The tomatoes are round or slightly oblate, with a slightly flattened shape, and have a deep purple color. The flesh is dense and meaty, with a unique flavor that is both sweet and slightly acidic.

One of the most striking features of Cherokee Purple tomatoes is their skin, which has a dusky, purplish-black color that is often compared to the color of an eggplant. The skin is also quite thin, making it easy to remove if desired.

In terms of growth, the Cherokee Purple tomato plant is indeterminate, meaning that it will continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the growing season. The plants can grow quite tall, often reaching heights of 5-6 feet or more, so they may require staking or other support.

Despite their unique appearance and characteristics, Cherokee Purple tomatoes are relatively easy to grow and care for, making them a popular choice among home gardeners and farmers alike.

Taste and Culinary Uses of Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Taste and Culinary Uses of Cherokee purple tomatoes

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are prized for their unique and complex flavor profile. They have a rich, sweet taste that is often described as having a smoky or earthy undertone. The acidity level of the fruit is balanced, giving the tomato a pleasant and slightly tart finish.

The meaty texture of Cherokee Purple tomatoes makes them ideal for a variety of culinary uses. They are excellent for slicing and using in sandwiches, or adding to salads and other dishes. The rich, deep color of the tomatoes also makes them a beautiful addition to any plate.

Because of their unique flavor, Cherokee Purple tomatoes are a popular choice for use in sauces, salsas, and other savory dishes. They can also be roasted or grilled to enhance their flavor even further.

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are also a great choice for canning or preserving. Their dense flesh holds up well during the canning process, and their unique flavor profile adds depth and complexity to any recipe.

Overall, the taste and culinary uses of Cherokee Purple tomatoes make them a favorite among home cooks and professional chefs alike. Their versatility and flavor make them an ideal choice for any dish that calls for tomatoes.

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Growing Cherokee Purple Tomatoes: A Step-by-Step Guide

Growing Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are a beautiful and delicious heirloom variety that can be easily grown in your backyard or garden. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  • Choose a sunny location: Cherokee Purple tomatoes need full sun, which means they require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. To achieve optimal growth and yield, choose a location that receives abundant sunlight and has well-draining soil when planting Cherokee Purple tomatoes.
  • Prepare the soil: Before planting Cherokee Purple tomatoes, prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris and tilling the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. Add organic matter such as compost, aged manure, or peat moss to the soil to help improve soil fertility and drainage.
  • Start seeds indoors: You can start Cherokee Purple tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Plant the seeds in small pots or trays filled with a high-quality potting mix, and keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate.
  • Transplant seedlings: Once the seedlings have grown to 2-3 inches tall and have at least two sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted into the garden. Transplant Cherokee Purple tomato seedlings on a cloudy day or in the late afternoon to avoid exposing them to direct sunlight.
  • Plant in the garden: Dig a hole in the prepared soil that is slightly larger than the root ball of the seedling. Gently remove the seedling from the pot and place it in the hole, making sure to plant it deep enough so that the bottom set of leaves is just above the soil level. Water the seedling immediately after planting.
  • Provide support: Cherokee Purple tomato plants can grow quite tall and require support as they grow. Stakes, cages, or trellises can all be used to support the plants and prevent them from falling over.
  • Water regularly: Water the plants regularly, aiming to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Inconsistent watering can lead to blossom end rot, a common issue in tomato plants.
  • Fertilize: Cherokee Purple tomato plants benefit from regular fertilization throughout the growing season. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer or a fertilizer specifically designed for tomatoes, following the instructions on the label.
  • Prune: Remove any suckers that grow between the stem and the branch of the plant. This will help focus the plant’s energy on producing fruit rather than foliage.
  • Harvest: Cherokee Purple tomatoes will be ready to harvest approximately 80-90 days after planting. The fruit should be deep purple in color and slightly soft to the touch. Gently twist the fruit off the vine to avoid damaging the plant.

By following these steps, you can grow your own delicious Cherokee Purple tomatoes and enjoy their unique flavor all season long.

Common Pests and Diseases of Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Common Pests and Diseases of Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

While Cherokee Purple tomatoes are relatively easy to grow, they can be susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases that can affect their growth and yield. Here are some of the most common pests and diseases that can affect Cherokee Purple tomatoes and how to prevent or treat them:


These small, soft-bodied insects can cluster on the leaves and stems of tomato plants, causing damage by sucking the sap from the plant. To prevent aphids, keep the garden area clean and free of debris, as this can attract aphids.

You can also introduce natural predators such as ladybugs or lacewings to the garden to control aphids. If an infestation occurs, you can use a strong spray of water to wash the aphids off the plant or use an insecticidal soap.

Tomato hornworms

These large, green caterpillars can quickly defoliate a tomato plant. They are easy to spot because of their size and the damage they cause. To prevent tomato hornworms, check plants regularly and remove any caterpillars you find by hand. You can also introduce natural predators such as parasitic wasps or use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) as a natural insecticide.

Fusarium wilt

This is a fungal disease that can cause yellowing of the leaves, wilting, and stunting of the plant. To prevent fusarium wilt, rotate crops every year and avoid planting tomatoes in the same location for more than two years in a row. You can also use disease-resistant varieties of tomato plants and avoid overhead watering.

Blossom End Rot

This is a common disorder that causes a black, sunken area at the bottom of the fruit. It is caused by a lack of calcium in the plant. To prevent blossom end rot, water the plants regularly and consistently, and avoid letting the soil dry out completely. You can also add calcium to the soil before planting or use a calcium-rich foliar spray.

Early blight

This is a fungal disease that causes dark spots on the leaves, which can eventually lead to the defoliation of the plant. To prevent early blight, water the plants at the base and avoid getting water on the leaves. You can also use disease-resistant varieties of tomato plants and avoid overcrowding plants.

By monitoring your Cherokee Purple tomato plants regularly and taking steps to prevent or treat pests and diseases, you can ensure a healthy and bountiful harvest.

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In conclusion, Cherokee Purple tomatoes are a fascinating and delicious variety of heirloom tomatoes that are well worth growing. They have a rich history, unique flavor, and numerous nutritional benefits.

If you’re looking to add some variety to your tomato garden, or simply want to try something new in the kitchen, give Cherokee Purple tomatoes a try. With a little care and attention, you’ll be rewarded with a bountiful harvest of tasty, nutritious tomatoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Cherokee Purple tomato taste like?

Cherokee Purple tomatoes have a rich, complex flavor that is sweet and tangy. They have a smoky, earthy taste that is unique among tomato varieties.

How many tomatoes will a Cherokee Purple produce?

A single Cherokee Purple plant can produce dozens of tomatoes over the course of a growing season.

How tall does Cherokee Purple tomato get?

Cherokee Purple tomato plants are indeterminate and can grow quite tall, often reaching heights of 6-8 feet or more.

Is Cherokee Purple tomato a hybrid?

No, Cherokee Purple tomatoes are not a hybrid variety. They are an heirloom variety that has been passed down through generations.

Where do Cherokee Purple tomatoes grow best?

Cherokee Purple tomatoes grow best in warm, sunny climates with well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients. They are suitable for both outdoor and indoor growing, depending on your location and available resources.

Are Cherokee Purple tomatoes any good?

Yes, Cherokee Purple tomatoes are highly regarded for their unique flavor, meaty texture, and rich color. They are a popular variety among gardeners, chefs, and food enthusiasts.

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