Helping You Become a More Successful Gardener
James H. Schutte
LYCOPERSICON esculentum 'Big Zebra'
Big Zebra Tomato, Tomato
The massive red and green striped tomatoes of 'Big Zebra' have a mild, sweet flavor. This vining or indeterminate tomato produces 1- to 2-pound (0.5 to 1 kg) fruits 80 to 85 days after planting seedlings. Start seeds indoors six weeks before the last spring frost date and transplant seedlings outdoors after the frost date. These beefsteak tomatoes are deeply lobed like a pumpkin and also have colorful inner flesh making them ideal for colorful sliced tomato salads.
The garden tomato is a short-lived tender perennial vine that is grown as an annual crop. Its compound leaves are medium green, hairy and have a strong fragrance. Some vines have thick, potato-like leaves while others have more delicate, dissected leaves. Mature vines produce star-shaped yellow flowers in clusters along the branches. Most modern types are self-fertile.
Tomato plants have two growth types, determinant and indeterminate. Determinant tomatoes have short bushy habits, do not vine, and set fruit over a four to six week period. They are easy to maintain and well-suited to container culture. By contrast, indeterminate vines grow very large and produce a huge crop of fruit over a longer period but require more care.
Tomatoes require full sun and perfectly drained, slightly acid to neutral garden loam. The vines root along the stems and should be planted deep for better establishment. They are cold sensitive, so plant after the danger of frost has passed. Production and fruit flavor are best when both nights and days are warm. The fruits themselves are cold sensitive and become tough and less flavorful under cool temperatures, so refrain from storing them in the refrigerator. In subtropical locations, tomatoes can be grown as a winter crop — if temperatures remain warm enough.
These veggies are heavy feeders, so it is important to fertilize and water them regularly and evenly for best growth and production. Be sure to choose a fertilizer specifically formulated for tomatoes, and avoid over-watering because too much water can reduce flavor and cause fruit cracking.
Tomatoes are susceptible to a wide range of pests and diseases. There are hundreds of varieties available, many of which are resistant. For more information on tomato diseases see Learn2Grow's general database entry for Lycopersicon esculentum.
12 - 1
11 - 15
A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
5'-8' / 1.5m - 2.4m
3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m
Mexico, Central America, South America
Spring, Summer, Fall
Red, Green, Light Yellow, Pink, Orange Red
Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Vine
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