Green Zebra Tomatoes: How to Grow Them for a HUGE Crop

grow green zebra tomatoes

Green zebra tomatoes are really fun-looking fruits! I went to France for my honeymoon recently and all of the restaurants there seem to serve them, I thought that was pretty cool!

Green zebras are slightly tart and have a hint of sweetness at the back end of the bite. They have bright green stripes making them add some nice color to your plate.

But the green tomatoes also look like an unripe tomato, so it can make picking them when they’re perfectly ripe a challenge.

CultivarSeasonDays to MaturityGrowth HabitColorHeightShapeSize (inches)Weight (oz)
Abe Lincoln75Indeterminate5-7'Globe16 oz
Abigail75Indeterminate6-8'Beefsteak10-16 oz
Ace 5575 Determinate3-5'12-14 oz
Amelia75 Determinate4-5'8-12 oz
Amish Paste85IndeterminatePaste8 oz
Anna RussianEarly-Season65IndeterminateOxheart14-16 oz
Arkansas Traveler75Indeterminate6-8'6-8 oz
Atlas65 Determinate2-3'Beefsteak12 oz
Aunt Gertie's GoldMid-Season75IndeterminateBeefsteak16-24oz
AzoychkaMid-Season70IndeterminateBeefsteak3 inches10-16 oz
Banana LegsMid-Season72 DeterminatePlum4 inches
BasingaMid-Season80IndeterminateGlobe4 inches8-12 oz
Better Boy75Indeterminate12-16 oz
Better Bush68 Determinate3-5'4
Big Beef73IndeterminateBeefsteak10-12 oz
Big Boy78IndeterminateBeefsteak10-16 oz
Big LeagueEarly Season47 DeterminateBeefsteak14-21 oz
Big Rainbow 85Indeterminate3-4'Beefsteak22 oz
Big YellowLate-Season80IndeterminateGlobe8-10 oz
Biltmore80 Determinate3-4'Globe10-12 oz
Black Beauty80Indeterminate7-8'Beefsteak10-14 oz
Black Cherry68Indeterminate5-6'Cherry
Black from TulaMid-Season75IndeterminateHeirloom3-4 inches
Black KrimMid-Season72IndeterminateBeefsteak3-4 inches16 oz
Black Sea ManMid-Season75Determinate12-16 oz
Blondkopfchen75
Blue Berries Mid-Season74IndeterminateCherry1/2 inch
Bonny Best80IndeterminateGlobe
Brandywine72IndeterminateBeefsteak16 oz
Bush BeefsteakEarly Season62 Determinate3-4'Beefsteak8-10 oz
Cal Ace75 DeterminateBeefsteak8-16 oz
Candy's YellowMid-Season75IndeterminateBeefsteak3-4 inches
Caro Rich80 DeterminateBeefsteak8-12 oz
Celebrity70 DeterminateGlobe8-12 oz
Chef's Choice Orange75Indeterminate5'12-16 oz
Cherokee PurpleLate-Season75-80Indeterminate4-6'Beefsteak12-16 oz
Cherry Bomb64IndeterminateCherry.05-1 oz
Cherry Gold45Cherry
Chuck's YellowMid-Season77IndeterminateBeefsteak16-24 oz
Cream SausageMid-Season73 DeterminatePlum3 inches
Damsel73IndeterminateGlobe8-12 oz
Dark Galaxy75Indeterminate2-4 oz
Defiant PhR65 DeterminateGlobe6-8 oz
Dr. Wyche's YellowMid-Season78IndeterminateBeefsteak10-16 oz
Dwarf Purple HeartMid-Season70DeterminateDwarf6-16 oz
Early Girl51IndeterminateGlobe8 oz
Egg Yolk70IndeterminateCherry1-2 inches
Evan’s Purple PearMid-Season75Indeterminate5-8'Pear2-3 oz
Five Star Grape62IndeterminateGrape
Galahad69 DeterminateBeefsteak7-12 oz
German Johnson76Indeterminate4-6'Beefsteak
Giant OxheartLate-Season90IndeterminateOxheart16-32 oz
Glacier55Indeterminate1-2 oz
Gold NuggetEarly54 DeterminateCherry1 inch.5-1 oz
Golden Roma75Roma
Golden Sweet60IndeterminateGrape
GrandaddyEarly72 DeterminateBeefsteak10-16 oz
Grandma Oliver's Green80IndeterminateHeirloom3 inch10-14 oz
Grape Tomato60IndeterminateCherry
Green Zebra78IndeterminateSmall3 oz
Hartman's Yellow Gooseberry
Helsing Junction BluesMid-Season60-65Indeterminate5-6'Cherry3/4 inch
Hillbilly85Indeterminate5-7'Beefsteak2-4 inches
Homestead 2475 Determinate5-6'6-8 oz
Independence Day (Fourth of July)49IndeterminateSmall4 oz
Indigo AppleMid-Season75Indeterminate3-4 oz
Indigo RoseLate Season75IndeterminateCocktail1-2 oz
Isis CandyEarly-Season65IndeterminateCherry1.5 inches
Japanense Black Trifele80Indeterminate2-3 inches
JasperCherry60Indeterminate.25-.5 oz
Jetstar72Indeterminate6-8 oz
Juliet60IndeterminateCherry1 oz
Kellogg's BreakfastMid-Season80IndeterminateBeefsteak15-32 oz
Large Barred BoarEarly-Season65 DeterminateBeefsteak8-12 oz
Legend68 Determinate3-4 inches14-16 oz
Lemon Boy75IndeterminateGlobe3.5 inches6-7 oz
Little Blonde Girl75
Marglobe75 Determinate7-10 oz
Marizol Purple80Indeterminate8-16 oz
Midnight Roma80Semi-DeterminateRoma
Midnight SelectMid-Season72Indeterminate4'
Mortgage Lifter85IndeterminateBeefsteak16-24 oz
Moskvich60Indeterminate4-6 oz
Mr. Stripey80IndeterminateBeefsteak
New Big Dwarf60 DeterminateBeefsteak
New YorkerEarly-Season63 DeterminateBeefsteak4-6 oz
Oregon Spring65 Determinate
Owen’s PurpleMid-Season75Indeterminate10-16 oz
Paul RobesonMid-Season78Indeterminate4 inches10-16 oz
Pineapple90Indeterminate6-8'
Pink Oxheart85Indeterminate4-5'Oxheart16-32 oz
Pink San Marzano85Indeterminate3-4 oz
Powers HeirloomMid-Season79IndeterminatePlum3-5 oz
Pride of FlandersMid-Season70Determinate3-4'Cherry1 inch
Principe Borghese75 DeterminateGrape1-2 oz
Purple Bumble BeeMid-Season68IndeterminateCherry1 inch
Purple CalabashMid-Season83IndeterminateBeefsteak2-3 inches9-12 oz
Dwarf Purple ReignMid-Season75Indeterminate3-4'Beefsteak6-12 oz
Purple RussianMid-Season76IndeterminatePlum3-4 inches5-7 oz
Rapunzel70IndeterminateCherry1 oz
Rio Grande80 Determinate
Roma75 Determinate4-6'3 inches
Rose78Indeterminate10 oz
Rosella PurpleMid-Season78Indeterminate3-4'6-12 oz
Rugged Boy75 Determinate6-8 oz
Rutgers (Jersey Tomato)75 DeterminateGlobe8-10 oz
San Marzano85IndeterminatePlum4 oz
San Marzano Gigante90IndeterminatePlum7 inches long, 2.5 inches wide
San Marzano LampadinaLate Season78Indeterminate
San Marzano Nano75 Determinate
San Marzano Scatalone75Indeterminate4-6'
Santorange60IndeterminateGrape0.5-1 oz
Schwarze SarahMid-Season79Indeterminate
Southern NightMid-Season85IndeterminateBeefsteak12-14 oz
Stupice52Indeterminate1-2 oz
Sugar BombsIndeterminate
Summer Pick75 DeterminateBeefsteak11 oz
Sun Gold60IndeterminateCherry
Sunshine BlueMid-Season72Indeterminate4-5'Cherry2-3 oz
Super Fantastic70Indeterminate4-5'10 oz
Super Sweet 10065Indeterminate8-12'1
Supersonic75Indeterminate5-6'12 oz
Sweet 10070IndeterminateCherry1-1.5 inches
Talladega67 DeterminateBeefsteak
Tangerine
TaxiEarly68 DeterminateGlobe3 inches4-6 oz
Tims Black RufflesMid-Season78Indeterminate8-10 oz
Tumbling Tom Red60 Determinate3-5'1-2 inches
Tycoon80 DeterminateBeefsteak9-12 oz
Valleycat70 DeterminateBeefsteak8-10 oz
Washington CherryEarly60 DeterminateCherry0.75-1 oz
White Cherry75IndeterminateCherry1 oz
Wine JugMid-Season78IndeterminatePlum3-4 oz
Yellow BellEarly60IndeterminatePlum3 inches
Yellow BrandywineLate-Season90IndeterminateBeefsteak3-5 inches16-20 oz
Yellow Pear71IndeterminatePlum, Pear1.5 inches
Aunt SophiesLate Season90IndeterminateOxheart5-22 oz
Aladdin's LampMid-Season80IndeterminatePear
Amana OrangeMid-SeasonIndeterminateBeefsteak, Flattened Globe10 oz
Barnes MountainLate SeasonIndeterminateBeefsteak
Burning SpearMid-SeasonIndeterminateElongated, Plum, Pointed
Dad's SunsetLate SeasonIndeterminateRound
Woodle Orange
Yellow Teardrop
Big Girl
orange jubilee tomato
Yellow Jubilee65-80IndeterminateRound
Golden Sweet Cherry Tomato
Golden Sunray75IndeterminateRound
jaune flamme tomato
persimmon tomato plants
valencia heirloom tomato
carolina gold tomatoes
breakfast sweet

How to Grow Green Zebra Tomato Plants

To grow green zebra plants, plant the seeds in good quality soil, in a location that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, and make sure your tomatoes get watered regularly. To get a huge yield of tomatoes, you can start the seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your last frost date.

So now that you know the basics, let’s dive in a bit more onto actually growing them.

Starting Your Tomato Plant Indoors

Your green tomato can be started indoors around 6-8 weeks before your area’s last frost date. Starting seeds indoors is a great way to get a headstart on the growing season, and give the plants enough time to grow big and provide you with more tomatoes – isn’t that what we’re all after?!

What You’ll Need to Start Seeds Indoors

  • Light Source – most windowsills won’t provide enough light, so I usually use a grow light to give the plants all the light they need and make sure they germinate properly.
  • Heat Source – you’re usually starting seeds in the winter, and it can get cold inside. Plants usually need around 70-85 degree temperatures to germinate and most homes aren’t that warm, especially in the winter. Heat mats are a great way to make sure you get good germination rates.
  • Good Quality Soil – I like this one for a seed starting mix
  • Seed Starting Trays – These are hands down the best option for seed starting trays.
  • Water – A watering can or hose will work great
  • Tomato Seeds – you can get green zebra tomato seeds from a number of places – your favorite seed company likely carries them.

Starting seeds indoors is pretty easy. You can start this process around 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. My tomatoes came up like crazy this year and I wished I would have waited for around 6 weeks because the frost persisted past my last frost date.

1. Add your potting mix or seed starting soil to a tray, and moisten the soil.

2. Add a few seeds spaced around an inch apart (you can thin them out later).

3. Add a thin layer of soil on top, around 1/4 inch and spray with a spray bottle to moisten.

4. Place seed tray on a heat mat to help with germination. Put a grow light overhead and put it on a timer to be on for 8-10 hours a day. Too much light can cause trouble, but not enough light is often worse.

5. Once seeds start germinating and you see sprouts forming, remove them from the heat or else they might end up leggy and weak. Keep them under the grow lights.

6. Keep the soil moist, checking it every day to make sure it doesn’t dry out.

7. As your plants grow, you’ll want to keep an eye out for tomato suckers, making sure to remove them as they come about.

8. Once your frost date has passed, keep an eye on the 10-day forecast to make sure it really has passed. The dates you find online are estimates, so each year you’ll want to check the weather regularly. Once there is no sign of frost in the forecast, you can transfer them into the ground, following the instructions below.

Planting Tomato Seedlings in the Ground

Around 1-2 weeks after the danger of frost has passed, it’s probably warm enough to plant your tomatoes in the ground.

When planning the location for your tomatoes, make sure to choose a location that gets full sun.

Companion planting is another thing to keep in mind when choosing a location, as tomatoes do have quite a few pests and issues to run into. Planting near good companions can help mitigate some of those issues.

Environment & Temperatures

The Green Zebra tomato is also a very disease-resistant plant, therefore it is not likely to be affected by the usual tomato pests or diseases, like fusarium wilt.

As with most tomatoes, Green zebra tomatoes can be planted outside when soil temperatures reach at least 50 degrees F.

Soil Requirements

Green zebra tomatoes should be planted on rich soils with a pH of 8 (8 being neutral). They need to have lots of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium for good growth and development.

If you want to get your tomatoes off to a great start, improve the soil’s quality and texture by digging in lots of organic matter, like compost and manure.

For best results, grow them in rich soil that has a good mixture of compost or manure at least three months before you plan on planting your tomato garden.

Sunlight Requirements for Tomatoes

Green zebra tomatoes need at least 8 hours of sunlight in order to grow properly and quickly enough for them to produce a bountiful harvest. Without enough light, a green zebra plant can get stunted and grow much slower, which may result in a smaller harvest for you.

Green zebra tomatoes should not be planted in areas with too much direct sun; they should be given partial sunlight or light shade. This will prevent the green zebra tomato from having tough skin and pale, almost white flesh.

green zebra inside

Tomato Spacing

Tomatoes need space to grow properly and get enough air circulation to be able to avoid disease and grow a bigger harvest.

Green zebras are indeterminate tomatoes, meaning they grow tall and continue to produce fruit throughout the growing season. This is important to understand because you should be good with around 24-36 inches between plants.

When growing more bushy, determinate varieties, you may need more space between them.

Why can’t you just plant a bunch of plants in one area?

  • Reduced airflow can spread disease and make it easier for pests to duplicate
  • Decreased sunlight penetration – their leaves will block the sun from other tomato plants around them and vice versa
  • Competing for nutrients – tomatoes are heavy feeders, meaning they need a lot of nutrients to produce fruit. Without these nutrients, you might get smaller tomatoes, or even end up with plants that have a lot of foliage, but no flowers.

Mulching

The weather is crazy these days — we’re seeing some of the hottest summers on record, and this can have a huge impact on your tomato plants.

So how do you mitigate this? Using mulch, such as cedar mulch, can be a great way to keep water from evaporating, as well as reduce the impact of high temperatures on your plants and the soil.

Add 1-2 inches of mulch when you initially plant your tomatoes and then add more at least once every few months.

Nutrients & Fertilizers

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so they need quite a bit of nutrients added into the soil. If you are growing in clay soil like I am, you’ll want to add in dolomite lime and some sort of fertilizer.

Even if you are growing in the loamiest loamy soil (yea, I said it), you’ll probably need to add some kind of nutrients at some point throughout the growing season.

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Calcium

If your soil is lacking in any of these, you’ll run into various problems and end up with a smaller harvest.

Testing your soil is a great way to understand what your soil is high in, and what it might be lacking.

Add tomato fertilizer a few days after planting them in the ground, and then every 2-3 weeks, depending on the instructions you get from the fertilizer manufacturer.

tomato seedlings

How Deep to Plant Tomatoes

Planting your seedlings in the ground is pretty straightforward, but there is one tip you might’ve missed.

Cut off all the branches aside from the top 2-3. Then plant that long stem in the ground. While it seems wrong, tomatoes are actually quite interesting in the sense that they will grow roots along that main stem underground.

Planting them this way will give your plant stronger roots that will be able to resist wind and other outside elements better.

Trellis/Stakes/Cages

Tomatoes generally need some kind of support as they grow tall. While cages are popular options, they are better for smaller, determinate tomato varieties. Since Green Zebras are indeterminate, they can get quite tall reaching heights of 6-8 feet, and a 5-foot tomato cage just won’t be large enough.

I really like using this trellis method as you can make it taller to fit your plants, whereas a cage has a static height.

Pollination & Harvest

Flowers will appear about 10 days after the green zebra tomato plant is large enough to set them, and they should be pollinated at that time.

If your garden doesn’t attract a ton of pollinators (i.e. bees and other flying insects), you can manually pollinate the flowers.

Once flowers are pollinated, the plant will begin producing fruits where the flowers once were.

green zebra tomato

When to Harvest Green Zebra Tomatoes

I like to pick my tomatoes when they are starting to turn from green to their expected color. But because green zebra tomatoes are green when ripe, it can be hard to tell when they are ripe and ready to be picked. So how can you tell when they are ready?

When the dark green stripes on the tomatoes are starting to turn yellow, they are ready to be picked. You can also squeeze the tomato gently and if they are not super firm anymore, they are likely ready to be picked.

Common Pests

There are a number of worms that impact tomatoes, including:

All of these worms are pretty gross, and not fun to find in the garden. You can avoid finding them on your plants using a B.t. spray like this one.

Aphids are another pest to watch out for. I call them the glitter of the garden, because they come out of nowhere, multiply like crazy, and can be challenging to get rid of…if you don’t know what you’re doing. Neem oil is a great way to help keep aphids out of the garden.

While there are tons of other pests you might find on your plants, these are some of the more common ones.

But worms aren’t the only ones who eat Green Zebras, there are plenty of animals that eat tomatoes including:

  • Squirrels
  • Birds
  • Rabbits
  • Deer
  • Voles
  • Raccoons

How to Use Green Zebra Tomatoes in the Kitchen

Green zebras are great for eating fresh off the vine, but there are a lot of other options for using them.

Tomato sandwich – never had one? You’re in for a treat. Green zebra tomatoes are considered to be great slicing tomatoes. Grab some sourdough bread, slice up your tomato and place it on the bread. Add other ingredients like cheese, mayo, mustard, or whatever condiments you enjoy, and get ready for a great taste sandwich!

Add to Salads – This tomato variety is a great addition to salads as well. Salads get a big kick of freshness when you add green zebra tomatoes to them.

The History of Green Zebra Tomatoes

Green Zebra tomatoes are an heirloom tomato that was bred by a man named Tom Wagner from Washington and introduced to the world in 1983.

While they have a long past, now they fill gardens around the world with their delicious flavor and joyous colors.

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AUTHOR

Hi - I'm Chenell! I'm on a mission to learn how to grow my own food, and help other people do the same.

I lived in the city for almost a decade, but after moving to the suburbs, I started making my Iowa blood proud and growing all kinds of food 🌽 I started this website to help keep track of the journey while teaching others the mistakes and things I'm learning along the way. You can follow along with the journey and learn more here.

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