Cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets can be productive as well as ornamental. Bedding plant producers often market hanging basket tomatoes for customers gardening in limited spaces. In my travels, I have also seen that some growers are using hanging baskets for their own early season cherry tomato production to take advantage of greenhouse space that is already set up for hangers.
The varieties best adapted to production in hanging baskets are mostly determinate; not too leggy, but long enough stems so that they cascade nicely over the edge of the hangers. Currently, the most common varieties grown for this purpose are ‘Tumbling Tom Red’ and ‘Tumbling Tom Yellow’. The F1 hybrid variety ‘Tumbler’ was more prevalent several years ago, but due to limited availability, it has largely been replaced by the ‘Tumbling Tom’ varieties. These varieties, while productive, produce smaller fruits and show highly variable growth habit, with a tendency to produce off-type plants that have a shrubby growth habit and poor fruit set.
Over a period of several years, we have made selections in populations derived from ‘Tumbler’, and we are now introducing the first of these, ‘Rambling Rose’, for trial by growers. The majority of the work on this project was completed by former UNH graduate student Elisabeth Hodgdon, and another former UNH graduate student, Jennifer Noseworthy, was instrumental in getting the project started.
In all of our experiments, we have used one plant per 12” hanging pot, and have set the plants up on automatic drip systems with 15-4-15 at a constant feed rate of 200 ppm N. In these conditions, ‘Rambling Rose’ plants have a growth habit slightly larger and more open than ‘Tumbling Tom’. The plants are comparable to those of ‘Tumbler’ in size and growth habit. They are semi-determinate plants, adapted to hanging basket culture. ‘Rambling Rose’ is approximately 10 days earlier than ‘Tumbler’ or ‘Tumbling Tom’, with first ripe fruit at approximately 50 days after transplant. The fruits are larger than those of ‘Tumbling Tom’, are of good quality, and are an attractive pink color, similar to ‘Brandywine’. ‘Rambling Rose’ fruits would make a nice addition to a mixture of colored cherry tomatoes.
Small quantities of seeds are available for trial – we are interested in your feedback. If you are interested in growing some ‘Rambling Rose’ this year, please contact Becky Sideman (email@example.com, 603-862-3203) to request a sample.