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Tomato, Cherokee Purple

Short Description

HEIRLOOM. Its flavor is rich and full—often compared with Brandywine.

Full Description

This large dark purple heirloom tomato from Tennessee is rumored to have come from Cherokee gardeners. With its rich, full flavor, it's often compared with Brandywine. The flesh is brick-red and very attractive sliced on a plate. Plants produce large vines that yield tomatoes fully 5" across and 3 1/2" deep.
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Item#: 56812A
Order: 1 Pkt. (50 seeds)
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Item#: 26339
Order: 3 Plants
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Product properties

Days To Maturity The average number of days from when the plant is actively growing in the garden to the expected time of harvest.

85 days

Fruit Weight The average weight of the fruit produced by this product.

13 ounces

Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day; partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day; shade means little or no direct sun.

Full Sun

Spread The width of the plant at maturity.

18 inches

Height The typical height of this product at maturity.

36-40 inches

Sow Method This refers to whether the seed should be sown early indoors and the seedlings transplanted outside later, or if the seed should be sown directly in the garden at the recommended planting time.

Indoor Sow

Plant Shipping Information

Plants ship in Spring in proper planting time (click for schedule)


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How to plant tomatoes in the garden.
For the best yields follow the tomato planting guidelines in this video.
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Tomatoes- Staking and Caging
Support your tomato plants for maximum growth and yields.
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How to Sow and Plant

  • Sow tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in spring using a seed starting kit
  • Sow seeds ¼  inch deep in seed-starting formula
  • Keep the soil moist at 75 degrees F
  • Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days
  • As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
  • Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • If you are growing in small cells, you may need to transplant the seedlings to 3 or 4 inch pots when seedlings have at least 3 pairs of leaves before transplanting to the garden so they have enough room to develop strong roots
  • Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding.

Planting in the Garden:

  • Select a location in full sun with good rich moist organic soil. Make sure you did not grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or potatoes in the bed the previous year to avoid disease problems.
  • Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
  • Tomatoes should be set 30-48 inches apart in a row with the rows spaced 3-4 feet apart. It can be tempting to space tomatoes more closely at planting time, but if you plant too closely you will increase the chance of disease, and decrease yields.
  • Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball. 
  • Carefully remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root development. 
  • Tomatoes can be planted deeply, with the stem buried to the first set of leaves. The more deeply they are planted the more roots will form, providing the plant with additional support and better ability to take up nutrients. Some gardeners plant tomatoes by digging a horizontal trench and laying the plant in the trench with the top 2-4 inches of the plant pointing upward.
  • Fill the planting hole with soil to the top and press soil down firmly with your hand leaving a slight depression around the plant to hold water. 
  • Use the plant tag as a location marker. This is particularly important if you are trying different varieties. It is very difficult to tell which variety is which from the foliage.  
  • Water thoroughly, so that a puddle forms in the saucer you have created. This settles the plants in, drives out air pockets and results in good root-to-soil contact.
  • Place your plant support at this time. You can try tomato cages or staking. Unsupported plants will sprawl on the ground, require no pruning, and will probably produce a larger yield of smaller fruit than will staked plants. For larger, cleaner, more perfect fruits, support plants as they grow. Growing on stakes: Place strong stakes in the ground and set plants about 6 inches from the stakes. Growing in cages: Place a cage around a single plant; let the vines grow and enlarge within the cage, no pruning  will be necessary

How to Grow

  • Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating. 
  • Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. This is especially important for tomatoes as their roots may be easily damaged when weeding, and this can lead to blossom end rot.
  • Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1-2 inches of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
  • If growing on stakes: As the plants grow, allow only one or two main stems to grow and pinch out any other side shoots as they form. Gently tie the one or two remaining shoots to the stake; don't pull them tightly against the stake. If growing in cages, no pruning is necessary.
  • Whether to remove the side shoots, or suckers, that grow out of the leaf axils or not depends on the support system used. Gardeners using stakes usually snap off these side shoots. They typically get earlier and larger tomatoes but overall production tends to be less. If tomatoes are grown in cages, the suckers are generally left on, although it's a good idea to pinch the tip out of them when they are 6-8 inches long. Regardless you may want to remove all the growth from the bottom 6-10 inches of the plant. This helps to improve air circulation and reduce the spread of diseases such as early blight. Wait until the plants are knee-high. In the morning when the plants have the most water in them, snap off the lower growth while it is small. Any plants that look sick with distorted foliage or have a mosaic pattern on the leaves should be removed as they may have a virus that can spread to the other plants. It is best to do this early in the season.
  • Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.

Harvesting and Preserving Tips

  • Determinate tomato plants ripen a heavy crop over a few weeks. Indeterminate varieties bear fruit continuously till frost. Remember that the days to harvest refers to the time from setting out transplants in the garden.
  • Pick tomatoes when they are as ripe as possible. They should be fully colored and firm and picked regularly to avoid overloading plants.
  • At the end of the season, when you know there will be a frost, pick all the almost-ripe tomatoes you can, and ripen them in brown bags or spread on newspapers at room temperature. Many cultivars will store for months. Store only sound fruit, at 50-60°F. Do NOT refrigerate and try to avoid having the fruit touch each other.
  • The foliage of tomatoes is toxic and should not be eaten.
  • Tomato fruits are enjoyed in many cooked dishes as a flavoring. Use them to make soups, sauces, stews, ketchup, paste, juice, quiche, and pies. Add them to curries, casseroles, and chutney.
Days To Maturity
85 days
Fruit Weight
13 ounces
Full Sun
18 inches
36-40 inches
Sow Method
Indoor Sow
Planting Time
Sow Time
6-8 weeks BLF
6 inches
Life Cycle
Tomato, Cherokee Purple is rated 4.2333 out of 5 by 30.
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not impresive Cherokee Purple sets large fruits, but they crack and rotten on the vine. If you manage to get some to the table, they are very mushy, good to cook with, not to slice and fresh eat them. Not very prolific either. They look good in the picture, their description sounds nice, but I was not impressed with them at all.
Date published: 2016-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Favorite in the Garden I have been growing these tomatoes for several years now and I will continue to do so due to their superior flavor and great yield. The have a rich and slightly smokey flavor that many of the dark varieties do. The yield is always pretty good and the fruit is pretty blemish free for the most part. The plants are also pretty good as far as diseases are concerned. They always seem to produce earlier than advertised for me. I planted one on May 23td this year and June was very cold and raiiny. (It rained 22 of the 30 days in June) I went outside and picked my first two yesterday and a 3rd one will be ready in another day or two. (If your counting, that is only 65 days)
Date published: 2015-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Tomato Period Don't listen to other negative reviews. I have grown perhaps a hundred different types of heirloom tomatoes, and now I only grow Cherokee Purple tomatoes. They are simply the best tasting, disease resistant, productive tomato, period! They are simply the best, and the taste is FAR better than any other tomato I have ever eaten, period.
Date published: 2015-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Less than stellar production, BUT! I have been trying to grow the Purple for 6 years now. I have a small raised garden that gets only about 7 hours of full sun each day. The soil is very good with LOTS of composted organic material. about 12 to 14 inches of soil in the raised beds. Yearly I turn the soil over several times in the winter digging to a depth of about 18 total inches. I have also amended the soil so about one third of its volume is commercial silica sand mixed with equal parts of vermiculite. Initially I bought soil. MY yard is small With only enough room for 4 plants. My plants are caged using large cages made from concrete 6"X6" open mesh bent to form cages 3'X3'X8' tall. My plants a not trimmed and I weave the stalks through the mesh to keep the plants suspended within. I shake the cages twice a day. My yard has one gigantic Pinkerton avocado tree that, between dropped blossoms and leaves creates, after chipping, about 1 cubic yard of of material. I moisten the pile about once a week and turn all of it over about once a week, moving the pile from one side ob my compost bin to the other. For planting I dump 4 ea 5 gallon buckets of this compost on the spot where I am going to plant, then turn it thoroughly, with a garden fork, into the soil to a depth of about 16 inches ending up with a flattened mound about 18" in diameter and about 18" deep (top of the mound to the bottom of the raised bed). That makes the flattened top of the mound about 8" above the surface of the raised bed. The whole garden gets 3-4" of compost turned each year, but the tomato plants are planted in the "mounds." One plant per mound. Automatic sprinkler set up that waters twice a week... one inch of water each time. Soil is mulched with two inch layer of chipped leaves that have not been composted. With so much organic material in the soil, it is very soft and never has standing water nor does it get soggy. Just hand turned my soil a week ago with a garden fork. Uncovered earthworms by the thousands in a space of 10 by 7 feet. Now the performance. No blossom end rot, but the setting of fruit is low With clusters close to the ground, the about two feet of multiple stalks with virtually no fruit sets. Then at 4 ft fruit starts to set again but still not very prolific. From plants that fill a 3X3X8 foot cage I am lucky to get 15 fruit. I have tried trimming stalks to two only and cutting all suckers. Similar performance, which is very low compared to Better Boy and Comstock. I do get more production when I just let the plants fill the cages. I have added nitrogen and withheld nitrogen. Even that smallest amount of high nitrogen fertilized causes spectacular foliage regardless of the timing of the application. With so much compost and such spectacular earthworm population, I find it hard to believe that something is missing from the soil or a need to add nitrogen. I find no better tasting tomato and even though these are Heirloom I have NO diseases. Which is actually superior performance to the hybrid resistant varieties I've grown. Don't know what I am doing wrong! This year I have ordered the grafted root plants which literature says are more productive. And this year I am growing nothing but the Cherokee Purple because the taste is just superior to ANY tomato I have ever grown.
Date published: 2015-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from my new favorite tomato I was pleasantly surprised with this tomato. I ordered it as a grafted heirloom plant, and it turned out to be the superstar of my garden. I picked the first ripe tomato on July 8 which is unusually early for this area, especially for a larger variety, and these are really big. Most of them were 4 to 5 inches across and weighed a pound or more. From just the one plant, I have had a steady supply of tomatoes all summer.I have one ripening on the counter now and it is Sept. 22. Plus, they are the best tasting tomato I have ever grown. The first ones had a bit of cracking, I think because I was away for a few weeks and it didn't rain. Also the plant developed a disease late in the season that turned the bottom leaves brown. The tomatoes continued to grow, however, and still tasted good.
Date published: 2014-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Delicious Grew this variety for the first time this year. The seeds had an excellent germination rate. The plants were healthy & productive. The tomatoes have a beautiful coloring and taste delicious. Cherokee Purple will be in my garden every year from now on.
Date published: 2014-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unusual and Great Tasting I grew Cherokee Purple tomatoes for the first time this year. I started from seed and had no problems with germination. This tomato does really well in the hot, humid Texas summer. My plants have become quite large, but they have produced large tomatoes in clusters, several weighing in close to 2 pounds per tomato!! These tomatoes have a great, almost smoky flavor; taste-wise they are my second favorite after Arkansas Traveler. I will definitely grow these again next year.
Date published: 2014-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Tasting Last year was my first time to plant Cherokee Purples and wife & I feel in love with them. We told many of our friends about them. Since we tried these it gave us the incentive to try more Heirloom types. This year we are trying Big Rainbows with our Purples, we hear great reviews about them.
Date published: 2014-04-29
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