Tomato, Red Lightning Hybrid
Irresistible flavor and brilliant electric coloring.
Days To Maturity
6-8 weeks BLF
Plant Shipping Information
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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 Maturity82 daysFruit Weight2-3 ouncesSunFull SunSpread18 inchesHeight48 inchesSow MethodIndoor SowPlanting TimeSpringSow Time6-8 weeks BLFThin36 inchesLife CycleAnnual
Tomato, Red Lightning Hybrid is rated out of 5 by 45.Rated 5 out of 5 by Boxerdad from Incredible Taste This is our first year of growing the "Red Lightning". We struggled getting the seeds to germinate, only managed to grow 2 out of 12 seed pods but the two that grew produced what are quite possibly the best tasting tomato's ever. Absolutely love the taste, just quartered, salted & consumed.....remarkable flavor. These will be in our garden for years to come! My granddaughter loved the little nose that this one grew!Date published: 2015-07-29Rated 1 out of 5 by Girl77 from Not Tasty This tomato plant produced TONS of tomatoes. However, now I'm stuck with a bunch of tomatoes I don't want to eat. They are very acidic and not flavorful. They do look stripey- just like in the picture.Date published: 2015-07-19Rated 5 out of 5 by CindyG from LOVE the colors This tomato makes any recipe look as great as it tastes. I love to add it to the top of garden salads and everyone always comments on how much they enjoy it.Date published: 2015-03-14Rated 1 out of 5 by debflip12 from Total Fail This striped tomato did not produce a single acceptable specimen for us, not sure if we got a bad batch or maybe the wrong seeds, but none of the tomatoes even had stripes and did not get large at all. Ended up pulling up the plant.Date published: 2014-11-09Rated 5 out of 5 by sezame from Wowza Very tasty small tomatoes. Love the way they look. Started them from seed directly in garden.Date published: 2014-09-17Rated 4 out of 5 by Skyler from Vibrant Tomato The red lighting tomato will be the talk of the neighborhood. They are bright and electric and oh do they stand out. I have had over a dozen ripe one so far. I started mine from seed in late March 2014. I had a few ripe ones right after the 4th of July this year. This is my first year planting them, I wanted to try something different and they really are. The plant is huge, my plant was over 5 feet by the first of July. The plant is an extremely heavy bearer of fruit. The vine produces 8-12 tomatoes, all of which are above the 2 ounce mark. I wouldn't call this plant a cherry tomato, it is larger than my 4th of July tomatoes which are a 2-4 ounce fruit. The skin is normal for me, I was a little worried that it was a thick skin tomato after reading some of the reviews on here, it isn't a tuff skin tomato. The tomato is a little tart though, it has a lot of acidic flavor and they taste amazing on a burger or salad. If your looking for a tomato to eat plain pass on this tomato unless you like a tart acidic one. I will replant this tomato next year.Date published: 2014-07-21Rated 4 out of 5 by JJonesy from Beautiful Red Lightning It looks just like the photo! Gorgeous smaller salad tomatoes with really nice mellow flavor. Two gardens this year - the weather has been wet and humid here in PA and only my "hillside" tomatoes look tall healthy and are producing well. The lower garden - or the "swamp" as I call it, has taken a beating with too much irregular natural watering. Everything goes on the hillside next year! I will be growing Red Lightning next year, they are simply beautiful in a salad or sliced on a plate with a little mozzerella and fresh pesto dressing!Date published: 2013-08-28Rated 3 out of 5 by Kelley from Just okay I was so excited to plant these gorgeous tomatoes, and was even more excited when I started to see the awesome little tomatoes growing on my vines with their beautiful stripes. I could hardly wait to taste them - hoping for something extraordinary. The plants did not produce very well compared to my 4th of july hybrids (massive production and awesome early tomato) or my big boys - I have 3 red lightening plants and have only between 4-6 tomatoes growing on each. The first 2 were ready to pick yesterday, but unfortunately they both had blossom end rot. (I know this is a soil condition and I will be working to incorporate calcium into the soil; however, I haven't had any rot on any of my other 9 tomato plants). I was finally able to taste a ripe one today, and I was disappointed. It wasn't terrible at all, but it was not juicy and was kind of mushy inside with average taste. Definitely was not irresistible flavor or appealing texture. I'm hoping that one was an exception and the rest will be yummy. If not, this one will unfortunately be removed from my garden for next year. :(Date published: 2013-08-27