Freshly harvested home-grown tomatoes are a total taste sensation and look gorgeously colourful too. Roma tomatoes are a versatile summer crop that can be grown outdoors or under cover, in the ground or containers. Like all tomatoes, ‘Roma’ is frost-tender, and the plants last for one growing season.


What are Roma tomatoes?

Roma tomatoes have small, plum or egg-shaped bright red fruits, and have been specially bred to have few seeds, unlike most tomato varieties, which makes ‘Roma’ fruit ideal for making into sauces, tomato ketchup, and for preserving. The fruits have an excellent flavour and are ideal to eat fresh, too. Roma tomato plants grow to around 150cm tall with a spread of 50cm.

How to grow Roma tomatoes

Either grow from seed sown in a heated propagator from late winter to early spring, or buy young, ready-grown plants. Transplant into larger pots, eventually growing in large individual pots, growing bags, or in the ground. Support and tie in plants as they grow and regularly feed and water.

Where to grow Roma tomatoes

Grow Roma tomatoes in full sun and a sheltered spot outdoors, or inside in a greenhouse or polytunnel. Because Roma tomatoes grow tall but have a relatively small spread, they are a good choice for small spaces.

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How to plant Roma tomatoes

Planting tomato plants
Planting tomato plants

Only plant outside after the last frosts have passed, in late May or early June. Plant into fertile soil or potting compost and tie the plants to sturdy supports.

How to care for Roma tomatoes

Water regularly – an even supply of water is important as too little water means fewer, smaller fruit and also results in nutrient deficiencies. Conversely, too much water ‘dilutes’ the flavour and causes fruits to swell rapidly and split, which is an open invitation to grey mould that then spreads to healthy fruits. Ideally, water in the morning or evening, pouring water directly onto the soil as splashing the leaves can spread diseases, like tomato blight.

Feeding makes an enormous difference to crop quantity and quality. A specific tomato fertilizer is best, applied as directed from when the first fruit trusses start to form.

How to prune Roma tomatoes

‘Roma’ is a semi-determinate or bushy type of tomato which doesn’t need ‘pruning’ as such. Train or tie growth regularly to its support to avoid the plant becoming a tangled mass of stems.

How to propagate Roma tomatoes.

Sowing Roma tomato seeds
Sowing Roma tomato seeds

Sow seed indoors in warmth (18-21°C) from February to early April. Once seedlings have germinated, transplant to individual 8cm pots and grow on in a warm well-lit place such as a sunny windowsill. Pot on into larger pots once the roots have filled the first pots. Use peat-free, multi-purpose compost for growing in pots.

Pests and diseases

Tomatoes with blossom end rot
Tomatoes with blossom end rot

Like all tomatoes, ‘Roma’ is liable to a number of potential pest and disease issues, though the right growing conditions will avoid most problems to some extent. The variety ‘Roma VF’ is most widely sold as it has good natural resistance to two common tomato diseases: verticillium wilt and fusarium wilt.

Aphids, whitefly, and red spider mite are pests that are most likely to occur under cover. Inspect regularly and act early before pests take hold: sticky honeydew that they secrete, or distorted leaves, are often the first signs of a problem. Biological controls work well under cover and are environmentally friendly. Help prevent attack with companion planting: strong-smelling marigolds or basil to deter pests and nectar-rich flowers to attract beneficial predators.

Late blight is a fungal disease that is widespread in wet, mild summers: black patches appear on the leaves and stems, fruits are discoloured and quickly rot before the plant eventually collapses and dies. Outdoor plants are particularly vulnerable to blight, although indoor ones can also be affected. Act promptly to dispose of infected leaves and fruits – don’t compost as the spores can survive.

When growing Roma tomatoes in a greenhouse, the ideal maximum temperature is 25°C. Too much sun and heat can cause fruit disorders such as sun scald and greenback, leaf curl, scorch, and poor fruit set. Put up shading (whitewash-type or netting), ventilate well and spray water on paths – but not the plants – to raise humidity. Ventilate during cool weather too as diseases thrive in damp, humid air. Remove dead plant material promptly before it becomes a source of infection.


Brown patches on the bottom of the fruit are most likely blossom end rot, caused by a calcium deficiency, usually due to soil conditions being too dry for the plant to take up the nutrients it needs.

Advice on buying Roma tomatoes

Either buy seeds to grow your own Roma tomatoes from scratch or buy ready-grown plants from mid to late spring. Buying plants is much more expensive but is a good option if you only want one or two plants, or don’t have anywhere warm and sunny indoors to raise them from seed.

Always buy seeds from a reputable supplier and check plants for signs of damage or disease before buying

Where to buy Roma tomatoes