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Chocolate Cherry Tomato Plant Care — A Definitive Guide

Chocolate Cherry Tomato Plant Care — A Definitive Guide

This heirloom Cherry Tomato is my favorite in the Tomato garden. 

Simply because it’s so easy to grow, looks attractive, can withstand drought and even high temperature. It rewards you continuously with the tiny fruits until the frost arrives. 

It belongs to the Solanaceae family. The botanical name for this plant is Lycopersicon Lycopersicum ‘Chocolate Cherry.’ 

Chocolate Cherry tomatoes originate from the Andes’ mountainous region. It classifies as a frost-sensitive annual.

This variety produces fruits in a beautiful shade of brick red, or brown. The word chocolate in the name indicates the chocolaty brown shading on the fruit. 

The fruit growing on this plant is not only tasty but also crack resistant.

Most people use the fruit in salads for a snack or canning. 

It’s an open-pollinated Tomato variety, so the seeds produced are true to type. You can easily clean and save the seeds for the next planting season. 

It’s not only packed with flavor but also rich in healthy nutrients. The main antioxidants in this fruit are anthocyanin and lycopene. 

You can pick the fruit even before it’s mature because it can easily ripe indoors. 

Everything about these gorgeous Cherry Tomatoes is shared in this guide to help you produce a bountiful Tomato crop. 

 

Chocolate Cherry Tomato Plant Care

This plant loves hot weather. In fact, it will die in cold weather; the ideal temperature range is 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 29 degrees Celsius). It also needs mineral-rich soil that is enriched using compost. In terms of sunlight, full sun is required for the healthiest growth of mature Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes. 

 

Basic Chocolate Cherry Tomato Plant Care

 

Soil

There are two requirements for Chocolate Cherry Tomato soil; it should be well-draining and rich in minerals. 

For best growth, make sure the soil pH ranges from 5.5 to 6.8. 

You can also use natural manure and compost to improve the soil before transplanting the Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes. 

If you started this plant from seeds, make sure you sow them 6-8 weeks before the last frost in spring. You should plant the seeds ¼ inch deep in the soil. 

You can sow plenty of seeds in a single cell, but it is important to perform thinning after germination. 

 

Water

Create a mixture using one gallon of water with a tablespoon of Epsom salt. Water the seedlings with this mixture while they are young. 

Mature plants enjoy one or two deep watering sessions every week instead of several light applications of water. 

 

Light

Full sun exposure is required to grow the Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes. Make sure they receive at least 4-6 hours of sunlight a day.

Indoor seedlings also require plenty of sunlight for growth. Else they will become leggy

You can install grow lights above the seedling to compensate for the sunlight. 

 

Temperature

The indoor seedlings can be transferred outside if the frost risk’s over. They prefer warm soil for healthy growth, so never move them outdoors if the weather is still cold. 

The seedlings need a temperature of 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 to 21 degrees Celsius) to grow robust and strong roots. Whereas a mature plant needs up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.4 degrees Celsius).

 

Humidity

Air humidity will affect the moisture and nutrient uptake for this plant. 

A humidity level of 65% or higher is desirable for this Cherry Tomato variety. 

 

Fertilizer

After transferring the seedlings to pots, feed your Chocolate Cherry tomato plants with a liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks. It is best to dilute the fertilizer at half strength to avoid burning the young roots. 

Once six weeks have passed, fertilize the young Chocolate Cherry Tomato plant with full strength fertilizer. 

I prefer fertilizing my Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes with compost tea, but you can also use a balanced vegetable or Tomato fertilizer. 

You can read our buying guide about the best fertilizers for Tomatoes to select a suitable fertilizer for your Chocolate Cherry Tomato plant. 

 

Repotting

First repotting for this plant is required when the seedlings produce the first pair of true leaves. The seedlings should be transferred from seed cells to small pots. 

Later in the growing season, avoid disturbing the plant and only repot if the soil is compacted or there is a root rot issue. 

 

Pruning

Prune the suckers growing between the stem and branches to help the Chocolate Cherry produce bigger fruits. 

Removing suckers will also improve the distribution of sunlight, which helps in the early ripening of the fruits. 

You should also pinch few leaves at the top when Chocolate Cherry has developed about five trusses. 

Like many other indeterminate Tomatoes, this one also requires support or stakes. 

 

Propagation

Propagating Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes via cuttings is easy. Just follow the steps given below:

  • Take 6-8 inches long cuttings from a healthy Chocolate Cherry plant using sanitized tools. You can also use the suckers for propagation. 
  • Place this cutting in a jar filled with clean water. 
  • Place the cutting in a dark location for the first few days. Once the cutting has recovered from transplant shock, it can be moved to a sunny spot. 
  • Change the water regularly and always use chlorine-free water. 
  • Once you are sure the cutting has grown few healthy roots, transfer it to a soil-based growing medium. 

Follow the plant care mentioned in this article to help the cutting mature into a healthy Chocolate Cherry Tomato plant. 

 

Blooms

The Chocolate Cherry Tomato produces tiny yellow flowers in the blooming phase. 

 

Growth

When this indeterminate plant variety reaches maturity, the height is about 6-8 ft. (1.8 – 2.4 m). It can spread 3-4 ft. (0.9 – 1.2 m). 

Under an ideal growing environment, this plant matures in 70 days. Most growers suggest that it has a moderate growth rate. The seeds will take 8-15 days for germination. 

The fruit is 1 inch in size, and each plant is loaded with clusters of Cherry Tomatoes in the harvest season. 

The fruit usually grows in clusters of 6 or 8, so even a single plant can give you a large number of fruits throughout the year. 

The fruit is chocolaty brown or red, but the foliage has the regular green color like other Tomato plant varieties. 

Tomato plants need proper spacing to avoid fungus growth and diseases. This one should be planted at a spacing of 24 – 36 inches (60 – 90 cm). 

 

Common Problems for Chocolate Cherry Tomato

 

Blight

If you grow your Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes under high humidity and temperature, they can fall prey to blight.

Letting the vines crawl on the ground without any support can also let the blight fungus take over the plant. 

Early blight is caused by Alternaria linariae (fungus), whereas late blight is caused by a water-based pathogen called Phytophthora infestans. 

Late blight attacks the Tomato plants in cold and wet conditions. 

Crop rotation, adequate air circulation, and sulfur or copper sprays can help you in treating blight on the Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes. 

Always make sure the water does not sit on the leaves of the Chocolate Cherry plant for too long. 

 

Leggy Seedlings

The leggy growth on the Chocolate Cherry seedlings is a result of low sunlight. 

This issue is easily resolved by installing artificial lights or moving the seedlings outdoors under the sun on warm days. 

 

Blossom End Rot

This is a common issue for many Tomato plant varieties, including the low maintenance Chocolate Cherry Tomato. 

The first symptom is sunken, brown, or black areas at the fruit’s bottom. 

Most sources and researchers recommend this rotting is a result of calcium deficiency, but uneven watering can also be the reason. 

Always deeply water the Chocolate Cherry Tomato plant but never overwater. 

Feed the plant with a fertilizer that contains calcium. You can also add chelated calcium in liquid form. 

 

Yellow Leaves

This Tomato variety is very low maintenance, but yellow leaves are a common occurrence on most leafy plants. 

These are caused by air humidity, high heat, and water on the leaves. 

Avoid overhead watering and water the soil directly near the base of the plant. Perform thinning to improve air circulation.

 

Bacterial Wilt

This wilting is caused by Ralstonia Solanacearum, bacteria that overwinters in soil and enters damaged roots. 

For this reason, it’s important to avoid damaging the roots while repotting or transplanting. 

The initial symptom is the sudden wilting of a healthy plant. 

And if you examine the inside of the stems on the infected Chocolate Cherry Tomato, it’s brown and contains yellow liquid. 

Once infected, you will have to dispose of the plant because there is no other remedy for this disease. 

You can practice crop rotation every three years to control the spread of the bacteria. 

 

Tips for Growing Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes

  • It is important to maintain moist soil during the fruiting stage but overwatering should be avoided. The extra water might increase the size of the Tomato fruit, but it reduces the overall flavor.
  • The young seedlings should be buried in the soil up to the point where true leaves are grown.
  • The seeds should not be exposed to light until they have sprouted. 
  • The best time to perform thinning is when the seedlings reach 2 inches (5 cm) in height. 
  • If your plant has become bushy, you can prune or install stakes to train the vines for better growing habits. 
  • Extreme cold and hot temperatures should be avoided as they can affect the development of the fruits. 
  • Once the plant enters the blooming phase, switch to potassium or phosphorus-based fertilizer. 
  • Sprinkling a handful of lime in the soil hole with the right fertilizer can help you prevent most issues associated with Cherry Tomatoes. 
  • Regularly prune the suckers to help the plant focus its energy for fruit production.
  • Avoid leaving ripe Tomatoes on the vines for too long because they might start rotting. Picking the fruit on time also encourages new fruit growth.
  • Avoid feeding your plant with a heavy dose of nitrogen before the fruit setting. It can hinder fruit production and results in excessive foliage.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Chocolate Cherry Tomato

 

Is hardening off necessary for the Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes?

Hardening off is an important step in Tomato’s care. This prepares your plant for the outdoor environment. Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes should be hardened for about two weeks before moving them permanently to the outdoor garden. 

 

My Chocolate Cherry Tomato seeds are not sprouting. What is wrong?

Either the seeds are too old, or the soil temperature is cold. Always buy the seeds from a reliable seller and install bottom heat pads for warmth. Sow the seeds deeper for good root development. 

 

Can I use this Chocolate Cherry Tomato plants for container gardening?

The Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes is a versatile summer plant. You can definitely grow it in a large pot or container. It requires the same plant care in container gardening as well. 

 

How much spacing is required between individual rows of Chocolate Cherry Tomato?

3 to 4 ft (0.9 to 1.2 m) spacing is great between rows of Chocolate Cherry Tomato. 

 

How will I know when my Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes are ripe and ready for harvest?

If you cannot judge the Tomatoes from the color, look at the texture. When these Tomatoes are ripe, they are soft and squishy. Ripe ones will separate from the vines easily without any effort. In most climates, June to October is the harvesting season. 

 

What is the ideal soil temperature for the germination of Chocolate Cherry Tomato seeds?

This plant usually takes 1 or 2 weeks for germination but make sure the soil temperature is 70 – 79 degrees Fahrenheit (21 – 26 degrees Celsius). 

 

Can I grow the Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes in a hanging basket?

You can grow them using pots or hanging baskets but make sure the growing medium stays moist. 

 

What other vegetables grow well with this Tomato variety?

You can easily grow cucumber, basil, chives, lettuce, carrot, and onions with this variety. 

 

How can I protect my Chocolate Cherry Tomato plant against cutworms?

You can protect the Chocolate Cherry Tomato from cutworms in two ways. Place cornmeal near the base of the plant or install a protective collar around the stems. 

 

Conclusion

The Chocolate Cherry Tomato variety is perfect for greenhouse gardeners or growers who want to experience a long harvest season. 

The fruit has a sweet, fruity taste which makes it a perfect addition to your daily salad. 

The Chocolate Cherry Tomato is loved by many for its complex flavor and color. 

If you follow the care instructions in this guide, the Chocolate Cherry will be the healthiest variety in your garden. 

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