What are Oxheart Tomatoes and Why They Should Be Grown

If you’re looking for a delicious and nutritious tomato to plant in your garden, look no further than the oxheart tomato. This unique variety is becoming more and more popular each year, thanks to its sweet flavour and high nutritional value.

Oxhearts are a type of tomato that many people have probably heard about or have seen images of. If you’re unfamiliar with oxhearts, you might believe they’re a new variety, but in reality, they’ve been around for almost a century.

The Oxheart tomato is a mid-season through late-season tomato that is similar to beefsteak types and equally handy. Their imposing height and pointed bottom are reminiscent of a beef heart, which explains the name.

The flower end (bottom) elongates as a result of a mutation, giving the blossom tip an odd shape. The first specimens were discovered in around 1925…

Keep reading to learn more about oxheart tomatoes and why you should plant them this season!

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Table of Contents

Origin and History Of The Oxheart Tomato

The ‘Oxheart’ tomato is a Russian variety that was first mentioned during the final decade of the 1800s. It later arrived in the United States, where it is still widely cultivated today. In France and Italy, ‘Oxheart’ tomatoes are often sold at farmer’s markets.

While oxheart tomatoes can technically be grown outdoors, they’re best suited for greenhouse cultivation. This is because they require warm temperatures and lots of sunlight to produce fruit. Oxheart tomatoes are also sensitive to cold weather and can be damaged by frost so a cold frame may be a good option.

oxheart tomato originated from russia

How To Spot An Oxheart Tomat

An oxheart tomato is easy to spot. They’re large, with a heart or cone-shaped bottom. The fruits can grow up to a pound or more and are usually red, although there are also pink and yellow varieties.

The oxheart tomato plant is typically tall (up to six feet) and has regular leaves. The vines are indeterminate, meaning they will continue to grow and produce fruit until the first frost of the season.

When growing oxhearts, keep in mind that they are indeterminate, which means they will continue to develop and produce all year if not pruned or supported.

However, while some dwarf types do grow to a height of two feet in a year, others such as the Dwarf Purple Oxheart will instead continue to develop and produce like an indeterminate tomato but without growing tall. In 10- to 15-gallon pots, dwarf oxheart cultivars can be readily produced (although some gardeners have had success with 5-gallon buckets).

Oxheart tomato plants are frequently sickly-looking. Their leaves are often curved and drooping. But don’t worry, this is quite typical. ‘Oxheart’ fruit, once ripe, softens quickly, so consume or process the fruit right away after harvesting it for maximum enjoyment. The tomatoes have an exquisite fragrance and a sweet yet slightly acidic flavour.

oxheart varieties

Oxheart vs. Beefsteak Tomatoes

Planting and caring for ox tomatoes is similar to that of beefsteak tomatoes, with the exception of shape. However, since most oxhearts are huge, they can compete with the biggest beefsteaks. If you enjoy plucking big tomatoes, consider growing oxhearts.

What Do Oxheart Tomatoes Taste Like?

Oxheart tomatoes are sweet and tangy, with a rich flavour that’s often described as earthy or smoky. They’re perfect for eating fresh or using in salads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, and sauces.

vegetable garden

How Do You Grow Oxheart Tomatoes?

Place them indoors to start

Unless you live in a place with a long growing season, sow your oxheart tomato seeds indoors 4 to 8 weeks before your average last frost date. After night temperatures remain above 50°F for at least two consecutive nights, transplant outside. I always advocate planting your tomatoes deep and removing the bottom leaves while burying part of the stem, which will quickly form new side roots.

Fertilize Your Garden Beds

Tomatoes are heavy feeders and, in particular, big types such as oxhearts. I recommend fertilizing your garden beds before transplanting with an all-purpose fertilizer or a fertilizer specifically made for blooming and fruit (lower N and higher P and K in the NPK numbers). Tomato plants will also benefit from reapplications of fertilizer throughout the season. Every 7 to 14 days, liquid plant feeds are generally used; continuous release fertilizer granules/spikes can be applied every 1 to 3 months, depending on the instructions provided by your fertilizer.

Growing From Seed Outside

Tomatoes can be started from seed, but most gardeners buy transplants. When buying oxheart tomato plants, look for healthy plants with dark green leaves and no evidence of disease or pests.

Space Them Out Evenly

Space the oxheart tomato plants about 36 inches apart in rows that are six to eight feet long. If you’re using a trellis, train the vines to grow up it. Be sure to provide support for the large fruit by tying them to the trellis as they grow.

Water Regularly

Water oxheart tomatoes regularly, especially during dry spells. Mulch around the base of the plant to help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds. Feed your tomatoes once a week with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted according to package directions.

If you would like to learn more about growing tomatoes in general, then make sure you have a read of our comprehensive guide.

oxheart tomatoes harvesting

What can you use Oxheart tomatoes for?

Tomatoes that are large enough to be picked whole should be harvested from the end of July through the beginning of October. Tomatoes that are known as “oxheart” are excellent for salads, but they’re also delicious in soups and sauces. Here are some examples of what they can be used in:

  • Salads
  • Sauces
  • Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Sandwiches

Oxheart tomatoes have enough flesh for processing and canning if you end up with more than you can consume. However, because they are not pasted tomatoes, they may take longer to thicken into paste/sauce. However, the flavour is still fantastic.

oxheart tomato soup

Oxheart Tomato Varietes

Oxheart tomatoes are beautiful and flavorful. Here are five of the greatest ‘Oxheart’ tomato cultivars to grow in your garden:

  • Anna Russian – The fruit is heart-shaped and plump, with dark crimson flesh that becomes increasingly purple when ripe. The outer layer of the fruit is a light beige colour. The flavour is mild, making it ideal for tomato sauces.
  • The Bulgarian Oxheart – Various pink, heart-shaped fruit develop in the summer. The strong tomato plants may reach a height of 180cm.
  • Coeur de Boeuf – Is a French heirloom Oxheart variety with light red fruit and prominent ribs. Tomatoes from France, known as ‘Coeur de Boeuf,’ mature between July and August. The plants may grow to be up to 200cm tall while being grown outdoors under some shelter from the rain.
  • The White Oxheart – The fruit of this tomato is light yellow and like most off-white tomatoes, it is fruity and delicious. The plant grows to a height of 200cm and produces large yields in the greenhouse.
  • Orange Russian – The fruit has beautiful, heart-shaped orange-red marbled tomatoes. The fruits weigh up to 300g and are delicious, sweet, and fiery. This variety should be grown in a greenhouse.
few seeds

People also ask

What are oxheart tomatoes good for?

Oxheart tomatoes are great for salads and sandwiches. They can also be used in sauces, pizza, pasta, and other dishes. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Salads
  • Sauces
  • Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Sandwiches

Do oxheart tomatoes need staking?

No, oxheart tomatoes do not need to be staked unless you are trellising them. If you trellis them, tie the vines to the support as they grow.

Are oxheart tomatoes easy to grow?

Yes, oxheart tomatoes are easy to grow. They need full sun, regular watering, and fertile soil. You can fertilize them once a week with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted according to package directions.

soil moist

What is the best way to store oxheart tomatoes?

The best way to store oxheart tomatoes is by keeping them in a cool, dry place. You can also refrigerate them. Do not freeze them as this will ruin their flavour and texture.

Is oxheart tomato paste good for you?

Oxheart tomato paste is high in lycopene which has been linked to reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. It is also a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants.​

Have a read of an article we have written about how to remove lectins from tomatoes.

meaty flesh

How tall do oxheart tomatoes grow?

Oxheart tomatoes can grow up to 5 to 7 feet. If you are growing them in a greenhouse, they may get even taller.

Are oxheart tomatoes low acid?

Yes, they are relatively low. There are some types that, while not being particularly high in acid, have mild flavours and dark colours such as Roma, Oxheart Pink Oxheart Yellow, and Yellow Pear.

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Oliver Wright

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