Home Gardening How to grow Beefsteak Tomatoes

How to grow Beefsteak Tomatoes – GIY Plants

Beefsteak tomato sitting on dill

The largest tomato in regular commercial production is the Beefsteak tomato (Solanum lycopersicum “Beefsteak”). Beefsteak tomatoes are known for their large, ridged, irregularly shaped fruit. Which weigh on average from 6-10 oz (170-280 g) to a record-breaking 7 lbs. 12 oz. (3.51kg).

The name “Beefsteak” originates in the US. Where the Campbell Soup Company first adopted the brand name for their canned tomatoes. At the time, a canned tomato actually consisted of a single enormous beefsteak tomato.

The scientific name is sometimes referred to as Lycopersicum esculentum. But genetic analysis in the 1990s did not warrant putting them in their own genus. This caused them to be reverted back to the genus Solanum in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). Which also includes the familiar potato, eggplant, tobacco plant, and petunia.

Beefsteak Tomato Care

Beefsteak tomatoes are annual vining plants, and need sturdy stakings or trellises. As their vines can spread 6-12 ft. (1.8-3.6 m) long, and the heavy fruits may cause stems to snap. Plant them at least 18-36 inches (45-90 cm) apart to avoid overcrowding.

Beefsteak tomatoes have a growing season of about 85 days to harvest. And need full sun as well as plenty of water and compost to prosper.

However, they are generally easy to care for plants. That produce delicious meaty flesh and “homegrown tomatoes”. Which according to the singer John Denver, can be eaten with eggs, gravy, or beans. But is unsurpassed when paired with bacon and lettuce.


The best soil to grow Beefsteak tomatoes is a well-draining and slightly acidic (pH 6.2-6.8). As well as a fertile loam soil high in organic matter.

Mulch around each plant to increase fertility, drown weeds, and maintain moisture.


Tomatoes are thirsty plants, so give them at least 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of water per week. Divided between two heavy soakings per week to allow the water to seep into the root system.

When fruiting, plants may need even more water. Which is critical in preventing cracked fruits and blossom drop/rot. However, avoid getting the soil sopping wet.


Tomatoes need full direct sunlight, with a minimum of 4-6 hours, or ideally 8 hours.

Watch out for shades from other plants and, if grown indoors, place near a south or southeastern-facing window for the most sunlight.

Humidity & temperature

The optimum growing temperature for tomatoes is 70-75°F (21-24°C) during the daytime and 60-65°F (16-18°C) at night.

Consistent temperatures greater than 92°F during the ripening period may cause fruits to lose flavor, texture, and color. Temperatures below 55°F may stop fruit from forming.

Tomatoes prefer higher relative humidity between 50-70%. With humidities greater than 60% shown to significantly enhance the self-pollination. [1]


Tomatoes are hungry plants. So, fertilize during planting and again every 3-4 weeks with about 1 pound (0.5 kg) of fertilizer per 100 sq. ft. (9 sq. m.).

Use a fertilizer with about half as much nitrogen as phosphates and potassium (NPK ratio: 5-10-5 or 5-10-10). As high nitrogen causes excessive vine growth and twisted foliage. Which delays flowering and reduces yields.

Diseases & Pests

Tomatoes are prone to a number of diseases and problems. Including leaf curl, blossom end rot, blossom drop, cracking, weed spray damage, wilts, blights, and other foliage diseases (e.g. fusarium wilt, septoria leaf spot, anthracnose, yellow leaf curl, etc.). [2]

It’s common for tomatoes to be infected with worms such as fruitworms, cutworms, and hornworms. Other common pests include aphids, flea beetles, leaf miners, spider mites, stalk borer, and stink bugs.

Most fungal diseases and insects can be treated with a fungicide or pesticide.

Hardiness Zones

Tomatoes will grow in any USDA zone 3 and up; however, zones 5, 6, 7, 8 are ideal zones. In colder climates, it may be necessary to use a greenhouse. To ensure adequate sunlight and temperature needs.

Days to Maturity

Beefsteak tomatoes come in a few different varieties. But days to maturity range from a low of 60 days for “Earl Girl” to a high of 82 days for “Rutgers”. [3]

Beefsteak Tomato Varieties

Tomatoes first originated in northwestern South America as wild, irregular vines. With fruits no bigger than small grapes.

Today they come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. There are both bush and vining beefsteak varieties to suit any space and taste:

  • Big Beef – Old fashioned, homegrown flavor with big bright red and high-yielding beefy fruits.
  • Brandywine – Often considered the best tasting. This popular heirloom tomato is known for its intense, juicy, pink, and meaty flesh that is not acidic. Ideal for salads.
  • Cherokee Purple – Dusty rose color with dense and juicy texture and a sweet flavor profile.
  • Early Girl – Popular for early ripening fruits (60 days) that are meaty and quite sweet.
  • German Johnson – Large, round bright red fruit with yellow striping. Pink and meaty flesh with old-fashioned tomato flavor.
  • Marmande – Ribbed and flattened globe shape with juicy meat and minimum seeds. Savory tomato flavor with a bit of tartness and sweetness.
  • Mortgage Lifter – Pink fruit with delicious rich and sweet taste, with few seeds and low acid.

How to grow Beefsteak Tomatoes

Growing beefsteak tomatoes on the vine

Sow seeds in about half an inch of moist humid soil in warm bright sun-lit settings. Ideally under a plastic cover or humidity dome. For 5-10 days (germination period) indoors.

Once sprouts are hardened and about 8 inches (20.5 cm) tall. You can transplant them to a well-draining, sunny, and moist compost-rich garden bed or grow bag outdoors.

If starting directly from seedlings or starter plants, they will need to be “hardened off”. By gradually exposing them outdoors in the shade for a few hours a day during the first week. Introduce sunlight gradually and wait for night temperatures to warm up before transplanting.

For starters, choose straight, stocky, and sturdy stems with dark green colors. Avoid starters with yellowing leaves or spots or ones already with flowers.

Beefsteak Tomato Plant Stages

Tray of potted baby beefsteak tomato seedlings

Beefsteak tomatoes go through 5 plant stages. Requiring ~50-85 days from planting to harvest: 1) early growth (25-30 days); 2) vegetative (20-25 days); 3) flowering (20-30 days); 4) fruit formation (20-30 days); and 5) mature fruiting (15-20 days).

Fruits will grow from green to pink to light then deeper red colors. Indicating they are ready for harvest.


[1] Shamshiri, R. R., Jones, J. W., Thorp, K. R., Ahmad, D., Man, H. C., & Taheri, S. (2018). http://archive.sciendo.com/INTAG/intag.2018.32.issue-2/intag-2017-0005/intag-2017-0005.pdf” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Review of optimum temperature, humidity, and vapour pressure deficit for microclimate evaluation and control in greenhouse cultivation of tomato: a review. International Agrophysics, 32(2), 287–302.

[2] Upham, W., (2015). Tomatoes. Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service K-State Research and Extension. Retrieved October 13, 2022.

[3] Kluepfel, M., Dufault, R. J., Ballew, J., Snipes, Z., & Williamson, J., (2022). Tomato. Home & Garden Information Center | Clemson University, South Carolina. Retrieved October 13, 2022.

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