Neil Moran gardens in northern Michigan and is anxious to see gardeners succeed in the cold climate. To this end he has published two books on gardening in the north country and an ebook on how to save money when buying garden tools and other products. He also taught horticulture for over 12 years and conducts garden workshops.


Growing Indigo Tomatoes in the Cold Climate
by Neil Moran - posted 04/19/13

There’s a new tomato in town that is sure to turn heads. Indigo tomatoes are as healthy to eat as they are colorful to look at. Indigo Rose is perhaps the first blue tomato, or at least the first one I’ve ever seen! It is blue because it has high levels of anthocyanin, which is the same natural dye that gives blueberries their color; and like blueberries, they’re full of antioxidants to keep us healthy.        

Since Indigo Rose requires 75 days to produce a ripe tomato, I advise northern gardeners to try the grafted kinds. I grew three different varieties of grafted tomatoes last year in my zone 4 climate and was amazed at the amount of tomatoes that were produced, especially from my Beef Steak and Sweet Million varieties. These tomatoes  are grafted from a hardy, vigorous root stock that have a little more getty up an go in the cool weather and will keep on going in the late summer after seed tomatoes have petered out. Grafted plants are a real Godsend for us northern gardeners.

I think the Indigos are going to be popular as people look toward healthier eating. They should also be a nice novelty at the farmer’s markets. Indigoes aren’t feeling the blues, so to speak. You'll find them in other fancy colors, including Indigo Ruby, Indigo Sun and the reputedly best tasting Indigo Kumquat, a tomato with an aromatic, semi-sweet tangerine colored flesh under "distinct deep violet shoulders." The Indigo tomato was developed by breeders at Oregon State University.

Planting Indigos from Seed

If you do decide to plant them from seed, which I'm going to try along with my grafted Indigos, deploy all of the season extending ideas you can muster. For me it means starting them from seed inside right now. I'll transplant them when the weather warms in a raised bed in front of my south facing greenhouse. The bed will contain lots of organic material, like compost and well rotted manure. I'll lay down black plastic and slice holes for plants. The black plastic will provide precious heat to these 75 day babes. I'll feed regularly with a low nitrogen fertilizer, perhaps my 5-1-1 fish fertilizer. But not too much! I don't want to end up with a lot of vegetative growth and no maters!

As for watering I'll go with the suggestion of tomato aficionado Alice Doyle, of Log House Plants and water deeply and let the the soil dry out completely before I water again. And if by golly they still haven't ripened by the end of our short season I'll pull up the plants (gently, of course) and hang them in my warm, airy greenhouse (you can do this in any warm building); the tomatoes will ripen on the vines in this warm environment.

So go ahead, give the Indigos a try and let me know how you make out.

Happy Gardening,


Sources for grafted Indigo tomatoes:


Sources for Indigo tomato seed:



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Christopher (Louisiana - Zone 8a) - 04/20/2013

Hey Neil, I'm going to try to grow some Indigo Rose this year. I couldn't find any Indigo Kumquat seeds online. Have you found them anywhere?
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