How to Plant, Grow, and Care for ‘Sun Gold’ Tomatoes

Looking for an exceptional cherry tomato to grow this summer? Look no further than ‘Sun Gold’. This prolific fruiter yields clusters of juicy, flavorful, low-acid tomatoes from early in the season until frost. Join gardening expert Katherine Rowe in exploring ‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes for the summer harvest.

Green baskets filled with small, vibrant orange 'Sungold' tomatoes; each tomato glowing with a rich hue.


It’s no wonder ‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes are one of the most popular cherry tomatoes for the garden. This early-maturing hybrid variety is beloved as a gardener favorite for its bountiful fruits, cheery yellow-orange color, and deliciously sweet flavor like a taste of summer squeezed into juicy, bite-sized fruits.

‘Sun Gold’ glows in the garden with full clusters of perfectly round, golden tomatoes. Plants are high-yielding and disease-resistant, adding to the advantages and ease of growing ‘Sun Gold’. They’ll grow and produce the tender orb fruits from early summer until frost for an ongoing harvest.

Brighten the garden and the salad bowl with ‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes. Here, we’ll explore how to easily incorporate these favorite cherry tomatoes into our gardens this season.


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Sun Gold Pole Cherry Tomato Seeds


A bunch of sunlit 'Sungold' tomatoes in varying hues bask in the light, showcasing their glossy, smooth skins.
The ‘Sungold’ tomato is an annual vegetable belonging to the Solanaceae family.
Plant Type Annual vegetable
Family Solanaceae
Genus Solanum
Species lycopersicum
Native Area Central America, South America
Exposure Full sun
Height 6’ vines
Watering Requirements Average
Pests and Diseases Aphids, flea beetles, hornworms, leaf spot
Maintenance Average
Soil Type Rich loams
Hardiness Zone 10-11

What are ‘Sun Gold’ Tomatoes?

‘These cherry tomatoes boast an exceptionally sweet flavor in abundant, bite-sized fruits. Indeterminate plants yield clusters of tangerine-orange tomatoes throughout the growing season. The juicy, tender fruits are among the tastiest of the cherries

‘Sun Gold’ is a hybrid cherry tomato whose parents are a trade secret. Tokita Seed Company of Japan introduced the golden hybrid in 1992. Some growers speculate the prized heirloom beefsteak-type tomato ‘Brandywine’ is one of the parents, favored for superior flavor and garden performance. We’ll just have to be content with knowing hardy stock led to a strong garden performer and excellent flavor.

Beyond its flavorful fruits, this variety is noteworthy for its disease resistance. Plants resist fusarium wilt and tobacco mosaic virus, two common tomato fungal problems. ‘Sun Gold’s’ high yields, vigor, disease resistance, and quality fruits earned it the Royal Horticulture Society’s prestigious Award of Garden Merit


A cluster of ripe orange and green 'Sungold' tomatoes nestled among green vines, showcasing a rich and healthy garden scene.
They produce long vines that benefit from staking or trellising.

‘Sun Gold’ is an early producer, with fruit maturing around 57 days after transplanting. The productive plants bear clusters of 8 to 14 fruits, with each petite globe weighing about one to one and a half ounces. Each plant produces about 120 fruits. The fruits have a low acid content and a sweet flavor with citrus notes.

Cherry tomato clusters begin to ripen at the base (stem) and progress to the fruits on the tips. The ripening phases stagger the harvest over a few days and create an attractive look to the plant with bunches of green, yellow, and rich gold tomatoes. Once the fruit gets going, the harvests continue weekly throughout the summer and into fall. 

As an indeterminate plant, it has six-foot-long or longer vines, but four-to-five-foot vines are more likely. Indeterminate tomato plants grow and produce fruit all season until frost. The long vining stems benefit from staking, caging, or trellising to maintain production and health.

The fruits are tender and thin-walled, making them fragile for commercial shipping to grocery stores but perfect for the local grower’s market or home garden. As fruits ripen and become full of juice, they sometimes crack or split (especially following rain, water fluctuations, or intense sun exposure when ripe). 

An option to prevent cracking is to pick fruits a few days early to let them fully ripen indoors. Fruits are flavorful even before they are fully golden, and early picking won’t compromise flavor. It also protects the thin-walled fruits from the sun, garden pests, and birds, who find them tasty, too.

Native Area

Clusters of 'Sungold' tomatoes, a blend of brown and green hues, dangle amidst lush foliage.
Tomatoes were spread to Central and South America by humans and wildlife.

All tomatoes originate from wild, tropical ancestors in South America, with a narrow growing range along the coast and bordered by the Andes Mountains from Ecuador to Chile. The original cherry tomato, a wild, weedy plant with small fruits, dates to Ecuador some 80,000 years ago.

Humans cultivated this small-fruited plant, spreading its range to Central America and further into South America through people and wildlife. The fruits that became the basis for the modern tomato came into cultivation in Meso-America 7,000 years ago.

Explorers from Spain brought domesticated tomatoes to Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, but they were slow to enter cuisine. Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, Solanaceae, with peppers, eggplants, tobacco, and many herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and trees. Nightshades had a reputation for toxicity, so plant collectors gave caution to tomatoes.


Gardener's hands gently planting a tomato seedling into nutrient-rich brown soil, bathed in warm sunlight.
Space rows three to four feet apart for optimal growth.

Tomatoes are frost-sensitive plants, requiring warm air and soil temperatures for best growth. They grow easily from seed. Start seeds indoors five to six weeks before the anticipated final frost date. Transplant seedlings outdoors one to two weeks after the last expected frost has passed and as nighttime temperatures are above 55°F (13°C).

Vegetables in the nightshade family benefit from crop rotation yearly because they are susceptible to transmitting diseases. If you’re growing tomatoes in the ground, choose a spot where you haven’t grown other nightshades (eggplants, tomatillos, potatoes, peppers, and other tomatoes) in the past year for a clean plot.

Indeterminate cherry tomatoes like ‘Sun Gold’ need a two- to three-foot spacing between plants. If planting in rows, space rows three to four feet apart to give the vining stems plenty of growing room and circulation. 

Plant tomato stems deep; each hair on the stem has the potential to set a root. You can plant as deep as leaving only one or two upper leaf sets exposed. Some gardeners lay plants horizontally in a buried trench, leaving one or two sets of leaves above ground for maximum rooting. A vigorous root system leads to strong, stable plants with increased nutrient and water absorption for best fruiting.

The long vines need a support structure for best growth. Install the support structure at planting time to avoid disturbing roots and foliage later. A large cage provides ample space.

‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes grow in containers as long the pot is large enough to accommodate mature plants with plenty of soil volume for a robust root system. A 15 to 20-gallon container gives indeterminate tomatoes room to grow. ‘Sun Gold’ may get a bit tall and rangy in containers as the season wears on, but the bounty of golden orb tomatoes is worth the space allotted.


A person wearing white gloves carefully plants young tomato seedlings into a raised garden bed, ensuring each one is gently settled into the rich soil.
Gradually expose seedlings to outdoor conditions in a sheltered area for about a week.

After starting seeds indoors, tomato seedlings should experience a hardening-off period before being transplanted into the garden. As frost passes and temperatures warm, gradually expose the seedlings to outdoor garden conditions. 

Place seedlings outside in a protected area (out of direct sunlight and winds) and gradually move the plants to conditions mirroring their new garden location. This hardening-off period takes about a week to 10 days (and sometimes up to two weeks), giving seedlings a chance to acclimate to outside growing conditions.

How to Grow

While ‘Sun Gold’ is a relatively carefree tomato plant, it benefits from specific cultural conditions for the best growth and vigor. Plenty of sunlight, consistent water, and air circulation are key to tomato plant health.


A lush 'Sungold' tomato vine laden with both ripe and unripe fruits, glistening under the warm rays of the sun.
They benefit from dappled light or afternoon shade in hot, sunny locations.

Like other tomatoes, this variety grows best in full-sun garden locations. Plants thrive with at least six hours or more of sunlight. Tomatoes can grow in partial shade with at least four to six hours of sun, but flowering, fruiting, and growth decrease with more shade.

In areas with intense sun on summer afternoons, the plant appreciates dappled light or afternoon shade to protect foliage and fruits from scorching. 


Juicy 'Sungold' tomatoes gleam with fresh raindrops, displaying a spectrum of hues from green to warm orange-red.
Maintain consistent soil moisture levels without overwatering.

‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes require one to two inches of water per week. In mild temperatures, soaking twice a week is sufficient. As the season warms and in hot or dry spells, increase irrigation to three times a week or as much as every other day.

Consistent water and even moisture prevent plant stress and physiological problems like blossom end rot and disease susceptibility. Moist, but not soggy, soils are best since overly wet conditions lead to disease problems.

When watering tomatoes, avoid splashing the leaves whenever possible. Ground irrigation and watering at the base of the plant is ideal. Watering at the soil level allows water to penetrate the roots without spreading fungus or bacteria among the leaves. If sprinklers or overhead sprays are your watering option, water in the early morning so foliage can dry out in the day’s sun.

For ‘tomatoes in containers, provide drainage holes and a well-draining potting mix suited for vegetables. Check the soil moisture in containers often, as they dry out quickly in the summer heat.


Two hands cradle rich, brown soil, ready for planting seeds and nurturing growth in a garden.
Enhance soil richness by generously topdressing with compost at planting time.

Tomatoes grow best in organically rich soils with good drainage. They prefer slightly acidic soils with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8

Top dress generously with compost at planting time to enhance soil richness, aeration, and moisture retention. Lightly turn the soil and compost and dig in new plants.

Temperature and Humidity

Ripe 'Sungold' tomatoes dangling; their vibrant orange hue contrast against green vine.
Maintain temperatures above 55°F (13°C) for seedlings and 55-60°F (13-16°C) for soil.

‘Sun Gold’ is an early producer tolerant of cool spring temperatures (but not frosty conditions). It thrives in the heat of summer and lasts into fall until temperatures drop. Pick fruits until your first frost, even if unripe, and store them indoors to ripen or use in cooking.

Seedlings grow well with temperatures above 55°F (13°C) and soil temperatures at 55-60°F (13-16°C). Warm temperatures between 70-80°F (21-27°C) are best

In humid conditions, ensure plenty of air circulation between plants. Place containers in an area with airflow between other pots, walls, etc.


A close-up of dark, fertile loam soil, showcasing its rich texture and earthy color.
Use a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content.

These cherry tomatoes benefit from the nutrients of compost and loamy soils. As quick-fruiting annuals, plants appreciate additional fertilizer to promote vigor and fruiting. Ensure you do not overfertilize; too much nitrogen leads to stress and disease issues. It also creates leafy, vigorous plants with few blooms or fruits. Use a balanced organic fertilizer at planting (like 5-5-5) and switch when plants establish. Applications of fish emulsion, kelp, and seaweed at planting and during growth add necessary enrichment for growing, flowering, and fruiting.

For flowering and fruiting, we’ll want a fertilizer higher in phosphorous (the “P” in the N-P-K rate of fertilizers) and lower in nitrogen (N). A 6-8-12, 8-32-16, or 6-24-24 ratio is usual for tomatoes in the flowering phase. A tomato-specific organic fertilizer is a great option.


A gloved hand delicately pinches off small offshoots from a tomato plant, ensuring healthy growth.
Applying mulch enhances plant growth by conserving moisture.

Indeterminate tomatoes grow tall and leggy by the season’s end. Pruning isn’t necessary with caged plants, nor is it essential, but pinching off suckering offshoots can be beneficial, especially with staked or trellised plants. Pinching low offshoots, or at least pinching off the ends when shoots are six to eight inches long, directs energy to the upper parts of the plant and keeps leaves and fruits off the soil level.

Mulching is another regular maintenance practice at planting and as needed during the growing season. Initially, let the sun warm plant roots for growth without mulch. When stems reach 18-24 inches tall, layer two to three inches of weed-free straw around plants. Mulch aids moisture retention, weed suppression, and soil temperature regulation.

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Growing ‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes from seed is an easy way to incorporate this favorite into the garden. Purchase seeds annually rather than collecting them from an existing plant. This is a hybrid cherry tomato, so collected seeds won’t grow true to type.

Growing From Seed

An open red tomato, its juicy interior exposed, rests on a white paper towel with seeds scattered around.
The tomato seeds usually germinate in 5-10 days.

Start tomato seeds indoors in late winter and early spring or four to six weeks before your expected final frost date in cold climates. Tomato seeds germinate quickly, usually in 5-10 days.

  • Plant seeds ¼” deep in a lightweight potting medium in a tray, cell, or small pot with drainage.
  • Place seeds in a spot with temperatures near 75°F (24°C) for germination.
  • Keep potting media evenly moist.
  • When sprouts emerge, place them in a sunny location like a windowsill.
  • Step seedlings up from cell packs to a small pot when two to three sets of true leaves appear.
  • When seedlings are under six inches tall and just as full, harden them off to prepare for planting in the garden.

Common Problems

Tomatoes are susceptible to pests and diseases in the garden. Fortunately, ‘Sun Gold’ is resistant to the typical tomato fungal problems of wilt and mosaic virus. 

Maintaining optimal cultural requirements, especially consistent watering, air circulation, soil health, and crop rotation, is the best way to prevent tomato problems. Companion plants for tomatoes, like basil, marigolds, and dill, attract beneficial insects and promote plant health.


Hands delicately grip a small magnifying glass, focused on examining a tiny worm crawling across the textured surface of a tomato leaf.
Early pest detection through regular scouting is crucial for minimizing damage.

Regular scouting to spot pests early is the best control against quick damage to tomatoes. Use organic and food-safe pest controls regarding food crops, and follow label instructions to avoid impacting healthy plants, flowers, and pollinators.

Tomato Hornworm

A close-up of a green tomato hornworm, showcasing its intricate markings as it navigates a leafy stem.
Control methods for hornworms on tomato plants include handpicking.

Hornworms are juicy green caterpillars that increase quickly due to their appetite for destruction. They’re just surviving, but they do quick damage in a short amount of time by stripping tomato plants of their leaves. 

Controls for hornworms include handpicking them off plants and relocating them far from your tomatoes. Biological controls like BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), parasitic wasps, and diatomaceous earth are methods to rid tomato plants of these caterpillars. Neem oil (or other horticultural oil) offers another treatment if your plants are in trouble.

If you’d like to reap the benefits of nocturnal pollination that the adult form of this caterpillar brings to your garden, simply relocate the worms to other nightshade plants. Allowing some black nightshade, horsenettle, and datura to grow around your yard will provide you with alternative host plants.

Flea Beetles

Flea beetles gather densely on a tomato leaf, illuminated by the warm rays of the sun.
Companion planting with catmints can repel insects from tomatoes.

Flea beetles are not fleas but small insects that hop from leaf to leaf, quickly skeletonizing foliage as they go. They are most active in the spring. Organic treatments include spinosad or pyrethrin sprays and horticultural oils like Neem.

Interplant tomatoes and other vegetable crops with plants to repel insects like catmints, basil, and marigolds. Coreopsis is a great native host plant for ladybugs, which feed on flea beetles.


A close-up of a tomato plant showcasing yellow flowers alongside tiny aphids crawling on the stems.
Manage pests like aphids by using water to dislodge them in the morning.

Aphids are common sap-sucking garden insects. They don’t often pose a severe threat to ‘Sun Gold’, but they can spread diseases among plants. They also leave behind a sticky honeydew that can lead to black, sooty mold. 

If you notice curled leaves, stunted growth, or signs of the insect, spray plants with a stream of water early in the day to knock them off the plants. A simple horticultural soap or Neem oil treats infestations.

Predatory insects feed on aphids, so planting pollen—and nectar-rich plants nearby benefits vegetable crops, increasing biodiversity and natural pest control.


An unhealthy tomato plant showing symptoms of disease, with brown leaves and blemished fruits.
Early removal of any severely stressed plants benefits your other crops.

Fortunately, this variety resists many diseases, especially fusarium wilt and tobacco mosaic virus.  As with pests, the best disease control is prevention through cultural conditions. Diseases spread quickly among tomatoes, so it’s best to catch them early and remove any plants in severe stress or decline.

Leaf Spot

A hand carefully examines a tomato leaf covered in small, dark spots, indicative of a plant disease.
Remove and discard affected plant parts to prevent the spread of leaf spot spores.

Septoria leaf spot is a fungal disease indicated by small brown spots between leaf veins. Leaves turn yellow and drop. Septoria leaf spot crops up after heavy rains and prolonged moisture and humidity periods. The disease spreads quickly; an outbreak can kill tomato plants at any growth stage.

Remove any plant parts affected by leaf spot. Avoid adding the clippings to the compost pile, as spores can spread.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are ‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes good for?

These tomatoes are exceptionally sweet, low-acid cherry types that are delicious straight from the vine. These tangerine-orange globes are also tasty when roasted, grilled, stewed, and in sauces. The culinary uses for these petite, juicy, flavorful cherry tomatoes are limitless.

Are ‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes easy to grow?

This variety is a vigorous grower and producer. It is relatively carefree to grow, especially with its improved resistance to common tomato diseases.

Do ‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes crack or split?

Ripe tomatoes may crack or split as the thin-walled fruits fill up with juice. Heavy rainfall, intense sun exposure, or damage from pests or birds contributes to the tender fruits’ splitting. If you notice the fruits cracking, harvest additional fruits a few days before fully ripe (they’ll show color but won’t be as tender) and let them ripen indoors. ‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes are ripe when golden and tender with a light squeeze.

Final Thoughts

These tomatoes are a gardener’s favorite for good reasons. Their cheery yellow fruits, delicious flavor, and ease of growth make them a top garden performer. 

Abundant, flavorful, and tender, ‘Sun Gold’ has among the best fruits of the cherry tomato bunch. If you can squeeze in one more indeterminate cherry tomato, add a little summer sunshine to the garden with this tasty variety. The all-season bounty is well worth it.

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