How to Grow and Care for Sungold Tomatoes

Sungold tomatoes in blue crates

Getty Images / Molly Watson

If you love a low-acid, sweet tomato, then Sungold is a perfect choice. A golden yellow cherry tomato, Sungold, Lycopersicon esculentum 'Sungold', is a hybrid indeterminate tomato that matures in 55 to 65 days and produces fruit in clusters throughout the growing season. You'll need stakes or cages because the vines can grow up to 10 feet.

While the fruit is delicious, the vines and leaves are toxic to humans and pets if consumed.

 Common Name  Sungold, Sun Gold
 Botanical Name  Lycopersicon esculentum 'Sungold'
 Family Solanaceae
 Plant Type  Annual
 Size  6-10 feet
 Sun Exposure  Full sun
 Soil Type  Loamy, well-drained
 Soil pH  Acidic (6.0 to 6.8)
Bloom Time Summer
 Hardiness Zones  2a–11b (USDA)
 Native Area Japan
Toxicity Plant is toxic to humans and pets, fruit is non-toxic

How to Plant Sungold Tomatoes

When to Plant

Sungold tomatoes should be planted in the spring after all threat of frost has passed. If you are starting plants from seed, they should be started indoors about four weeks before your area's last projected frost date and then planted outside when the seedlings are at least 6 inches tall.

Selecting a Planting Site

Sungold tomatoes require a site with full sun and loamy, nutrient-rich soil with good drainage. If planting in a garden, practice crop rotation to prevent disease spread and nutrient depletion of the soil from last year's crops. Sungold tomatoes can also thrive in containers placed in a sunny spot.


Do not plant tomatoes where other members of the nightshade family (potatoes, eggplants, and peppers) were grown the year before.

Spacing, Depth, and Support

Sungold tomatoes produce long vines and clusters of fruit. To control them and keep the fruit off the ground. they need a support structure for the vines, such as a tomato cage. Plants should be spaced at least four feet apart in the garden to ensure good air circulation and room for the support structure.

Seedlings should be planted in a hole about twice the size of their root ball and placed into the ground at the same level as it grew in their container. If the seedling was grown in a peat pot, be sure the entire pot is buried below the soil surface because an exposed peat pot will wick moisture from the soil.

Sungold Tomato Plant Care


Sungold tomatoes need full sun for at least six to eight hours per day. Less light will result in slower growth and less fruit.


Slightly acidic, 6.0-6.8 pH, soil in the garden will help Sungold tomatoes thrive and bear lots of fruit. The soil should be well-drained, loamy, and nutrient-rich. A soil test is the best way to determine the nutrient level in your soil and its pH. If growing Sungold tomatoes in containers, use organic potting soil not soil dug directly from the garden. It is too heavy for container-grown plants.


All tomatoes must be watered deeply and regularly, especially those planted in containers. Provide 1-1 1/2 inches of water per week. Poke your finger into the soil and if it is dry at 2 inches deep, provide water. The soil should not be allowed to dry out because keeping the soil evenly moist helps prevent blossom end rot. Water at the root level to prevent the spread of tomato diseases. Do not overwater to prevent root rot and splitting tomatoes. Add mulch once plants are established to help the soil retain moisture.

Temperature and Humidity

For optimum growth, do not plant Sungold tomatoes until the soil temperature has reached at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Harden off seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions before planting them in the garden.

Humidity isn't an issue for tomatoes unless it is excessive. Too much humid weather leaves foliage wet for extended periods and creates a climate for fungal diseases.


Unless a soil test has other recommendations, prepare garden soil by working in 2-3 pounds per 100 square feet of a complete fertilizer (10-10-10 NPK). A high-nitrogen fertilizer is not recommended; it can result in luxuriant foliage but delayed flowering and fruiting. Give new plants a head start by using a diluted liquid starter fertilizer that is high in phosphorus for strong root development. 

For container-grown Sungolds, fertilize regularly, at least once a month. Use a water-soluble application at half-strength to provide a constant source of nutrients for the tomato plants.


Sungold tomatoes will self-pollinate and attract bees and other pollinators to the garden.

Types of Sungold Tomatoes

Sungold tomatoes are a F1 hybrid meaning it has two different tomato plant varieties for parents. They were developed by pollinating one variety with the other variety's pollen. The hybrid was developed by Japanese breeder Tokita Seed Company and introduced to gardeners in 1992.

A similar tomato is SunSugar. The fruits are golden yellow, sweeter, and with a slightly thicker skin that is less prone to cracking.

A high angle close up shot of a bluish bowl overflowing with freshly harvested sungold yellow cherry tomatoes. Shot on a grungy old outdoors table.

Debbie Smirnoff / Getty Images

Harvesting Sungold Tomatoes

Although Sungold tomatoes grow in clusters of 10-20 fruit, it is best to harvest each cherry tomato separately. If picked while they are bright yellow, the fruit will be firm and tart. If allowed to ripen to a deep golden color, they will be soft, sweet, and easy to remove from the vine. Remember, Sungolds never turn red, no matter how long they stay on the vine.

If cared for correctly, the plant will continue to produce fruit until the first frost in the fall.

How to Grow Sungold Tomatoes in Pots

If you don't have space for a garden, Sungold tomatoes can be easily grown in pots. Choose a large pot - around a 5-gallon size - with good drainage holes. Add a trellis or tomato cage while the seedlings are young to provide support for the vines. Use good potting soil and water regularly (one to two gallons of water per day) because the container will dry out quickly.

Pruning Sungold Tomatoes

Regular pruning helps Sungold tomatoes produce more fruit than foliage. Use garden snips to remove suckers, or small stems, growing from the main stem next to a leaf cluster. These suckers tend to produce foliage but not fruit. Without them, the plant will be able to focus its growing energy on the fruit-bearing stems. Prune any stems touching the ground to prevent disease.

Propagating Sungold Tomatoes

You can clone Sungold tomatoes from cuttings. Once the parent plant is healthy and actively growing follow these steps:

  1. Find a 6- to 8-inch sucker coming off the main stem with no buds or flowers on it and remove it.
  2. Strip the leaves on the lower half of the cutting.
  3. Plant the cutting in a small container with moistened soilless potting mix.
  4. Place the container in bright, indirect sunlight. Keep the growing medium moist but not soggy. Roots should develop in a week or two.
  5. If you feel resistance when you gently tug on the cutting, you’ll know it has roots. It can then be transplanted into the garden. 

How to Grow Sungold Tomatoes from Seed

About six weeks before the last predicted frost, start your Sungold tomato seeds indoors.

  1. Fill trays with seed starting medium and moisten the medium until it is damp but not soaked.
  2. With a pointed stick, make a hole about 1/8th of an inch deep and place one seed in each one of the seed tray's cells.
  3. Place the tray on top of the heating mat in front of a sunny window and cover the tray.
  4. Check daily to ensure the soil remains moist, misting with a spray bottle as needed.
  5. The seeds should germinate in 5-10 days.
  6. Keep covered until the plants touch the cover, at which point remove the cover.
  7. When plants are around 5-6 inches tall, transplant them into individual pots and continue to water until transplanted.
  8. When outdoor temperatures reach a steady 50° Fahrenheit at night, you can take the plants outdoors to allow them to harden up before planting.
  9. After 10 days, you can transplant the Sungold tomato plants into the garden.

Potting and Repotting

Other than transferring seedlings to the garden or a large container, Sungold tomatoes should not be repotted once they are established.


Sungold tomatoes are annuals that complete their life cycle in one growing season and do not overwinter. Harvest the last tomatoes before the first frost and discard vines from the garden after the frost has fallen.

Common Pest and Plant Diseases

Sungold tomatoes are resistant to Verticillium wilt (V), fusarium (F), and tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). However, they can be affected and are subject to pests like tomato hornworms. Help prevent problems by providing ample growing space, using a support structure to keep them off the ground, and watering at the roots only.

  • Are Sungold tomatoes easy to grow?

    Because they are resistant to many tomato diseases, Sungold tomatoes are easy to grow by planting in full sun and providing adequate water.

  • How long does it take to grow Sungold tomatoes?

    Sungold tomatoes produce fruit quickly in 55 to 65 days. The plant will continue to bloom and produce fruit until the first frost.

  • Do Sungold tomatoes come back every year?

    No, Sungold tomatoes are an annual and do not overwinter. Start seeds about six weeks before the last frost is predicted or purchase seedlings.

Article Sources
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  1. Plant Profile: Sungold Tomato. University of California

  2. Commercial Tomato Production Handbook. UGA Cooperative Extension

  3. “Tomato Plant.” ASPCA