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What is an F1 tomato hybrid?

If you have been studying the tomato seeds packs in your local gardening centre you will have noticed that a lot of the tomato seeds are F1 hybrids. What does this mean? What is an F1 hybrid tomato? Let’s have a look and find out.

What is an F1 tomato hybrid
What is an F1 tomato hybrid?

F1 Hybrids

This just means the plant is a hybrid of two parent varieties of tomato. They have been purposely bred to give specific characteristics. The F1 comes from Filial 1 or Child 1 in simple English.

Why do we have F1 hybrids?

The simple answer is that it gives us tomatoes that have multiple outstanding characteristics. If you can mix a great tasting tomato with another tomato that has proven blight resistance now you have a blight resistant great tasting tomato.

This is a very simple answer but it really shows the fundamentals behind F1 hybrid tomatoes and why they are so common.

Drawbacks of F1 Hybrid Tomatoes

The first thing you will notice about F1 seeds is that they tend to be more expensive. This makes sense as they take a lot more effort to produce than regular tomato seeds.

This is because these tomatoes will not produce seeds that make more of the same plant. So each has to be specifically bred from the parent stock.

This also means you cannot keep the seed from your tomatoes and grow another batch of the same plant. Like children in a family, some of your seed grown plants will take more after the father, some more after the mother, what they will never be is a copy of the parent plant.

Because of this if you are growing F1 Hybrids you will have to buy more seeds from the supplier whenever you have exhausted your supply. If you are growing heirloom or non-hybrid varieties then you can grow them from seed as long as you avoid cross-pollination.

Heirloom Varieties

These are traditional varieties from a single type. They are able to be grown from seeds taken from your plants, as long as you just grow one type in your greenhouse and therefore avoid cross pollination.

Many growers swear that heirloom tomatoes taste better than F1 hybrids but you will have to grow them yourself and compare/contrast the differences to find out.

They are usually harder to grow and often produce smaller crops than F1 hybrid tomatoes.