Heirlooms vs. Hybrids: What are the Tomatoes Difference?

There are those who swear that heirlooms are the only way to go because they think hybrids plants are inferior.

On the other hand, hybrid fans are convinced they are a better all-around choice because they tend to be more vigorous producers and are less susceptible to disease and pests.

To better understand the distinction between heirloom and hybrid plant varieties, it helps to look at how they came to be.


Cross-pollination (in the context of open-pollination) occurs when two varieties of the same plant species reproduce due to natural pollinators, such as wind, birds or insects.


Self-pollination occurs when a plant possesses both male and female parts and can reproduce by itself. The term “heirloom” refers to older, well-established varieties of open-pollinated plants.


Hybrid plants, on the other hand, are the result of highly controlled cross-pollination between different varieties of the same species of plants.


Heirlooms are often treasured for their delicious flavor, while many hybrids are prized for their vigor, high yields, and superior disease resistance.  The biggest difference between the two is this: Heirloom varieties grow true from seeds.