A dependable, productive classic tomato that has been around for over 40 years.

Fruit type: classic


Solanum lycopersicum

Hybrid. A dependable salad tomato whose fruit turn red when ripe. Though it’s a geriatric hybrid of advanced years, Shirley hasn’t let age affect its performance. Grown in Britain since at least 1978, the Royal Horticultural Society first gave it an Award of Garden Merit in 1993 – and it has managed to maintain this status ever since.  

More recently, Shirley was a “top producer” in a 2019 Which? Gardening trial of 20 tomato varieties, making it a good choice for gardeners when yield is a priority.

Indeterminate (cordon) growth habit

Approximate number of seeds per pack: 12

RHS Award of Garden Merit


Additional information

Interesting factoids

• An early reference to Shirley tomato can be found in the 1988 report, Classified List of Vegetable Varieties, Selections and Synonyms, 1989. Published by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB). It described the vegetable varieties tested in both field trials carried out by NIAB as well as glasshouse trials conducted by ADAS (Agricultural Development and Advisory Service).
Shirley, an F1 hybrid, was one of the tomatoes included in the publication. Plants were tested in both heated and unheated greenhouses, where the growth habit was described as ‘tall’.  Trials on Shirley were conducted from 1978 to 1985, which means it’s over 40 years old.

• In 1983, ADAS published the booklet Growing Tomatoes, A Greenhouse Guide. Targeting the professional grower. It lists Shirley as one of the varieties to grow.

• Seeds of Shirley have been available to amateurs for decades. Around 1987, NIAB put out a booklet titled Vegetable Varieties for the Gardener.  Shirley was one of the recommended tomatoes for the glasshouse, and at the time, seeds could be purchased from at least five companies catering to amateur growers.

• The results of the 2019 Which trial of salad tomatoes were reported in Which? Gardening magazine, March, 2020, pages 14 to 18.