Determinate vs. Indeterminate Tomatoes

Determinate vs. Indeterminate Tomatoes

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Key Differences Between the Two Tomato Plants

On one hand, there’s no difference, they’re both tomato plants. On the other hand, they’re very different in how they grow, how they fruit, pruning needs, growing needs, and more. Essentially, determinate tomato plants grow in more of a bush form and the plant will fruit and ripen more or less all at one time, and then the plant dies. Indeterminate plants, however, grow as more of a vine with fruits developing throughout a long season if tended properly.

Determinate Tomato Plants

Determinate tomato plants can be quite useful on the homestead. Growing in a more compact bush shape, the fruits of determinate tomato plants often ripen at the same time, so they’re ideal for processing and canning tomatoes in large batches. These plants may be better suited for the novice gardener since they don’t require much pruning and, due to the plant’s controlled growth and shape, they can be easily incorporated into landscaping and flower beds.

They’re also a good fit for square foot, raised bed gardens, and other compact gardening styles as determinate tomato plants can be grown in a pot and typically only needs a common wire tomato cage to support the plant and fruit as it grows; in addition, these plants tend to have a shorter growing season, which will help relieve space for other plants later in the season.

  • Controlled, compact plant growth
  • Plant will fruit and ripen all at once, so it’s great for processing and canning tomatoes
  • Shorter growing season allows garden space to be used for other plants
  • Ideal for novice gardeners as these plants require little pruning
Common Determinate Tomato Varieties
  • Bush Beefsteak
  • Celebrity
  • Czech’s Bush
  • Hard Rock
  • Lady Finger
  • Pellicore
  • Roma
  • Taxi
  • Zebra Cherry

Indeterminate Tomato Plants

Indeterminate tomato plants also come with great benefits. Growing as a vine, the fruits of indeterminate tomato plants ripen throughout a long season, so you’ll almost always have fresh tomatoes on hand. These plants may be better suited for the experienced gardener and due to their growing style, require careful pruning, caging, and supporting throughout the season to optimize fruit production and keep the tomato plant healthy.

Indeterminate tomato plants can be planted in the early spring and can last until the first freeze or the cool weather finally sets in. With the ability for the plants to become large in size, they can easily produce enough fruit at one time to allow large batch tomato canning and processing.

  • Long growing season can provide fruit nearly year round depending on your hardiness zone
  • Large plant size can yield a large harvest and provide ample tomatoes at once for large batch canning
  • Plant is well suited for large-scale tomato production and large garden beds and can require a trellis, caging, and/or training the plant to climb
Common Indeterminate Tomato Varieties
  • Beefsteak
  • Big Red
  • Black Krim
  • Cherry Roma
  • Delicious
  • Jubilee
  • Napa Grape
  • Supersteak
  • Velvet Red
  • Many Cherry and Grape Varieties

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