Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes - What is the Difference?

Determinate Tomatoes

picture of the determinate tomatoes

Picture 1. Determinate tomatoes are frequently called "bush", because of their compact form. They stop growing after reaching their typical size, usually about 4 - 5 feet. All fruits ripen in a short time period of about 2 weeks. Afterwards plant starts to wither. They are shorter than indeterminate varieties.

Staking or caging is recommended, as the fruits on the plant can be quite heavy. Some gardeners achieved positive results with pruning indeterminate varieties, but I can't recommend it - pruned plants yielded smaller harvest. Choose determinate tomatoes if you want a lot of fruits at once; perfect if you plan to can them for winter, make a soup or sauce. This varieties grow well in containers.

Indeterminate Tomatoes

picture of the indeterminate tomatoes

Picture 2. Indeterminate tomatoes are often called "vining", because they develop long vines. They keep growing through all the season and can reach the height of 8-10 feet! Fruits grow and ripen through all the season until the frost kills them.

You have to stake or cage the plants as they grow long and heavy. The tall trellis (as on the photo) is the best choice.

Pruning helps to control plant growth and improves size of the fruits. These varieties are great if you want to harvest fresh fruits for a long part of the season.

You should have enough space in your garden to accommodate the growth. They are too large to grow them easily in the containers, although it's possible.

Semi-determinate Tomatoes

This type of tomato plants has the habits and traits in between both main groups described above.

Both determinate and indeterminate types of tomatoes can be an excellent choice for your vegetable garden. Select the variety that has the traits you desire from the wide offer of both heirloom plants and cultivars. Find out which ones are most suitable for the climate in your area

Photo credits:
Picture 1. Thomas Bresson, "Tomatoes / Tomates", CC BY.
Picture 2. Ben Ostrowsky, "Tomatoes hanging overhead", CC BY.