How to Tell Determinate From Indeterminate Tomatoes

Determinate Tomatoes And Indeterminate Tomatoes: How To Spot The Difference?

If you struggle with differentiating between tomatoes varieties? This article would show you how to tell determinate from indeterminate tomatoes.

How would they taste? What is their maximum size? How would they look like? Are they determinate or indeterminate varieties?

If you read the last question and got a little confused, don’t worry, you are not alone! Because, in this article, we will help give you a thorough understanding of determinate or indeterminate tomato varieties.

So, let’s get started!

What Are Determinate Tomatoes?

Determinate tomatoes are those plants that grow up to a certain size and stop growing once they have reached it. The plant stops the growth when it starts setting tomato fruits. These varieties of tomato plants are not very tall.

Because they are smaller in size, you can easily fit them in with the rest of your plants in your garden or backyard. Moreover, if you would like to grow these in your kitchen, you can even grow them inside small containers.

Additionally, when the fruits start to develop on the plant, they all ripen together all at once. The tomatoes of the determinate variety are smaller in size when compared to the indeterminate variety.

However, a few gardeners look at this growing pattern as a major disadvantage, especially if they are looking to enjoy the taste of fresh, ripe tomatoes all through the summer. However, determinate tomatoes have a shorter growing season, which means the fruit also ripens faster.

So, if you are looking to grow tomatoes within a short period, you can opt to purchase the determinate variety.

How Big Do They Get?

When you grow determinate tomatoes, you can expect them to grow to e around 2 ft to 4 ft tall. There are a few determinate tomatoes that grow to be a little taller than this size. However, they still manage to retain their compact size.

These varieties might not grow to be as tall as the indeterminate tomatoes. But they still require some support to grow properly. Moreover, they might even topple over with the weight of the tomato fruit.

In this case, it is best recommended to use a plant stake or tomato cage to hold the plant in place. That is sufficient to keep them standing tall and keep up with the weight of the plant.

Varieties Of Determinate Tomatoes

If you are not sure which varieties of tomatoes are the determinate kind, take a look at our list below!

  • Glacier Bush
  • Italian Roma
  • Early Girl Bush
  • Red Pride
  • Super Bush

What Are Indeterminate Tomatoes?

Unlike the previous variety, where the plant stops its growth after reaching a certain height, the indeterminate tomatoes carry on with their growth without a halt. In short, they do not have a set size for their growth.

Therefore, these tomato plants can get extremely tall and have long branches. However, if properly controlled to grow on a vertical support, they can look quite appealing.

However, these plants can quickly go from being your plant friends to plant monsters. In order to avoid this, heavy pruning is a must!

Since these varieties grow bigger in size, they also produce bigger fruit. The fruit will also be bigger and heavier than the determinate varieties. However, they take a longer time to start producing. But once they start the process, it will continue even through the frosty season.

Since these fruits are larger, they also take more time to ripen.

This variety of indeterminate tomatoes is best suited to grow in larger spaces. So, if you have a large garden plot, you can opt to plant indeterminate tomatoes instead!

How Big Do They Get?

The size of the indeterminate tomatoes is not known clearly as each plant differs in its size. However, one thing is for sure. The varieties can reach shockingly staggering heights.

In fact, most plants of the indeterminate varieties can grow up to be 6 ft to 8 ft tall! Therefore, it is natural that they have long branches best maintained with the support of stalks.

Additionally, you can also use sturdy tomato cages or another vertical support system like a trellis or an A-frame.

Varieties Of Indeterminate Tomatoes

If you are considering opting for indeterminate tomatoes, you will be delighted to know that there are a lot of options to choose from. That is because most tomato plants happen to fall under the indeterminate category.

Here is a list of a few indeterminate tomatoes that you can choose from.

  • Beefsteak
  • Big Boy
  • Red Cherry
  • Sweet 100
  • Brandywine
  • Early Girl
  • Cherokee Purple

Determinate vs. Indeterminate: What Is The Difference?

Now that you know what these two varieties are all about let us enlighten you with the difference between the two and how you can tell them apart.

The words of these varieties might sound very complicated at first, especially if you are a beginner plant parent. However, the meanings of these words are very simple.

Determinate Tomatoes: This variety has a “determined” size, and they do not grow beyond this.

Indeterminate Tomatoes: They do not have a set size, and they are “undetermined.” Therefore, they grow without restrictions.

What Are The Differences Between Determinate And Indeterminate Varieties?

The only major differences between these two types are:

  • Determinate tomatoes produce small fruit shaped like a bush that grows to a certain extent. This variety produces tomato fruit in one go
  • Indeterminate tomatoes produce larger-sized fruits, and the plants grow taller with long arms. These varieties can produce fruit all through the season

How to tell determinate from indeterminate tomatoes? When it comes to identifying these varieties and telling them apart from each other, you cannot do it by a glance.

The best way to tell them apart is by checking the labels, seed packets, or tags when you are out browsing through the nursery,

However, once the plant starts to mature, you can start to identify which is which. The obvious difference between the two varieties is size. However, there is also another sign to tell them apart.

Determinate plants will only produce fruits on the end of the branches. However, with indeterminate plants, the fruits grow everywhere on the stem.

Which is the Best Choice for You?

While both these varieties might seem easy to grow, there are few factors you need to consider before you purchase them.

Determinate Tomatoes

Choose this variety if you have:

Indeterminate Tomatoes

You can opt for this variety if you have:

  • A large garden space
  • To grow them in a vertical direction
  • To use the fruit for a long time

However, if you would like to try them both, you can. This way, you can relish the taste of both these varieties during the summer!

Wrapping Up

As a beginner plant parent/gardener, the words “determinate” and “indeterminate” might seem foreign. However, these are both very simple varieties of tomato plants, and you can easily understand the difference between both.

In terms of identification, like a seed or a young plant, you cannot tell the difference as they look the same. However, as they start to grow, you can spot the differences, the most obvious reason being the size.

Just remember; if the plant stops growing at 4 ft, it is most likely a determinate variety. If it grows beyond 6 ft, it is definitely an indeterminate variety, and that is how to tell determinate from indeterminate tomatoes.

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