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Did you know that tomatoes are grouped into determinant and indeterminant tomatoes based on their growth habits and fruit production? It’s easy to be confused and mix these two types of tomatoes up when you’re not familiar with the differences.
If you are planning to grow your own tomatoes, it’s crucial to understand the difference between the two types before planting. This article discusses determinate vs indeterminate tomatoes so you can choose the right type for your garden and plan for their care and maintenance. Let’s get started.
Determinate tomatoes, also known as bush tomatoes, are compact plants that grow to a certain height and then stop. They typically reach a height of 3-4 feet and produce a single, large crop of fruit all at once. This makes them well-suited for gardeners who want to harvest their tomatoes all at once.
They are also well suited for small gardens and container growing and are typically more resistant to disease and pests.
Determinate tomatoes are great for canning, sauces, jams, and preserving mainly because they ripen all at once.
What to Consider When Growing Determinant Tomatoes
- Space: Determinate tomatoes don’t require as much space as they have a more compact growth habit. They can be grown in smaller areas such as in pots, raised beds or small gardens.
- Staking: They don’t require staking or caging, as they have a more compact growth habit, and their fruit ripens all at once.
- Pruning: Determinate tomatoes don’t need to be pruned, as they stop growing and setting fruit at a certain point.
- Watering: They need consistent watering throughout the growing season, but less frequent watering than indeterminate varieties.
- Fertilizing: They need regular fertilizing, especially during the fruiting stage, with a balanced fertilizer or one high in potassium to promote fruit development.
- Disease and Pest Management: They are generally less disease-resistant than indeterminate varieties, so it’s important to keep an eye out for common tomato pests and diseases and act as needed.
- Climate: Determinate tomatoes are best suited for growing in climates with a longer growing season, although some early maturing varieties are available for shorter season climates.
- Harvesting: They typically ripen all at once, so they are ideal for preserving, canning, or freezing. Have a plan in place for the harvest or you can get caught out with a lot of tomatoes.
Here are 8 popular types of determinate tomatoes:
- Early Girl
- Tiny Tim
- Bush Goliath
- Plum Regal
- Red Robin
Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, are also known as vining tomatoes. They continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the growing season. They can reach up to 6-8 feet tall and require staking or trellising to support the weight of the fruit.
They’re well suited for fresh eating and larger gardens and for those who want a continuous supply of ripe tomatoes over an extended period.
What to Consider When Growing Indeterminant Tomatoes
- Space: Indeterminate tomatoes require more space than determinate varieties, as they continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the season. They need to be staked or caged for support and to keep them upright.
- Pruning: Indeterminate tomatoes need to be pruned regularly to maintain their shape, to promote good air circulation, and to prevent disease. The goal is to remove the suckers (the shoots that grow just below the branches), and to leave one or two main stems to grow.
- Watering: They require consistent watering throughout the growing season, but more frequent watering than determinate varieties, especially during hot weather.
- Fertilizing: Indeterminate tomatoes need regular fertilizing, especially during the fruiting stage, with a balanced fertilizer or one high in potassium to promote fruit development.
- Disease and Pest Management: They’re generally more disease-resistant than determinate varieties, but still need to be monitored for common tomato pests and diseases and act as needed.
- Climate: Indeterminate tomatoes are suitable for growing in a wide range of climates, but they require a longer growing season.
- Harvesting: They typically produce fruit over a longer period, so they’re ideal for fresh eating, salads, sandwiches, and other uses.
- Training: They can be trained to grow up, making them suitable for greenhouse production or to grow sideways to make them suitable for container gardening.
Here are 8 popular types of indeterminate tomatoes:
- Big Boy
- Cherokee Purple
- Green Zebra
- Mortgage Lifter
- San Marzano
- Yellow Pear
Trellising and Pruning Needs
When it comes to trellising and pruning, determinate tomatoes do not require as much support or pruning as indeterminate tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes can be grown without staking, and only require minimal pruning to remove any dead or diseased leaves.
Indeterminate tomatoes, however, require support in the form of a trellis or stake and regular pruning to control the growth and encourage fruit production.
Determinant And Indeterminant Tomatoes – Pros and Cons
|Produce a large, single crop all at once, which makes them well suited for canning, preserving, and other forms of food processing.||Because they ripen all at once, this can make it difficult to manage the harvest.|
|Are relatively low maintenance, they require less pruning, and staking compared to indeterminate tomatoes, and are more resistant to disease and pests.||Tend to produce a smaller yield than indeterminate varieties.|
|Are more compact and don’t require as much space as indeterminate tomatoes, which makes them well suited for small gardens and container growing.||Generally, not as disease resistant as indeterminate varieties.|
|Typically have a shorter growing season, which means you can enjoy the fruits of your labor earlier than with indeterminate tomatoes.||Usually smaller and less flavorful than indeterminate tomatoes.|
|A great option for beginners, as they’re easy to care for and produce a large, reliable crop.||They’re also not as tolerant to different growing conditions as indeterminate varieties.|
|Perfect for container gardening because they are smaller, and don’t require as much space.||Not suitable for growing in greenhouse, as they don’t vine and can’t be trained to grow up.|
|Great for small gardens, as they don’t spread out as much and can be grown in a limited space.|
|Better suited for hot climates than indeterminate tomatoes, as they are less likely to be affected by heat stress.|
|Good for short growing seasons, as they mature early and require less time to grow.|
|They have a longer growing season, which allows for a larger yield over time.||Require more space and staking or caging for support as they continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the season.|
|Typically produce fruit over a longer period, rather than all at once like determinate varieties.||Need more consistent and frequent pruning to maintain their shape and to prevent disease.|
|Generally, more disease-resistant than determinate varieties.||They may be more susceptible to certain pests and diseases that affect tomatoes, such as tomato hornworms and late blight.|
|They tend to be larger and more flavorful than determinate tomatoes.||They produce fruit continuously, which may be a disadvantage if you want to stagger your harvest or if you want to store tomatoes for a longer period.|
|Are more tolerant of different growing conditions, such as hot or cold weather.||Often require a longer growing season and may not be suitable for growers in short season climates.|
|Suitable for growing in greenhouses, as they vine and can be trained to grow up.||They’re not recommended for container gardening as they need a lot of room to grow.|
|These tomatoes are great for canning, freezing, and making sauces, as they have a good balance between acidity and sweetness.||More prone to cracking or splitting if they receive heavy rainfall during the ripening process.|
Determinate and indeterminate tomatoes are two distinct types of tomato plants that differ in their growth habits, fruit production, and maintenance requirements. Gardeners must choose which type is best for their situation.
Determinate tomatoes are more suited for small gardens, container growing and preserving, while indeterminate tomatoes are more suited for larger gardens and fresh eating. Both types have their unique set of pros and cons, so it all comes down to personal preference.
Now that you are well versed in determinant vs indeterminant tomatoes, you can go ahead and select the best type for your gardening needs.