Indeterminate or Determinate Tomatoes

Have you ever heard of determinate or indeterminate to describe a tomato?  Usually this term is used for crops where the fruit is the edible part of the plant.  This includes tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, and cucumbers.

Determinate Tomatoes:

These tomatoes grow to a certain height then bear their fruit during a short period of time. Their characteristics are compact, stocky, upright and have more densely-packed leaves.  They grow up to about 4 feet. Some determinate tomato varieties are Small Fry, Cherry Grande, Koralik, Elfin, Patio, and Better Bush.

Indeterminate Tomatoes:

These tomatoes will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost. They can grow up to 12 feet. They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit at the same time during the season and require a good amount of staking for support. Characteristics of these plants are taller, leggier and the foliage is more sparse.  Indeterminate varieties include Beefsteak, Big Boy, Brandywine, Sungold, and Sweet Million.

Your seed packet or seed catalog should tell you if they are determinate or indeterminate.  If you do not have these at hand, you can check online or talk to someone at your local gardening center.


3 thoughts on “Indeterminate or Determinate Tomatoes

  1. I once gave a presentation at the University of Illinois Specialty Crops conference. During the book signing afterwards, a gentleman said to me, “I always grow the degenerate tomatoes, but I’ve been thinking about growing the independent ones.” Since I’m not a tomato lover, I always chuckle at the thought “degenerate” was apt.

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