Determinate Vs. Indeterminate Tomatoes: What’s The Distinction?

As you seek for the proper tomato selection, you’ve most likely come throughout the phrases determinate and indeterminate. However have you learnt the variations between these two tomato progress habits? And have you learnt which one is greatest in your backyard?

When it comes time to decide on tomato vegetation in your backyard, you’ve got many choices. From large beefsteak tomatoes good for BLTs to candy-sweet cherry tomatoes, there’s a tomato for everybody. However you must take note of extra than simply the fruit dimension and colour.

I’ll cowl the variations between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes so you possibly can select the best choice.

The Quick Reply

The phrases indeterminate and determinate relate to a tomato plant’s progress behavior. Indeterminate tomatoes proceed rising till they die, producing new flowers and fruits alongside the way in which. Determinate tomatoes develop till they attain their most top and sometimes produce all their fruit inside just a few weeks.

The Lengthy Reply

A bunch of vivid crimson tomatoes dangles from a vine, their flesh firm and glossy. Dark green foliage surrounding the fruit creates a striking contrast. The flesh of the tomatoes looks juicy and flavorful, and they are perfectly ripe.
Go for indeterminate varieties for vigorous, steady progress and determinate varieties for compact kind.

The large distinction between indeterminate and determinate tomatoes is how they develop. This distinction impacts harvest, staking, pruning, and extra! Studying in regards to the variations between these two teams will aid you select one which meets your targets and suits in your backyard.

Plant Development

A greenhouse filled with lush green tomato plants. They are neatly arranged in rows, and their vines are tied to strings to support their weight. The leaves are a deep green color, and the plants are covered in small green buds.
Determinate varieties attain a hard and fast dimension, whereas indeterminate can develop over 10 toes.

As I discussed above, determinate tomatoes develop till they attain a sure dimension, and indeterminate tomatoes proceed to develop till they’re killed by frost, illness, or one other issue.

I’ve grown a number of types of each varieties, and imagine me once I say there’s a giant distinction in dimension. Determinate tomatoes sometimes max out at about three to 4 toes tall, so you possibly can simply include them utilizing wire tomato cages or trellis them with wood stakes and cord. Indeterminate tomatoes can simply develop over ten toes tall, so that you want a extra in depth trellising system to maintain them contained.

I repeatedly develop indeterminate tomatoes in excessive tunnels and trellis them utilizing a decrease and lean technique. The tomato vines attain the highest of the trellis wire, eight to 10 toes tall, by mid-summer. At this level, it’s time to lean the tomato vegetation down the size of the tunnel to allow them to proceed rising. I’ve seen indeterminate tomatoes develop over 30 toes lengthy by fall!

This lengthy size means indeterminate tomatoes aren’t the perfect for containers or small gardens. Nevertheless, indeterminates are rewarding to develop when you don’t thoughts additional work trellising your vegetation.

Fruit Set

A close-up of a tomato cluster on a vine. Some of the tomatoes are red, while others are still green, depending on their level of ripeness. A few leaves and stems can be seen in the background, and the bottom of the picture shows the healthy soil.
Determinate tomatoes have a concentrated harvest, which is right for preserving.

The completely different progress habits additionally create variations in how these vegetation produce flowers and fruit. Indeterminate tomatoes produce new flowers and fruit as they develop, resulting in an extended harvest window. Determinate tomatoes set all their fruit in just a few weeks.

Indeterminates are an excellent possibility for having fun with tomatoes all summer season. Every plant will present a weekly handful of cherry tomatoes or just a few slicing tomatoes for sandwiches. Nevertheless, don’t anticipate a single, record-breaking harvest.

Since determinates produce all their fruit in just a few weeks, they’re an excellent selection if you wish to protect your harvest. Every wholesome plant produces round ten kilos of fruit in just a few weeks, which lets you make salsa for canning or tomato sauce for freezing.


A vibrant field of tomato plants, supported by a sturdy trellis of wooden sticks. The unripe tomatoes, still basking in an emerald green hue, hang like jewels from the lush foliage, promising an abundance of summer's bounty.
Trellising strategies range, with determinates favoring cages and indeterminates secured to cattle panels.

As I discussed above, determinate and indeterminate tomatoes require completely different varieties of trellising. Determinate tomatoes are simpler to trellis, and a few don’t require a trellis in any respect. Indeterminate tomatoes turn out to be unruly and messy when you don’t trellis them, and wrangling them right into a neat kind requires a bit extra work.

Since determinate tomatoes stay underneath 4 toes tall, you possibly can simply include and help them with a wire tomato cage. Another choice is to put three or 4 wood stakes about eight inches away from the bottom of your plant. Prepare three stakes in a triangle and 4 stakes in a sq.. Because the plant grows, wrap twine across the stakes to field within the progress and supply help.

Though you should utilize tomato cages to help indeterminate tomatoes, the vegetation will finally outgrow the cage and cascade excessive. Higher trellis choices embrace a cattle panel or the stake and weave technique. Utilizing a cattle panel, you possibly can connect the vine to the panel with twine or plastic trellising clips.

You need to use the stake and weave technique to trellis two vegetation in a backyard or a whole lot of vegetation in a discipline. I’ve used it on numerous farms and in neighborhood backyard plots. Nevertheless, it’s greatest for tomatoes planted in a row.

  1. Insert steel t-posts or wood stakes on either side of your tomato plant, about six inches away from the stem. The posts must be no less than six toes tall, however eight toes is preferable. In case you are rising a row of vegetation, place a stake each three vegetation.
  2. Use a mallet or post-pounder to drive the stakes six to eight inches into the bottom.
  3. When the vegetation are a foot tall, it’s time to trellis. Tie a bit of tomato twine on one stake, run it alongside the aspect of the tomato vegetation to the opposite stake, pull taught, and tie. The twine must be about eight inches above the bottom. Full this step on the opposite aspect of the plant. Once you’re completed, the tomato plant ought to sit between two items of twine.
  4. When the vegetation have grown a few foot above the primary line of twine, add one other piece of twine eight to 10 inches above the unique.
  5. Repeat this course of as your plant grows till the twine reaches the highest of the stakes. The vines will path excessive of the twine, however that’s okay.


A close-up of a pair of hands pruning a tomato plant. The left hand holds the cut stem, while the right hand holds the shears. Ready to make another cut, the shears are positioned just above the cut stem.
Whether or not you prune or not, each varieties can thrive and produce fruit.

In the event you don’t wish to prune your tomato vegetation, that’s high-quality! Each determinate and indeterminate tomato vegetation will develop and produce fruit with none. Nevertheless, pruning indeterminate vegetation helps preserve them tidy, improves airflow, and makes harvesting simpler.

The quantity you prune depends upon your trellising technique and private preferences. Pruning usually includes utilizing shears to take away suckers, that are the shoots that seem on the elbows that happen between the primary stem and leaves. Eradicating these suckers limits the dimensions of the plant, which implies that it additionally limits potential fruit manufacturing. Nevertheless, it additionally permits vegetation to place their vitality into the remaining flowers and fruits, which regularly results in bigger fruit clusters and tomatoes.

Some folks will prime their tomato vegetation once they hit the utmost top they need them to succeed in. This course of is straightforward: minimize off any extra progress above your decided top. An indeterminate plant will nonetheless be capable of produce on the decrease portion of the plant, and it could begin attempting to supply a brand new “chief” or major stalk from one of many decrease branches, however this received’t damage it.

Even when you don’t wish to take away suckers out of your indeterminate tomato vegetation, I like to recommend that you simply prune off decrease leaves. Eradicating leaves inside a foot of the bottom discourages the event of tomato illnesses like early blight and septoria leaf spot.

On the subject of determinate tomatoes, you don’t must prune. They may stay manageable with out pruning, and eradicating suckers results in smaller harvests. Nevertheless, you possibly can nonetheless take away any leaves that contact the soil.

With determinates, it’s greatest to not prime them. They hit a most top and cease rising vertically. Most of their extra progress is outwards at that time, however they’re principally set on dimension and common kind.


A close-up of a small wicker basket filled with a variety of ripe tomatoes in different colors and sizes. They are all perfectly round and smooth, with their skins glistening in the natural light. The colors are vibrant and eye-catching, with dark red, orange, yellow, and green tomatoes all mixed together.
Each determinate and indeterminate varieties produce slicer, beefsteak, plum, and cherry varieties.

All varieties of tomatoes could be determinate or indeterminate. You will discover determinate or indeterminate slicers, beefsteak, plum, and cherry tomatoes. So don’t assume that every one Roma-type tomatoes are determinate or all heirloom beefsteaks are indeterminate.

Some in style indeterminate varieties embrace ‘Inexperienced Zebra, ‘Solar Gold,’ and ‘Cherokee Purple.’

Determinate varieties embrace ‘Italian Roma’ and ‘Mountain Benefit.’

Closing Ideas

Each determinate and indeterminate tomatoes have a spot within the backyard, however their variations imply it’s possible you’ll get pleasure from one sort over the opposite. A determinate selection is greatest if in case you have a small backyard or wish to protect your harvest. And when you don’t thoughts trellising or desire a continuous provide of tomatoes all season lengthy, strive an indeterminate selection.

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