Tomatoes can be distinguished by two main growth types and are categorized into determinate and indeterminate tomatoes.
There are also several different tomato types such as: standard, oxheart, Roma, beefsteak, sauce, plum, grape, and many more according to Rutgers University.
What Are Indeterminate Tomatoes?
One of the most basic types of tomatoes is indeterminate tomatoes, also known as vine tomatoes and cordon tomatoes. They grow and produce fruit continuously throughout the summer until the first frost arrives. Since they grow for such an extended period, they are considerably large in size and mostly require support.
The heirloom species grow quite tall, reaching a height of about 12 feet (144 inches), but most tomato plants only attain a height of 6 feet (72 inches).
Supporting a large tomato plant requires some support in the form of a cage or sturdy staking.
The growth of some indeterminate tomatoes is so robust that typical tomato cages do not suffice.
In such a case, the large indeterminate tomatoes may need metal rebar stakes or any other strong support. Alternatively, you can let them flourish on the ground.
You can pick the tomatoes over time as the tomato plant keeps making fruit. The indeterminate tomatoes’ growth depends on the variety; some may only grow up to 0.4 feet (5 inches), while others extend over 12 feet.
How to Distinguish Between Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes?
The tomato plant’s form is a big clue as to what type it is, determinate or indeterminate. The tomato plant does not require support and has an overall compact shape.
The determinate tomato plant also produces more fruit on its terminal end, all fruit ripening at once. They are relatively smaller, so they are better for growing in small gardens and canning.
The larger indeterminate tomatoes have a much longer stem and grow throughout the summer season until the first frost hits.
Unless given support or kept off the ground, the fruit touches the ground, becoming a delightful meal for the ants and other insects.
Moreover, the indeterminate tomato plant will form fruit all along its stem instead of at the tips only.
Let’s take a look at a few more points that distinguish determinate tomatoes from indeterminate tomatoes:
- Check the plant’s shoot formation. If it is short, it is a determinate tomato plant. A longer shoot indicates an indeterminate tomato plant.
- The indeterminate tomato plants will sprout flowers along their shoots’ sides even in mildly unfavorable conditions. The determinate tomato plant, however, will only bloom when the conditions are most favorable.
Key Points for Differentiating Between Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes
- Smaller, predetermined size.
- Fruit ripens much earlier in the growing season, over two weeks.
- Ideal for jarring and canning.
- Require lesser support, caging, or sturdy staking.
- The plant usually ends by midsummer, leaving place for other plants.
- Appropriate for storage in containers.
- Can also be integrated with flower beds.
- Large plants with a sprawling habit and undetermined size.
- Plants grow, produce fruit, and flower all season.
- Do not stop growing until the first frost hits.
- Needs stable support or staking.
- Inground planting is better than containers.
- Appropriate for big, dedicated vegetable beds.
Noticeable Similarity Between the Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes
A point to note here is that there are some similarities between the two types. One similarity is that determinate and indeterminate tomatoes form new foliage at the branching points.
Another type that falls between these two categories is the semi-determinate tomatoes. Therefore, leaves are not reliable indicators of the tomato plant type.
Differences in the Care of Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes
Although both are tomato plant types, they are some differences in the care of Determinate and Indeterminate tomatoes.
The indeterminate tomato plant varieties produce large fruits. Therefore, they need plenty of space to flourish fully, such as a big garden or field.
When you are pruning this variety, only cut a few stems, ideally those that are damaged or diseased. Eliminating mature stems will not promote growth in most cases.
Furthermore, remove the suckers off the indeterminate plants up just under the first flower cluster.
This will result in healthier stem formation, a more efficient transport system, better fruiting, and sprouting of more flowers.
How to Choose the Right Tomato Variety- Determinate or Indeterminate?
If you want tomatoes for an extended period for snacking or adding to sandwiches and salads, indeterminate tomatoes are your best bet.
Most varieties of indeterminate tomatoes are highly prolific, giving you an endless supply of tomatoes that may even last you all year.
If you have only 2 – 3 indeterminate tomato plants, they are enough for feeding a family of four.
Most of the popular heirloom tomatoes are from indeterminate varieties. To ensure that you bring home the right type, check for ‘indeterminate, IND, or INDET’ on the tomato plant bag.
On the other hand, determinate tomato plants behave more appropriately for container culture.
Determinate tomatoes are also a more suitable option if you have a medium-sized garden that you want to fill with tomato plants only for a particular time.
For the determinate tomatoes, look for ‘determinate’ or ‘DET’ as the tomato plant’s growth habit.
For a greater harvest, combine a few determinate varieties that bear late, mid, and early seasons. If you like your tomatoes canned, tried, or as sauce, determinate tomatoes that are ripe at once are the ideal choice.
Indeterminate Tomato Plant Recommendations
Some of the recent indeterminate tomato varieties with good reviews from garden authorities and horticulturists include the following:
- Better Boy: This is an indeterminate tomato plant variety, also called hybrid beefsteak tomato. It produces 10 – 16 ounces of fruit in about 75 days from the planting date.
- Big Beef: Another indeterminate tomato variety is Big Beef. It produces 10 – 12 ounces of fruit and takes about 73 days to grow to its full size. It was an All-America Selections Winner in 1994.
- Early Girl: This is another variety of indeterminate tomatoes. This produces fruit about 8 ounces in size after 50 – 52 days after planting.
- Juliet: This is another variety of indeterminate tomatoes. It is a hybrid variety that gives rise to elongated cherry tomatoes. It produces 1 ounce of fruit in about 60 days after planting. This was an All-America Selections Winner.
- Sun Sugar: This is another variety of indeterminate tomatoes. It is a hybrid variety that forms cherry tomatoes along with orange fruit. It produces 1 ounce of indeterminate tomatoes in about 62 days after planting.
Indeterminate Tomatoes- What Suits them Better? Stakes or Tomato Cages?
The indeterminate tomatoes have a considerably large size. Therefore, they require support with stakes or cages. Such structures are among the fastest and easiest ways to grow vertical veggies, including peppers and tomatoes.
Although the indeterminate tomatoes need something to climb on, they are not ‘true’ vines. However, ideally, the branches should be tied periodically so that they are upright.
Caging is one of the simplest ways to support indeterminate tomatoes and even determinate tomatoes if they require support.
However, staking is a better method for growing indeterminate tomatoes as they support vining plants more effectively.
Staking indeterminate tomatoes is an excellent method to keep your plants upright and their fruits off the ground.
You can use materials such as bamboo, scrap wood, and metal for staking. You will also need some tying material along with your takes.
Tie this at regular intervals all along the vines by using plastic ties, twist-ties, or fabric ties. Furthermore, prune the indeterminate tomatoes every now and then to enjoy a more prolific yield.
Most gardeners prefer growing indeterminate tomatoes as they grow for a longer period. As for determinate tomatoes, you can find them in commercial markets as canned fruits.
Indeterminate Tomatoes – The Most Popular Varieties from Around the World
Following are some of the most common Indeterminate Tomato plant varieties:
1. Allerbest Indeterminate Tomatoes
The Allerbest indeterminate tomatoes are from Germany. They are pretty popular but not used as home plants since they come with only a few seeds.
2. Alicante Indeterminate Tomatoes
Another variety is the Alicant indeterminate tomatoes that come from various regions of the United Kingdom. They take about 70 days to mature and are reasonably famous all across England.
3. Amarillo Indeterminate Tomatoes
A unique variety is the Amarillo indeterminate tomatoes. They are again quite popular due to their golden color and pleasant taste. They are mostly produced commercially.
4. Amai Indeterminate Tomatoes
Another variety is the Amai indeterminate tomatoes, which take up the shape of grapes. They are mostly ripe in the midseason of summer.
5. Amish Paste Indeterminate Tomatoes
The Amish Paste indeterminate tomatoes are known for their soft bodies and juicy flesh. As the name suggests, they are used for making sauces and eaten fresh.
6. Aunt Ginny Indeterminate Tomatoes
You will quickly recognize the Aunty Ginny indeterminate tomatoes as they have a distinctive pink color. This variety takes about 80 days to mature and was first introduced in Wisconsin in 1993.
7. Arkansas Traveler
The Arkansas Traveler indeterminate tomatoes variety best suits warm and humid climates. These tomatoes have considerable disease resistance.
8. Besser Indeterminate Tomatoes
The Besser variety of indeterminate tomatoes has been around for over a hundred years. They have a sweet taste and originate in Germany.
9. Big Daddy Indeterminate Tomatoes
The Big Daddy indeterminate tomatoes are ideal for adding to salads and sandwiches as they are served as slices. Each tomato weighs about 15 ounces; overall, the variety has a prolonged harvest.
10. Big Mama Indeterminate Tomatoes
Another indeterminate tomato variety great for sauces is Big Mama. They vary 3 – 5 inches and are plum-shaped.
11. Big Zebra Indeterminate Tomatoes
The Big Zebra indeterminate tomatoes variety has a mildly sweet flavor. They take up a distinct green-red color.
12. Boondocks Indeterminate Tomatoes
The Boondocks indeterminate tomatoes have a beefsteak profile and showcase a deep pink-red color. They can weigh up to 16 oz.
13. Brandy Boy Indeterminate Tomatoes
This is another indeterminate tomato variety with a better growth habit than several others. The Brandy Boy indeterminate tomatoes can spread to about 5 inches.
14. Burpee’s Big Boy Indeterminate Tomatoes
The Burpee’s Big Boy can weigh up to 10 oz. It was introduced back in 1949.
15. Beam’s Yellow Pear Indeterminate Tomatoes
The Beam’s Yellow Bar indeterminate tomatoes first sprouted in Indiana in 1983. They are bright yellow.
16. Bonny Best Indeterminate Tomatoes
The Bonny Best indeterminate tomato variety produces fruits weighing 8 ounces. They are suitable for all purposes.
17. Brandywine Indeterminate Tomatoes
Another indeterminate tomato variety is the Brandywine. They were first introduced back in 1889 and were presented to Stokes and Johnson in Ohio by a customer.
18. Carmelita Indeterminate Tomatoes
This indeterminate tomato variety is mainly eaten fresh due to its rich flavor. The Carmelita tomatoes grow to about 8 ounces.
19. Chef’s Choice Orange Indeterminate Tomatoes
Another indeterminate tomato variety is Chef’s Choice Orange. It has a distinct bright orange color and is often used in sauces and soups.
20. Crnkovic Yugoslavian Indeterminate Tomatoes
The Crnkovic Yugoslavian indeterminate tomatoes have an excellent flavor. Yasha Crnkovic introduced them in the US.
Frequently Asked Questions About Indeterminate Tomatoes
Are cherry tomatoes indeterminate tomatoes?
The cherry tomatoes belong to the indeterminate tomato variety. They have a big, sprawling growth habit requiring support and pruning.
However, if you have limited space, opt for the determinate tomato varieties, such as Roma and Rutgers.
Should I pinch off the tips of my indeterminate tomato plants?
Pinching the tomato plants is a vital part of tomato plant care. As it is naturally a bushy plant, it directs more of its energy towards the leaves.
Pinching focuses the tomato plant’s energy on growing fruits instead of foliage.
What is the main difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes?
While the indeterminate plants and larger and grow throughout the summer season until the first frost, determinate tomato varieties are smaller and have growing tips with fruits hanging on them.
Conclusion To What Are Indeterminate Tomatoes
Indeterminate Tomatoes are tomato plants that vine. They are larger in size compared to determinate tomatoes and will need support in form of a stake. They grow fruits from summer till the frost arrives.
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.