A Guide to Determinate vs Indeterminate Tomatoes

Should you choose determinate or indeterminate tomatoes? This article will compare Determinate vs Indeterminate tomatoes to help you make a decision.

Tomatoes are one of the main crops for the home garden, producing ripe fruit in abundance, with little input from their growers. They come in many shapes and colors, but there’s one thing all tomatoes have in common: tomato plants start to produce flowers very quickly after planting.

Determinate vs Indeterminate Tomatoes

There are so many varieties of tomatoes that it can be hard to decide which type to plant. Tomatoes are either determinate or indeterminate. Indeterminate varieties grow on tall vining plants and keep growing indefinitely, producing fruit over a long period of time.

Determinate varieties grow on a smaller, bush-like plant. They grow until they reach a specific height and then send everything into bloom to produce ripe fruit at once in what is referred to as a “big bang.” You may find that you end up with more tomatoes than you and your family can eat.

Indeterminate Tomatoes

Indeterminate Tomatoes
Big Beef

Indeterminate varieties are the classic tomato plant that you see in grandma’s garden. These vines grow continuously throughout the season, producing new leaves and eventually fruiting all summer long until frost kills them back. The fruit comes in slowly, giving you a steady supply of green tomatoes for up to 6 to 8 weeks. The vines can get very tall, and most indeterminate varieties grow between 6 and 12 feet tall.

This is the best type of tomato if you are canning or drying the ripe fruit to use throughout the winter. Indeterminate tomatoes may also be left growing in their pots all season long and brought indoors when frost begins to appear in the forecast. They will keep producing fruit inside, even if it is just a few green tomatoes at first.

If you choose to grow indeterminate tomatoes, be sure to place them somewhere that they can continue growing indefinitely.

Indeterminate Tomato Varieties

  • ‘Big Beef’: This is the classic large-fruited beefsteak tomato.
  • ‘Brandywine’: An heirloom variety that is a favorite of many gardeners for taste and production.
  • ‘Roma’: The classic paste tomato, perfect for making spaghetti sauce or canning whole tomatoes.

Determinate Tomatoes

Determinate Tomatoes
San Marzano

Determinate varieties grow until they reach a specific height and then send everything into bloom to produce ripe fruit at once. When they are using their energy for flower and fruit production, they won’t get any taller. Determinate varieties are small, bush-like plants that generally grow to between 2 and 3 feet tall. Many determinate varieties will start to produce fruit just 45 days after they have been planted, although they won’t be ready to pick for another 15 to 35 days.

Determinate tomatoes are easy to grow and care for. You can prune off the bottom leaves so that the plant puts its energy into producing fruit. Also, water regularly and plant in a good quality compost mix for best results.

As determinate varieties are smaller plants, you can grow them in a pot on your patio or in a greenhouse. This will allow you to bring your tomato plant indoors when frost is expected. These plants do not have to be trained up trellises or stakes, so they are perfect for patio pots if you want to grow your tomatoes in the house over the winter months.

Determinate Tomato Varieties

  • Patio choice yellow: This is the classic patio tomato, perfect for small spaces.
  • ‘Celebrity’: A very popular variety that yields masses of red tomatoes with a very nice flavor.
  • San Marzano: A popular pasta tomato with an early harvest of tasty plum fruits on short vines.


When choosing between determinate vs indeterminate tomatoes, the number one determining factor is going to be where you are planting them.

There are many varieties of tomato plants that can give you great results if you know what to look for. If you want your plants to continue producing fruit throughout the year, choose an indeterminate variety. If you’re looking for a smaller plant that will fit into a pot on the patio, a determinate tomato plant is right for you.

If you have plenty of space and want a tall, indeterminate plant that will give you lots of ripe fruit over the summer months, look for an heirloom variety to try this year!

We have a lot of content related to tomatoes on this site.  Whether you are looking for the best time to plant tomatoes, how long it takes to get from flower to tomato, and more.  Good luck with your tomatoes!