Should You Grow Determinate Or Indeterminate Tomatoes?

What Are Determinate or Indeterminate Tomatoes. And Why Does It Matter.

Determinate or Indeterminate Tomatoes. What do those terms mean. Why are they important and which is better for your garden.
Depositphoto ID2706675 Depgosper

If you look in many seed catalogs you will see that tomatoes come in many sizes and colors, flavors and degrees of disease resistance, hybrid and open pollinated. But you will also see the terms indeterminate or determinate tomatoes. What do those terms mean and why are they important?

affiliate link


This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this link it will cost you nothing extra, but I will get a small amount which helps keep this blog going. And I thank your for that.

Determinate or Indeterminate Tomatoes.

Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes. What do those terms mean. Why are they important and which is better for your garden.
depositphoto ID 108132758 5ph ID 109563208 karissaa

One of the most asked questions about tomatoes is what do the terms determinate or indeterminate mean. And they are very important terms to know so you can make informed decisions about which tomatoes are the right ones for you to grow.


Very simply put, determinate tomatoes grow to a specific height unique to that type of tomato and they stop growing. They are often referred to as bush tomatoes. Then they set all their fruit at one time. Whoa, why would you want a tomato to do that? What if you wanted your tomatoes for canning, making a large pot of sauce or drying? You wouldn’t want to have to put up just one can at a time. Or keep your dehydrator out all summer. You would want to be able to go out and pick a bunch and get it all done at once. Being aware of which you plant is also important when you plant them, as determinate plants do not get as big and don’t need as heavy duty staking. They might be just the plant you want if you have a very short growing season so half of your tomatoes aren’t still green when the first frost hits, or if you have a CSA and want to have a large amount of fruit all at one time. If you are growing them in containers and need the plant to be smaller they mat also be just what you are looking for. Sometimes on the label or in the catalog it is abbreviated DET.

Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes. What do those terms mean. Why are they important and which is better for your garden.
depositphoto id 11389788 rajen1980 id87830068


Yep, you guessed it. An indeterminate tomato plant is a vine that keeps on growing for the whole growing season. It generally gets a lot bigger and requires much more substantial staking. But it gives you tomatoes throughout the growing season. This is good if you want your tomatoes for eating fresh over a long period of time. A sandwich one day, on your salad the next. You will have tomatoes at every stage of development all at the same time on an indeterminate plant. This is generally not a perfect plant for a container. Remember, an indeterminate tomato generally needs a much stronger and taller support. On the plant label or in the catalog it may be abbreviated IND.


Some Tomato Cage Ideas.

The stakes here are about the only ones I have found that might be able to stake a full size indeterminate tomato plant. Most of the rest of the “ready made tomato cages” just wont stand up. (literally!) I have had to string tie them from the top of my “store bought” tomato cages over to the fence on BOTH SIDES of my garden  just to keep them upright. (Try working in THAT garden, ducking under strings going everywhere!)

Here is a link to a do it yourself cage that “the farmers wife” made that might just do the trick. Another option if you have a row of tomatoes is to do the Florida tomato weave. Or you can do what I do and use panty hose to tie them to a chain link fence.

 Determinate or Indeterminate Tomatoes.

So which tomato type is right for you? And how many should you plant? Well if you have enough room, maybe some of both. Then you have tomatoes throughout the season and you still have enough to can, dry or just give away. That sounds like the best of both worlds. Now that you have the skinny on the terms determinate or indeterminate tomatoes, let me know in the comments which tomatoes are your favorite to grow, and why. Maybe we can find a new favorite.

Need more tomato inspiration? Check these out and have a wonderful day in the garden.

Now have a ducky day!! And enjoy those tomatoes!

Don’t forget to sign up for the “gardening posse” so you don’t miss a single post, and get your FREE CHART!









  1. Claudia Maria | 29th Jul 16

    Wonderful! Sorry, I take a little time for you. You are right but I speakeraggi and I read english only a little, so is this the only reason for my few click. Thanks a lot, you are marvellous

    • Mary | 31st Jul 16

      Wonderful. Glad you are along for the ride.

Leave A Comment

Thanks for checking out my blog. Bloggers love comments, so if you've left one THANK YOU! And if you liked this post enough to share it on Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook, Bless You!