Tomatoes – what is the difference between determinant and indeterminate plants?

The terms “determinate” and “indeterminate” refer to different growth habits in tomato plants, particularly regarding how they produce and ripen fruit.

Determinate Tomatoes:

Characteristics: Determinate tomatoes are often referred to as bush tomatoes because they have a more compact and bushy growth habit. They grow to a predetermined size and produce a finite number of fruit clusters.

Fruit Ripening: Determinate tomato plants tend to set fruit all at once, and they typically produce earlier in the growing season. After this initial fruiting period, the plant’s growth slows down, and it focuses on ripening the existing fruit.

Ideal Use: Determinate varieties are suitable for gardeners who want a more controlled harvest and prefer a bushier plant that may be easier to manage in smaller spaces.

Indeterminate Tomatoes:

Characteristics: Indeterminate tomatoes have a vining or sprawling growth habit. They continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the growing season until they are killed by frost or other environmental factors.

Fruit Ripening: Indeterminate tomato plants produce fruit continuously, allowing for a prolonged harvest period. This characteristic makes them well-suited for gardeners who prefer a steady supply of fresh tomatoes over an extended period.

Ideal Use: Indeterminate varieties are often chosen by gardeners with larger spaces, such as those with ample garden beds or those using stakes or cages to support the vining growth.

In summary, the key difference lies in the growth pattern and fruiting behavior. Determinate tomatoes grow to a predetermined size, produce fruit in a more concentrated period, and are often more compact. Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, have a continuous and sprawling growth habit, providing a more extended harvest period. Gardeners select between these types based on their preferences, available space, and desired harvesting characteristics.

I usually remember it this way – “I am determined to produce my fruit fast”- for determinant plants 🙂 and the indeterminate I remember by “in de vine” 🙂

We have lots and lots of tomato seeds to grow – they are so easy and we have both types so get some now!