Determinate vs Indeterminate Tomatoes (Pruning, How to Tell, A-Z List)

determinate tomatoes

Ah, the age-old debate: determinate or indeterminate tomatoes? If you’re new to gardening, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about.

Determinate vs Indeterminate Tomatoes

Basically, determinate tomatoes are more compact plants that produce all of their fruit at once, while indeterminate tomatoes are sprawling plants that produce fruit throughout the growing season.

Determinate tomatoes are a good choice for small gardens, or if you’re growing tomatoes in pots, since they don’t need a lot of space to spread out. They’re also a good option if you want to make tomato sauce or can your tomatoes, since you’ll be able to harvest all of the fruit at once.

Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, are great if you are looking for a continuous supply of fresh tomatoes throughout the summer. Indeterminate tomato plants are also much more realistic for growers with larger gardens or in a raised garden bed.

What is a Determinate Tomato Plant?

As I mentioned above, a determinate tomato plant will produce one larger harvest as opposed to providing fruits throughout the season. A good way to think about it is they have a “determined” harvest and time frame in which they generally produce fruit.

Determinate varieties are often called “bush” tomatoes because they stay smaller and more compact compared to the much taller indeterminate plants.

Many indeterminate varieties can reach 8-9 feet tall while determinate varieties tend to stay around 4-5 feet. Since they only produce tomatoes during one main harvest, determinate tomato plants don’t need to be pruned as often, if at all.

To make things even more interesting, there are also semi-determinate tomatoes which just adds to the complication. 🙂

Advantages

  • They produce all their fruit at once making them great for canning and preserving
  • They require less pruning and maintenance
  • They plants stay small making them ideal for patio and container gardening

Disadvantages

  • They won’t provide fruit throughout the season
  • Once they produce their first harvest, fruit production stops
  • Most heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate

What is an Indeterminate Tomato Plant?

An indeterminate tomato plant will produce and ripen fruit throughout the season. A good way to think about it is they have a “determined” harvest and time frame in which they generally produce fruit. You are going to get a more slow and steady supply of tomatoes throughout the season.

Growing indeterminate tomatoes can be a little more work because you will want to prune tomato suckers to help the plant grow tall and offer up larger fruits.

Many indeterminate varieties can reach 8-9 feet tall when pruned properly. Some common varieties that are typically indeterminate types are cherry tomatoes, heirlooms, Amish Paste, and more.

Advantages

  • They produce fruit all season long
  • Many heirloom and cherry tomatoes are indeterminate

Disadvantages

  • They require a little more pruning and maintenance
  • The plants can get quite large, so they’re not great for small gardens

Determinate Tomato Varieties

Here is a list I’ve curated of determinate types to give you an idea of what types you might want to try growing.

CultivarGrowth HabitDays to MaturityWhere to Buy
Abe LincolnIndeterminate75Get Seeds
AbigailIndeterminate75
Ace 55 Determinate75Get Seeds
Amelia Determinate75
Amish PasteIndeterminate85Get Seeds
Anna RussianIndeterminate65
Arkansas TravelerIndeterminate75Get Seeds
Atlas Determinate65
Aunt Gertie's GoldIndeterminate75Get Seeds
AzoychkaIndeterminate70Get Seeds
Banana Legs Determinate72Get Seeds
BasingaIndeterminate80Get Seeds
Better BoyIndeterminate75Get Seeds
Better Bush Determinate68
Big BeefIndeterminate73Get Seeds
Big BoyIndeterminate78Get Seeds
Big League Determinate47
Big Rainbow Indeterminate85Get Seeds
Big YellowIndeterminate80Get Seeds
Biltmore Determinate80
Black BeautyIndeterminate80Get Seeds
Black CherryIndeterminate68Get Seeds
Black from TulaIndeterminate75Get Seeds
Black KrimIndeterminate72Get Seeds
Black Sea ManDeterminate75Get Seeds
Blondkopfchen75
Blue Berries Indeterminate74Get Seeds
Bonny BestIndeterminate80Get Seeds
BrandywineIndeterminate72Get Seeds
Bush Beefsteak Determinate62
Cal Ace Determinate75Get Seeds
Candy's YellowIndeterminate75Get Seeds
Caro Rich Determinate80Get Seeds
Celebrity Determinate70Get Seeds
Chef's Choice OrangeIndeterminate75
Cherokee PurpleIndeterminate75-80Get Seeds
Cherry BombIndeterminate64
Cherry Gold45
Chuck's YellowIndeterminate77Get Seeds
Cream Sausage Determinate73Get Seeds
DamselIndeterminate73
Dark GalaxyIndeterminate75
Defiant PhR Determinate65
Dr. Wyche's YellowIndeterminate78Get Seeds
Dwarf Purple HeartDeterminate70
Early GirlIndeterminate51
Egg YolkIndeterminate70Get Seeds
Evan’s Purple PearIndeterminate75
Five Star GrapeIndeterminate62
Galahad Determinate69
German JohnsonIndeterminate76
Giant OxheartIndeterminate90
GlacierIndeterminate55
Gold Nugget Determinate54Get Seeds
Golden Roma75
Golden SweetIndeterminate60
Grandaddy Determinate72
Grandma Oliver's GreenIndeterminate80
Grape TomatoIndeterminate60Get Seeds
Green ZebraIndeterminate78
Hartman's Yellow Gooseberry
Helsing Junction BluesIndeterminate60-65Get Seeds
HillbillyIndeterminate85Get Seeds
Homestead 24 Determinate75
Independence Day (Fourth of July)Indeterminate49
Indigo AppleIndeterminate75Get Seeds
Indigo RoseIndeterminate75Get Seeds
Isis CandyIndeterminate65Get Seeds
Japanense Black TrifeleIndeterminate80
JasperIndeterminate60
JetstarIndeterminate72
JulietIndeterminate60
Kellogg's BreakfastIndeterminate80Get Seeds
Large Barred Boar Determinate65
Legend Determinate68
Lemon BoyIndeterminate75Get Seeds
Little Blonde Girl75
Marglobe Determinate75
Marizol PurpleIndeterminate80
Midnight RomaSemi-Determinate80
Midnight SelectIndeterminate72Get Seeds
Mortgage LifterIndeterminate85
MoskvichIndeterminate60
Mr. StripeyIndeterminate80Get Seeds
New Big Dwarf Determinate60
New Yorker Determinate63
Oregon Spring Determinate65
Owen’s PurpleIndeterminate75
Paul RobesonIndeterminate78Get Seeds
PineappleIndeterminate90Get Seeds
Pink OxheartIndeterminate85
Pink San MarzanoIndeterminate85
Powers HeirloomIndeterminate79Get Seeds
Pride of FlandersDeterminate70Get Seeds
Principe Borghese Determinate75
Purple Bumble BeeIndeterminate68Get Seeds
Purple CalabashIndeterminate83Get Seeds
Dwarf Purple ReignIndeterminate75
Purple RussianIndeterminate76Get Seeds
RapunzelIndeterminate70
Rio Grande Determinate80
Roma Determinate75
RoseIndeterminate78
Rosella PurpleIndeterminate78Get Seeds
Rugged Boy Determinate75
Rutgers (Jersey Tomato) Determinate75
San MarzanoIndeterminate85
San Marzano GiganteIndeterminate90
San Marzano LampadinaIndeterminate78
San Marzano Nano Determinate75
San Marzano ScataloneIndeterminate75
SantorangeIndeterminate60
Schwarze SarahIndeterminate79Get Seeds
Southern NightIndeterminate85Get Seeds
StupiceIndeterminate52
Sugar BombsIndeterminate
Summer Pick Determinate75
Sun GoldIndeterminate60Get Seeds
Sunshine BlueIndeterminate72
Super FantasticIndeterminate70
Super Sweet 100Indeterminate65
SupersonicIndeterminate75
Sweet 100Indeterminate70
Talladega Determinate67
Tangerine
Taxi Determinate68
Tims Black RufflesIndeterminate78Get Seeds
Tumbling Tom Red Determinate60
Tycoon Determinate80
Valleycat Determinate70
Washington Cherry Determinate60
White CherryIndeterminate75
Wine JugIndeterminate78
Yellow BellIndeterminate60
Yellow BrandywineIndeterminate90Get Seeds
Yellow PearIndeterminate71Get Seeds
Aunt SophiesIndeterminate90
Aladdin's LampIndeterminate80
Amana OrangeIndeterminate
Barnes MountainIndeterminate
Burning SpearIndeterminate
Dad's SunsetIndeterminate
Woodle Orange
Yellow Teardrop
Big Girl
orange jubilee tomato
Yellow JubileeIndeterminate65-80Get Seeds
Golden Sweet Cherry Tomato
Golden SunrayIndeterminate75Get Seeds
jaune flamme tomato
persimmon tomato plants
valencia heirloom tomato
carolina gold tomatoes
breakfast sweet

Indeterminate Tomato Varieties

Here is a long list of tomato varieties and cultivars that are considered indeterminate. I update this list regularly as I find more fun varieties to grow.

CultivarGrowth HabitDays to Maturity
Abe LincolnIndeterminate75
AbigailIndeterminate75
Ace 55 Determinate75
Amelia Determinate75
Amish PasteIndeterminate85
Anna RussianIndeterminate65
Arkansas TravelerIndeterminate75
Atlas Determinate65
Aunt Gertie's GoldIndeterminate75
AzoychkaIndeterminate70
Banana Legs Determinate72
BasingaIndeterminate80
Better BoyIndeterminate75
Better Bush Determinate68
Big BeefIndeterminate73
Big BoyIndeterminate78
Big League Determinate47
Big Rainbow Indeterminate85
Big YellowIndeterminate80
Biltmore Determinate80
Black BeautyIndeterminate80
Black CherryIndeterminate68
Black from TulaIndeterminate75
Black KrimIndeterminate72
Black Sea ManDeterminate75
Blondkopfchen75
Blue Berries Indeterminate74
Bonny BestIndeterminate80
BrandywineIndeterminate72
Bush Beefsteak Determinate62
Cal Ace Determinate75
Candy's YellowIndeterminate75
Caro Rich Determinate80
Celebrity Determinate70
Chef's Choice OrangeIndeterminate75
Cherokee PurpleIndeterminate75-80
Cherry BombIndeterminate64
Cherry Gold45
Chuck's YellowIndeterminate77
Cream Sausage Determinate73
DamselIndeterminate73
Dark GalaxyIndeterminate75
Defiant PhR Determinate65
Dr. Wyche's YellowIndeterminate78
Dwarf Purple HeartDeterminate70
Early GirlIndeterminate51
Egg YolkIndeterminate70
Evan’s Purple PearIndeterminate75
Five Star GrapeIndeterminate62
Galahad Determinate69
German JohnsonIndeterminate76
Giant OxheartIndeterminate90
GlacierIndeterminate55
Gold Nugget Determinate54
Golden Roma75
Golden SweetIndeterminate60
Grandaddy Determinate72
Grandma Oliver's GreenIndeterminate80
Grape TomatoIndeterminate60
Green ZebraIndeterminate78
Hartman's Yellow Gooseberry
Helsing Junction BluesIndeterminate60-65
HillbillyIndeterminate85
Homestead 24 Determinate75
Independence Day (Fourth of July)Indeterminate49
Indigo AppleIndeterminate75
Indigo RoseIndeterminate75
Isis CandyIndeterminate65
Japanense Black TrifeleIndeterminate80
JasperIndeterminate60
JetstarIndeterminate72
JulietIndeterminate60
Kellogg's BreakfastIndeterminate80
Large Barred Boar Determinate65
Legend Determinate68
Lemon BoyIndeterminate75
Little Blonde Girl75
Marglobe Determinate75
Marizol PurpleIndeterminate80
Midnight RomaSemi-Determinate80
Midnight SelectIndeterminate72
Mortgage LifterIndeterminate85
MoskvichIndeterminate60
Mr. StripeyIndeterminate80
New Big Dwarf Determinate60
New Yorker Determinate63
Oregon Spring Determinate65
Owen’s PurpleIndeterminate75
Paul RobesonIndeterminate78
PineappleIndeterminate90
Pink OxheartIndeterminate85
Pink San MarzanoIndeterminate85
Powers HeirloomIndeterminate79
Pride of FlandersDeterminate70
Principe Borghese Determinate75
Purple Bumble BeeIndeterminate68
Purple CalabashIndeterminate83
Dwarf Purple ReignIndeterminate75
Purple RussianIndeterminate76
RapunzelIndeterminate70
Rio Grande Determinate80
Roma Determinate75
RoseIndeterminate78
Rosella PurpleIndeterminate78
Rugged Boy Determinate75
Rutgers (Jersey Tomato) Determinate75
San MarzanoIndeterminate85
San Marzano GiganteIndeterminate90
San Marzano LampadinaIndeterminate78
San Marzano Nano Determinate75
San Marzano ScataloneIndeterminate75
SantorangeIndeterminate60
Schwarze SarahIndeterminate79
Southern NightIndeterminate85
StupiceIndeterminate52
Sugar BombsIndeterminate
Summer Pick Determinate75
Sun GoldIndeterminate60
Sunshine BlueIndeterminate72
Super FantasticIndeterminate70
Super Sweet 100Indeterminate65
SupersonicIndeterminate75
Sweet 100Indeterminate70
Talladega Determinate67
Tangerine
Taxi Determinate68
Tims Black RufflesIndeterminate78
Tumbling Tom Red Determinate60
Tycoon Determinate80
Valleycat Determinate70
Washington Cherry Determinate60
White CherryIndeterminate75
Wine JugIndeterminate78
Yellow BellIndeterminate60
Yellow BrandywineIndeterminate90
Yellow PearIndeterminate71
Aunt SophiesIndeterminate90
Aladdin's LampIndeterminate80
Amana OrangeIndeterminate
Barnes MountainIndeterminate
Burning SpearIndeterminate
Dad's SunsetIndeterminate
Woodle Orange
Yellow Teardrop
Big Girl
orange jubilee tomato
Yellow JubileeIndeterminate65-80
Golden Sweet Cherry Tomato
Golden SunrayIndeterminate75
jaune flamme tomato
persimmon tomato plants
valencia heirloom tomato
carolina gold tomatoes
breakfast sweet

How Can You Tell if a Tomato is Determinate or Indeterminate?

There are a few ways to tell if your tomatoes are determinate or indeterminate.

Check Your Seed Packets

The back of your tomato seeds packet or tomato plant tags usually include some good information about the plants. And oftentimes that will include whether the plant is determinate or indeterminate.

Additionally, you can reference the charts above and see if your variety is listed there. Or just go to the seed companies website where you got them from and it should show up there.

Is it Tall or Bushy?

If your tomato plant is already in the ground, you can usually tell whether they are determinate or indeterminate tomatoes by waiting to see if the plant gets bushier, or is growing tall.

Since indeterminate tomatoes grow much tall, it should be a little more easy to tell, but of course you then have to wait for the season to really progress before you know.

How are the Leaves and Flowers Forming?

Determinate tomato plants usually grow leaves closer together on the stems, making them appear more bushy and full. Once flower buds begin to form, the plant will stop growing taller and focus its energy on producing fruit.

Determinate plants produce flowers and fruits on the ends of the stems, as opposed to on side branches like indeterminate plants.

Determinate tomatoes grow fruits on the ends of branches

Indeterminate tomato plants look more like vining plants and end up growing taller and faster than their counterparts. If you didn’t add a tomato cage or trellis around your plant, these would grow along the ground.

Indeterminate varieties tend to produce a flower cluster on side branches and stems, as opposed to on any and every branch.

If your plant continues to grow taller after it puts off flowers, then you have an indeterminate.

Tomato Suckers on Indeterminate Varieties – Remove Them or Leave Them?

When trying to get the largest harvest out of your indeterminate tomatoes, it all comes down to the suckers. No seriously, a tomato sucker is essentially an additional branch forming on your plant that will “suck” energy away from others and you’ll end up with smaller tomatoes.

Make sure you’re not confusing the growth stem for a sucker – you do not want to remove that or your plant will have very little growth from there on out.

How to Prune Off The Suckers

You may want to prune off the suckers to ensure you get a larger harvest. Otherwise, you might have a more leaf heavy and pretty-looking plant, but those extra branches won’t produce much fruit and will steal energy from the branches that have your tomatoes on them.

tomato suckers

You can see two tomato suckers above – one that just started growing in, and one that has been on the plant for about 5-7 days.

You will want to prune both off of the plant before they get more established. You can use simple pair of pruning shears, or oftentimes I’ll just break them off with my fingers.

If you left both of those, the plant will end up more bushy and with a ton of leaves, but only smaller fruits.

Make sure to check your tomato plants regularly, as suckers can appear and get quite large in a matter of days. I try to make it a habit to check my tomato plants every 2-3 days for suckers.

If you’re growing determinate tomatoes, you don’t want to prune off the suckers. Because determinate tomatoes only produce one harvest, if you prune the plant it will decrease your harvest yield by quite a bit as you’re essentially pruning off new growth that could lead to tomatoes.

Is it Better to Grow Determinate or Indeterminate Tomatoes?

There is no “one is better” when it comes to determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but they are just different in terms of their growth habits.

If you’re looking to grow tomatoes for canning and preserving, then you might want to consider growing determinate tomatoes. But if you’re looking to eat fresh garden tomatoes throughout the growing season, an indeterminate variety is more likely to be what you’re looking for.

Or you can grow both types and enjoy the positives of each one!

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AUTHOR

Hi - I'm Chenell! I'm on a mission to learn how to grow my own food, and help other people do the same.

I lived in the city for almost a decade, but after moving to the suburbs, I started making my Iowa blood proud and growing all kinds of food 🌽 I started this website to help keep track of the journey while teaching others the mistakes and things I'm learning along the way. You can follow along with the journey and learn more here.

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