How To Tell Determinate From Indeterminate Tomatoes? [5 Ways]

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Confused between determinate from indeterminate tomatoes? This guide is to help you easily differentiate determinate from indeterminate tomatoes.

Shall we dig in?

How To Tell Determinate From Indeterminate Tomatoes?

If you are new to growing tomatoes, you may be wondering about the differences between determinate and indeterminate varieties that you often see on the label of tomato plants.

Tomatoes are broadly classified into determinate and indeterminate varieties according to their growth habit, size, and time of harvest.

You can tell determinate from indeterminate tomatoes by looking at the tag or packet while purchasing the seed or seedling at the garden center. Else, you may also inspect the plant height, branch formation, leaves location, and the number of flowers once the plants mature to determine the variety.

Next, I will discuss the different characteristics to differentiate determinate from indeterminate tomatoes.

1. By Examining Plant Tag Or Seed Packet

The most obvious step is to check for the tag or seed packet while purchasing seeds or seedlings at a nursery.

You may also check for the catalogues in the garden centre. It will help you learn about the cultivar.

If you missed the tag, you might have to wait until the plant matures to give you a few hints to identify the type.

2. Inspecting The Plant Height

You may inspect the height of the plant after it is mature and has tomatoes. The key is to inspect if it is bush-like or has a vining structure.

If your plant is more compact, stocky, and with a bushy structure, it may be a determinate variety. It is usually 4 feet tall or less.

If the plant is very tall and leggier with a vine type of structure, then it may be an indeterminate variety. It is usually longer than six feet.

3. By Closely Noticing The Plant Leaves

If you observe that the plant leaves are very close to the stem with a bushy appearance, it may be a determinate type. So, it is sometimes referred to as bush variety.

If the variety has leaves that are spaced apart on the branch, it may be an indeterminate or vining type.

4. Checking For The Shoot Formation

If your plant stops its shoot production and growth after the flowers form, it is a determinate variety.

But, indeterminate varieties have longer stem growth with sparse foliage and continue growing their shoots until the weather conditions are unfavourable.

Here is an informative video on determinate and indeterminate varieties:

5. Determine The Flowering Position

If your plant flowers all at once and ripens simultaneously, it may be a determinate variety. Most determinate tomatoes are usually formed on the terminal ends and are comparatively smaller than the indeterminate type.

Plus, it has a short growing season, usually four or five weeks. It makes them ideal for canning and preparing sauces.

But, indeterminate plants will have flowers and fruits all through the season. The tomatoes develop along the sides of the shoots throughout the growing season.

Also, they take later to mature.

Classification Table of Poplar Tomato Varieties as Determinate from Indeterminate

Here is a quick reference table for you about the popular tomato types and their classification –

Determinate TomatoesIndeterminate Tomatoes
Growth habitCompact and stockyContinuous leggy growth
Caging or stakingPreferably cagesPreferably
Position of fruitsTowards the terminal endAll along the stems
Fruit productionOnly onceThroughout the growing season
Space requirementSmall spaceLarger space or garden bed
ExamplesRutgers, RomaGoldie, Beefsteak

Now that you know the difference, you may pick the suitable variety depending upon the use, availability, and length of the growing season.


So, these were a few easy and practical tips for differentiating between determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties! I hope this helps!

I am interested to hear your thoughts on growing these varieties.

Please share the guide with your friends and family if you find it helpful!