Key Differences Between Determinate, Indeterminate, And Dwarf Tomato Varieties

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Quick Answer: Key Differences Between Determinate, Indeterminate, And Dwarf Tomato Varieties

The three main classifications of tomato varieties according to their growth habitat are determinate, indeterminate, and dwarf. Determinate tomatoes have a predetermined genetic quality, are compact, and produce fruits within a small time. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to flower and bear fruits over the season and require staking or caging. Dwarf tomatoes are small-sized plants suitable for containers and patios.

In this guide, I will discuss the differences between tomato varieties, including determinate, indeterminate, and dwarf suitable for your garden.

Keep reading!

Types Of Tomato Varieties

The tomato plants are classified according to their growth habitat into determinate, indeterminate, and dwarf. They range in different flavors and are suitable for different spaces.

Nothing beats a homegrown, freshly plucked fruit. People across the glow love eating them raw, cooking savory dishes, and canning them.

The first step in planning a vegetable garden is choosing the tomato types suitable for your area.

The three main types of tomatoes classified according to the growing habitat are determinate, indeterminate, and dwarf.

With flavors ranging from mild, tangy, to sweet, you may choose different varieties depending on the climate and space availability.

Determinate Tomatoes

Determinate or bush tomato varieties stop growing after a particular height and produce fruits within a concentrated time. They do not require pruning and are perfect for canning.

Determinate tomato varieties are types that produce fruits in a concentrated time span. They are compact and grow to a fixed size. Their mature height is predetermined by genetics.

They are also called bush or patio tomatoes as they grow vertically at first. They do not increase their length throughout the growing season. The crop-bearing stops within four or five weeks.

They do not require heavy -pruning or removing suckers for increased crop yield.

Most of the plants grow to a height of about four feet and stop growing later.

I plant these varieties in a small garden and raised beds due to their smaller length and well-behaved growth habits. You may require five-gallon pots if using containers.

All fruits ripen close to the same time making them ideal for canning and preserving.

So, they are preferred by commercial farms of ketchup and sauce manufacturers.

Table: Popular Determinate Tomato Varieties

NameDays to HarvestFruit Weight
Sub Arctic Plenty45 days 3 to 4 ounces
Mountain Spring65 days9 ounces
Celebrity70 days10 ounces
Mountain Delight70 days10 ounces
Mountain Gold70 days8 ounces

Advantages of Determinate Tomato Varieties

  • They are perfect for container gardening and small spaces.
  • They do not require pruning or removing suckers.
  • They are perfect for preserving and canning.
  • Most types require little staking.

Limitations of Determinate Tomato Varieties

  • Fewer determinate varieties are available
  • They do not have an intensity and complexity of flavors like indeterminate varieties.
  • They do not have a long harvest window.

Indeterminate Tomatoes

Indeterminate tomato plants continually produce fruits till they are killed by frost or disease. They require support and pruning. Unlike determinate varieties, they have a gradual fruit yield.

Indeterminate tomato plants grow and produce fruits until the plants are killed by a frost or disease.

Their genetics do not predetermine the height and width of plants. They are referred to as vining tomatoes.

They will never set terminal flower clusters and produce only lateral ones.

They may grow quite tall reaching a height of about eight to ten feet in a single season depending on the genotype and type of pruning.

The central growing stem expands indefinitely,  and I often prune or remove suckers to control the growth of the plants. Remove only after two leaves develop.

They continuously produce fruits on a ripening schedule.

Another feature of indeterminate variety is the formation of side-shoots or suckers at the joint between the leaf shaft and stem.

They require large sturdy cages for support.

You may grow them upside down from a hanging basket. This will keep the fruits off the ground and eliminate the need for support. You may have to use a strong hook and sturdy hanger.

Table: Popular Indeterminate Tomato Varieties

NameDays to HarvestFruit Weight
Early Cascade55 days to harvest4 ounces
Early Girl54 days to harvest5 ounces
Champion65 days to harvest10 ounces
Fantastic70 days to harvest9 ounces
Burpee’s Big Girl78 days to harvest16 ounces
Golden Boy80 days to harvest8 ounces
Pink Girl76 days to harvest7 ounces

Advantages of Indeterminate Tomato Varieties

  • A huge selection of varieties is available.
  • They may produce flavorful tomatoes as plenty of foliage is available. So, more photosynthesis and more sugar formation, result in flavor development.
  • They may have a gradual and continuous fruit yield.

Disadvantages of Indeterminate Tomato Varieties

  • They may require some sort of support, including staking, trellising, or caging.
  • They become a tangled mess and more susceptible to disease if left sprawling on the ground.

Dwarf Variety of Tomatoes

The recent addition to the tomato varieties is the dwarf type. They are small-sized plants producing normal-sized fruits. It is suitable for small spaces and containers.

The plant breeders have introduced tomatoes that are under five feet and produce large-sized fruits for a longer period.

These are called dwarf tomatoes.

The term ‘dwarf’ refers to the size of the plants and not the size of the tomatoes.

In 2006, Tomato enthusiasts Craig LeHoullier of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Patrina Nuske Small of Australia started the Dwarf Tomato Project.

They developed 67 dwarf tomato varieties suitable for small spaces.

The Key features of dwarf tomatoes are

  • The height of the plants is about 2 to 4 ½ feet
  • Sturdy support to hold the plants upright
  • Minimal pruning
  • Flavors ranging from sweet to tart
  • Grows in a limited space
  • It requires 5-gallon containers or straw bales
  • Produces fruits in all sizes, shapes, and colors

The examples for dwarf varieties are  mentioned in the table below

Table: Examples of Dwarf Varieties

NameDays to HarvestFruit Weight
Berry Beauty/Indeterminate90 days to maturitygreen-yellow color
Blazing Beauty/Indeterminate75 days to maturityyellow-orange
Firebird Sweet/Indeterminate75 days to maturity bi-colored pink
Rosella Crimson/Determinate 78 days to maturitypink
Lemon Ice/Indeterminate70 days to maturityyellow-orange
Sweet Scarlet/Determinate90 days to maturityred
Uluru Ochre/Indeterminate65 days to maturityblack-orange


  • Dwarf varieties continuously produce fruits
  • They may develop the best flavors due to ample foliage
  • They are perfect for containers and don’t need tall stakes or trellises.


  • Limited availability

Which Variety to Choose? Making Choices

Experiment with different varieties according to the available spaces. You may choose the variety best suited to your needs, climate, availability, cultural methods, and taste buds.

All the varieties have their advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking for thick tomatoes for making pastes, the determinate variety with fewer seeds is better.

If you live in an area with a short growing season, the determinate type is better. If you want to have a long-season harvest, you may use indeterminate variety.

You may experiment with different types and choose the variety best suited to your area and taste buds.

For more information on different tomato varieties, check out this video:


Are all dwarf tomato varieties determinate?

No. Not all dwarf tomato varieties are determinate. Also, most of them are indeterminate. It produces fruit for a longer time.  But, they don’t grow to an uncontrollable height and stop at a maximum of five feet.

What is called semi-determinate tomato varieties?

The semi-determinate plants are larger than determinate but smaller than indeterminate. Some gardeners refer them as large determinates. The number of branches is lesser than determinate, and the length of branches is more.


I hope this article has provided you with guidelines about the three varieties of tomatoes available and which one is suitable in what conditions.

Do share this with your friends and family who love to grow tomatoes!