With the wide variety of tomatoes varieties, gardeners often focus on whether to grow standard, beefsteak, oxheart, cherry, Roma, grape, plum or one of the many types of heirloom species. But before getting to this point, there is a more basic decision to make: whether to grow determinate or indeterminate tomatoes.
The Determinate/Indeterminate Distinction
The basic differences are this: determinate tomatoes have a genetically programmed growing limit, growing to a defined height and then setting their flowers and forming fruit all at once. The limited growth pattern makes them ideal for container plantings or in garden areas with limited space.
Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, will continue and grow and produce fruit throughout the growing season. Given a long enough season, indeterminate tomatoes can grow to be rather bulky shrubs. They will also require more in the way of staking or caging over the course of the season. So robust is the growth pattern on some indeterminate varieties that ordinary wire cages are often inadequate. You may need to stake these champions with heavy metal rebar stakes or another sturdy support structure.
■ Smaller plant with controlled growth
■ Fruit ripens fairly early in the season
■ Produces a lot of fruit at once; ideal for mass canning
■ Plants usually die by midsummer, freeing space for other plants
■ Requires little staking or caging
■ Excellent for containers
■ Can be integrated into flower beds
■ Large plants with sprawling growth
■ Fruit continues to ripen early to late in the season
■ Fruit continues to produce up until frost
■ Plants require strong support
■ May work for large containers, but in-ground planting is better
■ Well suited for large, dedicated vegetable beds
How Do You Choose?
So how do you decide what's best for your garden?
If you have a large garden and would like heavy crops of tomatoes at certain points in the season, you might want to plan for several determinate varieties. You would look for two basic pieces of information in the plant catalog or on the plant label when making this decision. Look for the word "determinate" or the abbreviation "DET" so you know what you're dealing with. Next, look for the number of days at which the plant will set fruit. To get several nice harvests, try to combine determinate varieties that bear early, mid, and late season. If you are into canning, saucing, or drying your tomatoes, this is probably the best way to go -- a lot of tomatoes all at once.
If you want tomatoes for the course of the season for snacking and adding to salads and sandwiches, it is best to go with indeterminate varieties. Several types of indeterminate tomatoes are very prolific, and a plant or two will more than suffice to meet your needs. Many favorite heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate varieties. When shopping for your tomato plants, you will be looking for "indeterminate" on the label, or the abbreviation "IND" (or, less commonly, "INDET").
If you want to grow in containers, you'll probably want to stick with a few different determinate varieties. They are more well-behaved and better suited to container culture. You can certainly grow indeterminate tomatoes in containers, but be prepared to be vigilant about staking or caging, as well as pruning the suckers to maintain compact growth.
Both indeterminate and determinate tomatoes offer choices for all the various classes of tomatoes. You can find both determinate and indeterminate beefsteak or Roma or cherry tomatoes, for example.
Here are some suggestions for recent tomato varieties with good reviews from horticulturalists and garden authorities:
■ Better Boy: Indeterminate hybrid beefsteak tomato. Produces fruit 10 to 16 oz. in size about 75 days from planting.
■ Big Beef: Indeterminate hybrid beefsteak tomato. Produces fruit 10 to 12 oz. in size about 73 days from planting. Was a 1994 All-America Selections Winner.
■ Big Boy: Indeterminate hybrid tomato. Produces fruit 10 to 16 oz in size about 78 days after planting.
■ Celebrity: Determinate hybrid globe tomato. Produces fruit about 8 to 10 oz. in size about 70 days from planting.
■ Early Girl: Indeterminate hybrid globe tomato. Produces fruit about 8 oz. in size about 50 to 52 days after planting.
■ Juliet: Indeterminate hybrid elongated cherry tomato. Produces 1 oz. fruit about 60 days after planting. Was a 1999 All-America Selections Winner.
■ Sun Suger: Indeterminate hybrid cherry tomato with orange fruit. Produces 1 oz. fruit about 62 days after planting.
taken from https://www.thespruce.com/determinate-and-indeterminate-tomatoes
Determinate vs Indeterminate Tomatoes: How To Distinguish A Determinate From An Indeterminate Tomato
There is nothing quite like a home-grown juicy, sweet ripe tomato. Tomatoes are classified by their growth habit and fall into the categories of determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties. Once you know the characteristics, it’s easy to tell which tomatoes are determinate and which are indeterminate.
Duration and form of growth are the main ways to tell the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. Which type you choose will depend upon the use, available space and the length of your growing season.
How to Distinguish a Determinate from an Indeterminate Tomato
There are so many varieties of tomato, and the choices can be overwhelming. One of the first things to consider is the length of your growing season.
•Determinate tomato varieties tend to ripen early.
•Indeterminate tomato varieties will have a longer growth period and can produce fruit until frost arrives.
The selection of tomato will also depend upon the use you have for the fruit. If you will be canning, a determinate type, which ripens all around the same time, is useful. If you want fruit throughout the growing season, then an indeterminate tomato is best.
Determinate vs. Indeterminate Tomatoes
The form the tomato plant takes is a big clue as to which tomato variety you grow. A comparison of determinate vs indeterminate tomatoes shows one is a vine and one is bushy.
The determinate tomato plant is often grown in a cage or even without support, as it has a more compact shape. The determinate tomato varieties also produce most of their fruit on the terminal end.
The indeterminate tomato varieties have much longer stem growth, which continues to grow until cold weather arrives. They require staking and tying onto a structure to keep the fruit off the ground. This type sets fruit along the stem.
How to Distinguish a Determinate from an Indeterminate Tomato
To learn how to distinguish a determinate from an indeterminate tomato, check the shoot formation.
•The determinate forms stop their shoot production once flowers form on the ends.
•Indeterminate tomato varieties will form flowers along the sides of the shoots but they continue to grow until weather conditions are no longer favorable.
This is the main difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. The formation of new leaves at branch areas is a characteristic of both types of plants and doesn’t help in distinguishing the forms. Just to confuse things a bit, there are also tomato forms that are semi-determinate and fall between the two main varieties in growth habit.
Differences in Care
Determinate tomato varieties produce the early season fruits and are generally set out earlier in the season. Determinate tomatoes are usually smaller and can be grown in containers.
The indeterminate tomato varieties span the sandwich and out of hand types of fruit. Indeterminate types usually need a garden bed or larger space to spread out. In addition, indeterminate plants can be pruned to just a couple of stems. Remove all the suckers  up to the one just below the first flower cluster. This will promote the formation of the stem and flush new flower buds for better fruiting.
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