When you come to Backbone Valley Nursery to peruse the many different varieties of tomatoes that we have to offer, you will see them labeled as “determinate” or “indeterminate”. What, exactly, does that mean?

“Determinate” and “Indeterminate” classifications in tomatoes refers to their growth and flowering/fruiting habits, and can help you in your selection for different growing situations.

“Determinate” type tomatoes flower and fruit until the very top of the plant produces flowers, then it stops growing any taller. All the fruit produced up until that time will then continue ripening. Most will ripen with in a two week period of time. Why is this important? Well, if you are interested in canning your tomatoes, you will want lots of ripe tomatoes produced at the same time so that you will be able to can as much as possible. Additionally, if you are limited to growing tomatoes in pots, the “determinate” type tomatoes will remain a more reasonable size for growing on a patio. Few grow more than 4’ tall, and most will require minimal staking.

“Indeterminate” type tomatoes continue to flower, fruit, grow, and repeat until the daytime temperatures are above 90 degrees and nighttime temperatures are consistently 72 degrees. At those temperatures, pollen of most varieties is not viable. “Indeterminate” type tomatoes grow much larger and will require considerable more support than the “determinate” type tomatoes.

This is only one aspect of tomato variety selection that you will need to consider when choosing which varieties to grow! Days to harvest, fruit size, acidity and flavor all play a part in tomato variety selection.