Indeterminate, or vining, tomatoes are rambling plants that have the potential to reach inspiring heights, but even if you get a short variety, you will be rewarded with an entire season of fresh, delicious tomatoes.
But don’t let the size and need for trellising intimidate you, since some indeterminant tomatoes are bred for compact growing on a short vine.
Some of the most popular tomatoes, such as many beefsteak, Roma, and cherry tomatoes are indeterminant, and with literally thousands of varieties to choose from, it is hard to know where to start.
That’s why we’ve put together the perfect guide that lays it all down and will help you find the right type indeterminate tomatoes for you to try!
What are Indeterminate Tomatoes
The definition of “indeterminate” is undefinable and indefinite, and this is precisely what you get when you grow an indeterminate tomato.
Indeterminate tomato is a fancy way of saying tomatoes that grow as a vine, and the main stem will branch out into a tangle of foliage that gives lots of energy to a mass of tomatoes.
The plants will grow long and require sturdy trellising to keep them from sprawling on the ground.
Tomatoes originated as vines and were collected for their tiny green berries by ancient Peruvians until the Aztecs domesticated them.
Determinate tomatoes, or bush varieties, were only introduced in the early 1900s. However, indeterminate tomatoes, which are characterized by their towering vines, remain popular among growers today.
Why Grow Indeterminate Tomatoes
Indeterminate tomatoes have a lot of benefits for the home garden:
How Tall Do Indeterminate Tomatoes Grow?
The final height of your indeterminate tomatoes will depend significantly on your growing conditions, climate, soil type, fertility, and the variety you are growing. Still, it is not uncommon for the vines to reach an impressive 3 to 4 meters (10-12 ft).
Most varieties are bred to reach a more manageable, though still impressive, height of 1.5 to 2 meters (5-7 ft).
But height is not always a defining factor of indeterminate tomatoes. For example, many dwarf tomatoes are bred to be indeterminate.
This means they will be trailing vines with branching stems that require staking but might only mature under a meter (3 feet) tall.
Check the seed packet for the specific vine length of the variety you are growing.
Of course, you can always prune indeterminate tomatoes for improved growth and yield.
Difference Between Indeterminate And Determinate
The most effective technique to determine your growing variety is to read the seed packet or plant tag. They’ll say indeterminate or Indet on them.
Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the plants are fully developed to find out.
At a young age, indeterminate and determinate tomatoes are almost indistinguishable, but there are easy ways to tell the difference as they grow:
- The seeds and emerging seedlings of indeterminate and determinate look the same until they are about 30 cm (12 inches) high, at which point the indeterminate seedlings will become leggier and “scragglier” than their counterparts.
- If the plant reaches a mature height of 1m to 1.5m (3-5 ft) and is a stocky, bushier plant, then it is determinate.
- Determinate tomatoes usually produce a terminal flower cluster at the top of the plant when it reaches its max height, whereas indeterminate does not.
Semi-determinate, also called bushy indeterminate, are tomatoes that are a mix of indeterminate and determinate varieties. They are generally:
Some popular semi-determinate varieties include Ararat Flame, Grappoli d’Inverno, Gill’s All Purpose, Marmande, Perfect Rogue, Red Centiflor, and Indigo Rose.
28 Incredible Indeterminate Tomato Varieties
Indeterminate tomatoes can be beefsteak, Roma, heritage, cherry, or any other type. Indeterminate tomatoes can either be hybrid or open-pollinated.
Whichever type of tomato you want to grow, here are the finest varieties to bring flavor and diversity into your garden:
*Note: all days to maturity are listed from transplant. Add another 42 to 56 days for growing from germination.
Salad Indeterminate Tomatoes
Salad tomatoes, sometimes called garden or slicing tomatoes, are your perfect-eat-fresh tomato. Slice them up in a sandwich or chop them into a salad.
1: Early Girl
Hybrid (57 days): As the name implies, these are one of the earliest tomatoes you can grow and will produce throughout the year.
They produce medium-sized fruit (about 150 grams each) with a good flavor and texture for fresh eating. Early maturation is beneficial if your garden suffers from Late Blight.
2: Green Zebra
Hybrid (75 days): A green and yellow striped tomato, they have a zippy flavor. Harvest on time is too early, and they are bitter and mealy if overmature. A beautiful addition to the garden and plate.
3: Red Zebra
OP (93 days): If you have a long growing season, this is the tomato to try. Like the Green Zebra, this slightly sour tomato is red with yellow stripes.
4: Early Cascade
OP (55 days): A great tomato for cool-season gardeners. Great flavor and texture for fresh eating, but it also cooks and cans well.
5: Golden Rave
Hybrid (70 days): A yellow variety on fairly short vines that grow in most climates is good for eating fresh and cooking.
6: Old German
OP (80 days): This heirloom salad variety from the 1800s was developed by Mennonite communities in Virginia and produced 2.5m to 3m (8-10ft) vines with lots of beautiful, brightly colored red-gold tomatoes.
OP (75 days): Produced in England in the early 1900s, Moneymakers have a fairly short vine (1.5m to 1.8m). They are a medium-sized tomato with a classic tomato flavor.
Beefsteak Indeterminate Tomatoes Varieties
Beefsteak tomatoes are usually huge yet dense tomatoes that are good for eating or cooking. The most giant tomato in the world was a beefsteak weighing in at an impressive 4.896 kg (10 lb 12.7 oz), and yes, it was indeterminant!
OP (78 days): Probably the most popular beefsteak tomato, Brandywine tomatoes are very large (can be over 450g) with a good flavor and firm texture.
9: Yellow Brandywine
OP (78 days): A yellow variety of the popular red Brandywine.
Hybrid (80 days): These tomatoes do well in a variety of climates and greenhouses or open fields. Good flavour, large fruits (200g) dark colour, and firm texture.
OP (78 days): An excellent flavor but can be fairly soft and mealy.
12: Mortgage Lifter
(83 to 90 days): The beefsteak tomato is one of the largest tomatoes, typically weighing over 1 kg (2lbs). These tomatoes require deep, fertile soil to produce their unique large fruits.
13: Cherokee Purple
OP (72 days): A really great flavor with a rich red and deep purple color that grows on relatively short vines.
14: Cherokee Green
OP (72 days): Bred from the popular Cherokee purple, this is often praised as the best-tasting green tomato with slight acidic addition to a classic tomato flavor.
15: Black Krim
OP (80 days): Taking the extra time to grow these heirloom beefsteak tomatoes is worth it for the large red tomatoes with green accents and superb flavor. Vines average 1.8 meters (6ft).
Roma (Plum) Indeterminate Tomatoes
Roma tomatoes are generally oblong-shaped tomatoes, known for their meaty texture that is ideal for cooking into sauces, salsas, or turning into a paste. In fact, Roma tomatoes are sometimes called paste tomatoes.
Hybrid (85 days): Ideal for cooking and sauces, these have a very meaty texture and are suited to many different growing conditions.
17: Amish Paste
OP (70 to 75 days): This heirloom is from the 1800s that produces both ox heart and plum-shaped fruit. Really great for making a thick, flavourful paste.
Hybrid (75 days): What better tomato than one developed in the heart of tomato country: Italy! Great flavor and can be ripened on the vine or harvested with a green shoulder and ripened indoors.
19: San Marzano
OP (78 to 85 days): Another Italian classic, this has an exceptional flavor. It keeps very well and is great for sauces and canning.
20: Orange Banana
OP (52 days): A visually appealing oblong yellow tomato, they make great sauces.
Cherry Indeterminate Tomatoes Varieties
Cherry tomatoes result in clusters of numerous tiny, bite-size tomatoes. They are frequently delicious and nutritious, making them ideal for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Try giving your youngsters a sweet, vine-ripened cherry tomato if they have difficulty consuming tomatoes.
21: Sweet Million
Hybrid (60-65 days): The Sweet Million grows a lot of great 2-3cm (1 inch) round cherries on lengthy trusses. They’re incredibly delicious and adaptable to a wide range of environments.
Sungold tomatoes are unique for their flavor, early yields, and ability to grow tall– the tallest tomato plant on record reportedly grew to an impressive 19.8 meters (65 feet).
23: Bumble Bee
OP (70 days): For a lovely and delicious tomato, try Red-Vines Peaches. These streaked pink, purple, or orange tomatoes are extremely attractive. This long, robust vine requires trellising.
OP (50 to 80 days): It’s always fantastic for a northern gardener to discover a great season tomato like the Sweetie, since tomatoes thrive in heat. All year, produce clusters of small, delicious cherry tomatoes.
25: Yellow Mini
Hybrid (57 days): Another yellow cherry tomato; these are very sweet and resistant to splitting.
26: Supersweet 100
Hybrid (60 days): This vine is a high producer of large sweet cherry clusters.
Unique Indeterminate Tomatoes
Some tomatoes are so unique that they don’t fit into any classification. Here are a few amazing ones:
27: Orange Accordion Tomato
OP (80 days): Words cannot describe this magnificent tomato, but the closest would be a large, edible accordion. A beautiful addition to any garden.
28: Pink Fang
OP: While truly a paste tomato, these stand in their own category as they look like the long (15cm) teeth of a saber-tooth tiger. A great-tasting tomato, Pink Fang makes a perfect paste or sauce.
One of the most fun parts of gardening is choosing your seeds, and I hope this has given you a few new varieties to try next year.
Of course, this list is not completely comprehensive. With over 15,000 indeterminant and determinate varieties of tomatoes to choose from, you are bound to find the tomato that is right for your garden and your palette.
Q: Are indeterminate and vining tomatoes the same thing?
A: Yes, indeterminate is just a fancy way of saying a tomato that grows into a long vine.
Q: Do all indeterminant tomatoes grow really tall vines?
A: Not necessarily. While many indeterminate tomatoes have impressively long vines, some of them can be relatively short. Indeterminant is more about how they grow rather than how big they grow.
Q: Are heritage tomatoes indeterminate?
A: A heritage tomato can be either indeterminate or determinate. Heritage means a variety that is more than 50 years old, so some of the newer varieties can be determinant. However, the best traditional varieties that our ancestors grew up with are indeterminate.
Q: Can Dwarf tomatoes be indeterminant?
A: Yes, some varieties of dwarf tomatoes are indeterminant, and some are bushy determinants.
Q: Are Roma tomatoes indeterminate?
A: Roma tomatoes can be either determinate or indeterminate, depending on the variety.
Q: Are beefsteak tomatoes indeterminate?
A: Beefsteak tomatoes can be either indeterminate or determinant.
Q: Are cherry tomatoes indeterminate or determinant?
A: While most cherry tomatoes are indeterminate, a few bush varieties are also available.
Q: Will indeterminate tomatoes die every year?
A: Most people grow tomatoes annually; however, under the right conditions, indeterminant tomatoes will continue to grow and produce for several years.
Cameron Jenkins moved from the city to a small farm where he lives with his wife and daughters. The farm is divided between the garden, pastures, hayfields, the start of an orchard, and 13 times as many pets as people. Their farm vision is to grow produce and raise animals in unison with nature. When Cameron is not farming (or writing about it) he spends his time playing with his children, reading, cooking, and napping with his pet pig.