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There are basically two types of tomatoes. They are called determinate and indeterminate. Sometimes you will find a tomato billed as semi-determinate but don't worry about that one. A determinate tomato grows to a set or predetermined genetic height, produces all its tomatoes at once and then the plant dies. Sometimes the plant will start dieing out when the fruit is green. This is normal for a determinate type tomato.
Determinate Type Tomatoes:
- Typically grow 3 to 4 feet tall and might carry the word 'bush' in the variety name.
- Tomato seed packs are clearly marked as Determinate or Indeterminate varieties. Sometimes transplants aren't clearly marked. Searching the variety name on the internet will give you the type.
- Produce all their fruit/tomatoes at once and the plant foliage will begin to yellow and die out.
- Varying your determinate type tomatoes between early, mid and late producers will keep tomatoes in your garden over the season. Mix up the maturity dates of your determinate tomatoes.
- Typically requires less staking and caging than indeterminate varieties and make a better choice for container gardening. Managing a 3-4 foot tomato in a container is easier than managing a 6-8 foot tomato.
- Based on the determinate variety - they don't have to have 'suckers' pruned or only need light 'sucker' pruning. You typically want all of the tomato to grow and mature in your determinate varieties as to get the maximum number of tomatoes from the plant.
- Are a good choice if you want to can or make sauces. You will get a mass of tomatoes all at once.
- Often found as hybrids but come in long standing heirloom varieties too.