The Q&A Archives: Determinate vs. Indeterminate

Question: What is the difference between "determinate" and "indeterminate" tomatoes, and which type would be better for container growing?

Answer: Determinate tomatoes have vines that stop growing when they reach a certain length. They then set fruit, most of which ripens within a couple of weeks. Determinates are smaller than indeterminate varieties--important if you have space limitations. They are good choices if you can or freeze tomatoes because most of the fruits will be ready at about the same time. The disadvantage is that you will not have tomatoes ripening all summer long and you may not get your fill! <br><br>Indeterminate tomato plants put on new growth and new blossoms all season long. The tomatoes ripen throughout the growing season--good if you like fresh tomatoes all summer long. Indeterminates should be caged, trellised, or staked, since they get quite large.<br><br>Any variety of tomato will adapt to growing in a 5-gallon (or larger) container; determinate types will be shorter and somewhat easier to manage. (You may still want to stake or cage them.) Just make sure your container has good drainage, and fill it with commercial potting soil rather than garden soil. Place your tomato plant where it will receive full sunshine, and remember that the soil in containers will dry out more quickly than garden soil, so monitor your plants carefully and water as necessary to keep the soil moist.<br>

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