It’s well known that tomatoes are the crown jewels of any vegetable garden. Bright, juicy, and an eye-catching shade of red, they really stand out like rubies!
Whether you’re an amateur tomato gardener or a professional, chances are you’ve heard of the difference between determinate tomato varieties and indeterminate tomato varieties.
If not, it’s a significant difference to understand before you embark on your tomato-growing journey!
Our Top Picks
Best for Sauce:
Best Disease Resistance:
Best Dwarf Variety:
Red Robin Tomato
Best for Container Gardening:
San Marzano Tomato
The Best Determinate Tomato Varieties
Of the determinate tomato varieties, Celebration has the best all-around quality. It produces a large yield of eight-ounce round fruits.
Celebration is known for its crack resistance, disease resistance, and vigor. Meanwhile, none of its outstanding flavor is compromised.
If you’re craving a sandwich for lunch, these bright red fruits are perfect for slicing fresh!
Summerpick has everything you love about a beefsteak tomato – jumbo fruits, high yields, and unbeatable flavor!
This hybrid is known particularly for its disease resistance and concentrated fruit set. That means you’ll be harvesting a ton of these 12-ounce fruits over a short period.
Summerpick is an ideal canning tomato. What better way to preserve the delicious flavor profile of balanced sugar and acid content!
Best for Sauce
Tachi is a Roma-type tomato ideal for creating flavor-filled pasta sauce. Just like Roma, it has elongated fruit with a block-like shape.
Pick these fruits when they’re green or turning fully ripe. Either way, Tachi has an exceptional shelf-life.
A highlight of this determinate tomato variety is its disease resistance. With Tachi, you can avoid Root Knot Nematode and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus.
Best Shelf Life
Red Snapper Tomato
Red Snapper is a high-yield producer of deep red fruits with good disease resistance. These large to extra-large tomatoes set well in warm climates.
A short, heavy harvest is an attribute of determinate tomato varieties. That’s why the shelf life of this tomato is such a highlight.
Red Snapper will keep longer than many other varieties. This means you’ll have time to use all these delicious fruits before they go bad.
Best Heat Tolerance
Bella Rosa Tomato
Are you situated in a growing zone with an exceptionally warm climate? Give Bella Rosa a try.
This hybrid determinate tomato variety has the quality flavor of an heirloom.
Even while temperatures are ramping up, Bella Rosa will continue to set. It’s an excellent variety to workshop if you’ve had trouble growing heirlooms in the past.
The large, round fruits are resistant to many diseases. This includes Fusarium Wilt, Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus, and Gray Leaf Spot.
Best for Versatility
A jack-of-all-trades, Jolene is great for canning, eating fresh, or making sauces and tomato juice. This variety produces high yields of large to extra-large fruits.
Jolene is another ideal variety for warm climates. You may even find that warm temperatures increase your yield.
The aesthetic quality of Jolene is also hard to beat. The smooth shoulders and clean blossom end make it a beautiful tomato.
Best Disease Resistance
No matter where you grow, Celebrity is a crowd favorite. This is one of the most well-adapted determinate tomato varieties.
Celebrity grows its large to medium fruits in clusters. The fruits are crack resistant and often produce longer than other determinate varieties.
Because it’s so well-adapted, most gardeners will find little-to-no trouble with diseases. It’s particularly resistant to Root Knot Nematode and Fusarium Wilt.
Best Dwarf Variety
Red Robin Tomato
Red Robin is the perfect dwarf determinate tomato variety.
The plant will stay below 12 inches in height, but it still produces a large yield of cherry tomatoes. The one-inch fruits grow in clusters, ready for easy picking.
Try Red Robin in a container or hanging pot. Better yet, try growing this variety indoors for an off-season harvest.
Best for Canning
You may already be familiar with this determinate tomato variety. Roma is one of the best tomatoes for creating delicious Italian sauces.
The compact plant creates a high yield of elongated tomatoes over a short period.
The two-ounce fruits are the perfect size for canning, so you can hang on to them for later. And their low water content makes them easy to turn into a sauce when you’re ready.
Best for Growing in Containers
San Marzano Tomato
San Marzano is the top canning tomato in Italy, where it originated. But you can grow it, too!
This determinate tomato variety produces a heavy yield of bright red fruits, similar to Roma in shape and size. Its low juice, thick walls, and few seeds make it a great contender for sauces.
San Marzano is the perfect addition to your patio. Plant it in a large container for convenient harvesting.
Best for Slicing
Ace 55 Tomatoes
Ace 55 is a delicious heirloom variety with low acidity. The large yield of eight-ounce fruits will mature over a period of one to two weeks.
This juicy, thick-walled tomato is great for slicing fresh. Add Ace 55 to a salad, or layer it into your favorite sandwich. It can also be easily quartered for canning!
Ace 55 is resistant to common tomato diseases, such as Fusarium Wilt and Verticillium Wilt.
Siberian tomatoes have a wonderfully short growing season (60 to 70 days), so you can expect a quick harvest! Known for their exceptional resistance to cold weather (hence the Siberian in its name), they grow a little taller than your average determinate tomato varieties-up to 6 to eight feet tall. Siberian tomatoes are round and palm-sized, coming in at around 5 ounces each.
This reliably round and bright red tomato is known for its firmness and crack resistance and tends to sprawl a little more than you would expect from determinate tomato varieties. It was bred over one hundred years ago from a Globe Tomato and a (now considered extinct) Marvel Tomato. It was one of the first tomato varieties to be successfully bred for resistance against Verticillium and Fusarium wilt.
What are Determinate Tomatoes?
Before we get to my list of the best determinate tomato varieties, let’s first clarify the determinate tomato versus indeterminate tomato situation.
Determinate tomatoes have a specific gene called the “self-pruning” gene. This gene causes the branches of a determinate tomato plant to end in a flower cluster, unlike the indeterminate plant, whose branches end in leaves. That’s why the gene is called “self-pruning”: the flower clusters prevent determinate tomato varieties from growing more than a determined amount, whereas indeterminate tomato plants continue spreading throughout the growing season.
Determinate tomato plants are often referred to as “bush” tomatoes because the self-pruning gene causes them to grow thick and bushy, up to four or five feet tall. Indeterminate plants, on the other hand, grow vine-like branches, and can grow up to 10 or 12 feet tall, or even more!
As far as fruit production goes, determinate tomato varieties put out their fruit all at once, usually for about two weeks. Indeterminate tomatoes produce fewer tomatoes over a longer period throughout the entire harvest season.
That means that indeterminate tomato varieties are great for those growing tomatoes specifically for culinary uses, like making tomato sauce: you need so many tomatoes that a single harvest of indeterminate tomatoes wouldn’t cut it. Determinate tomatoes, however, are perfect, because they produce all their tomatoes in one go!
What does that mean for tomato plant care? Though in general, the guidelines for planting and nurturing tomato plants are consistent for both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes (check out our article on planting tomato seeds), there are two main differences:
- Pots: Determinate tomato plants can thrive in smaller pots, about five gallons in size. Indeterminate tomato plants, as you can imagine, need much bigger containers if you don’t want to plant them directly into the ground.
- Support: While determinate tomatoes don’t necessitate heavy-duty stakes and support systems, it could be helpful to give them a hand once they start bearing fruit, especially if it is weighing the plant down more than normal. Indeterminate tomatoes, though, absolutely need cages or frames to help support their weight, or else they’ll become a damp tangle of vines across your orchard, which attracts pests and diseases.
Determinate Tomato Recipes
As mentioned earlier, determinate tomato varieties are perfect for recipes that call for a lot of tomatoes, like making tomato sauce, paste, or soup. Here are some great recipes I found to inspire your use of tomatoes in the kitchen:
- The Best Italian-American Tomato Sauce Recipe
- Creamy Tomato Soup with Buttery Croutons
- Homemade Tomato Paste
Now You Can Pick Your Own Determinate Tomato Varieties!
Tomatoes are a joy to grow at home. Still, you need to make sure to understand the difference between determinate tomato varieties and indeterminate tomato varieties well before choosing your tomato seeds! There are important genetic differences between the two that call for slightly different care tips.
If you want to grow tomatoes for culinary reasons, check how many tomatoes your recipes call for. Chances are you’ll need a lot all at once, which means your best bet is planting determinate tomato varieties. All in all, I hope this post has inspired you to pick the best determinate variety for you!
Excited about more tomato content? Then visit our tomato page for growing tips, comprehensive guides, and tasty recipes!