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If you are thinking about growing cherry tomatoes in your garden this year one of the first things you’ll notice is that there are many different varieties you can grow. You might wonder are cherry tomatoes determinate or indeterminate or if it’s really important.
Knowing more about the plants will help you give them the best care so they thrive and produce in your garden.
Are Cherry Tomatoes Determinate Or Indeterminate?
Cherry tomatoes can be determinate or indeterminate plants. This means they can grow to be bush tomatoes or long vines. Within both types, there are many varieties of tomatoes you can grow that come in different colors, shapes, and sizes.
In the case of cherry tomatoes, the difference between determinate and indeterminate means whether or not the plant will grow up tall and form lots of fruits along the main stem. It’s all about the growth habit and fruit production of the plants.
If you have an indeterminate cherry tomato plant, it will continue to grow taller and taller while producing more tomatoes. If you have a determinate cherry tomato plant, it will eventually stop growing taller and produce lots of tomatoes.
Depending on why you are growing tomatoes there are reasons you should grow one type over the other.
What Are Determinate Cherry Tomatoes?
Determinate cherry tomatoes are perfect if you want to have a lot of sweet fresh cherry tomatoes ready to harvest over a short period of time.
Just like full-size tomatoes determinate tomato plants, bush cherry tomatoes will ripen all of their fruit over a few weeks in the summer.
If you want to have a lot of tomatoes to use in salads or other recipes, determine cherry tomato plants are worth trying out. Keep in mind though that they don’t keep growing once they reach a certain height.
Once these tomatoes have ripened the plant will stop producing new fruit.
What Are Indeterminate Cherry Tomatoes?
If you want to have lots of cherry tomatoes to enjoy in salads over the summer then indeterminate or vining cherry tomatoes are a great option.
Indeterminate cherry tomatoes will keep growing as long as the weather is warm in the summer.
They form fruit clusters starting from the bottom of the plant and continuing up as it grows. Their cherry tomatoes will start to ripen from the bottom and the other fruit clusters will slowly continue to ripen up the plant.
Vining cherry tomatoes will keep growing until they are killed off by frost or disease in your garden. This naturally gives you a longer harvest season.
How To Tell If A Cherry Tomato Is Determinate Or Indeterminate
Not sure if your cherry tomato is a bush or vine? Sometimes new gardeners think you can tell by the color of the fruit. But this isn’t true.
Both determinate and indeterminate cherry tomatoes come in red, yellow, and many other colors.
The easiest way to tell is to look at the tag in the plant you bought from your local nursery. Sometimes the information is on the back of the tag. The plant tag should give you the name of the variety, the type of tomato, and basic planting tips.
But occasionally some tags are missing this information. In this case, simply look up the variety name online and read the description from seed catalogs. You will normally find great information about each variety this way.
If you started tomatoes from seed but don’t know their growing type you can check your seed package.
You can also take a look at your seed catalog for the information.
Do Cherry Tomatoes Need Pinching Off?
If you are growing indeterminate varieties of cherry tomatoes in a container you will want to pinch off the vine if they are getting too tall. If you have them growing in the garden and have a good stake or trellis you can let them keep growing as tall as you like.
But they will benefit from pinching out the suckers. This will help to keep the plant less bushy and put the plants energy into growing a longer main vine and producing fruit clusters along it.
If you are planting bush cherry tomatoes then they won’t need pinching. Removing the suckers will actually reduce the amount of fruit you get. Just make sure to keep the tomato well watered in the summer and mulch it to help keep the soil moist and reduce weeds.
Choosing the Variety That Works for You
When you are picking out cherry tomato plants think about how much space you have to grow in and how often you want to harvest.
If you are growing tomatoes in a small space see if you have room for hanging baskets. When you first think of hanging baskets you might think of flowers but indeterminate cherry tomatoes work great too.
As the plants grow they will trail over and keep growing making it easy to pick fruit from the vines.
If you don’t have room for baskets you can grow both vining and bush cherry tomatoes in a large container on your deck or patio.
In your backyard garden, you have more room to plant so it really comes down to how often you want fresh tomatoes. For longer harvest select vining types and for shorter but heavier harvests bush cherry tomatoes will be better.
Both types of tomatoes will need support to grow well in your garden. Bush cherry tomatoes aren’t very heavy plants and normal tomato cages or a small stake will work well for support.
Vining cherry tomatoes on the other hand can grow to be very large plants. Although they won’t be as heavy when covered in fruit as full-size tomatoes are. You will still want a good strong stake or trellis to support them.
Another thing to consider is how long of a growing season you have for gardening. Often determinate cherry tomatoes have shorter days to maturity than vining types of tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes can be either determinate or indeterminate plants and both make great additions to your vegetable garden. When you are trying to decide what type to grow remember to look at how much space you have, what you are using to support the plants, and how often and long you want to harvest cherry tomatoes.
You really can’t go wrong with either type as within both there are many easy to grow varieties that are packed with flavor.
Kim Mills is a homeschooling mom of 6 and lives on an urban homestead in Ontario, Canada. Blogging at Homestead Acres she enjoys sharing tips to help you save money, grow and preserve your own food.