Types Of Tomatoes
Two Types Of Tomatoes Or Many Types Of Tomatoes?
Ask how many types of tomatoes there are, and you're apt to get several different answers. We tend to use the words types, kinds, categories, and varieties somewhat interchangeably. Even a type, kind, or category of tomato may go by more than one name. If you want one of each type of tomato in your garden you could end up with two plants at the one extreme, or perhaps hundreds at the other extreme, if by types you mean varieties or different cultivars.
Most, though certainly not all, horticulturists will tell you there are two basic types of tomatoes. There is the determinate type and the indeterminate type. All tomato plants, regardless of kind, category, or variety, will fall under one of these two types.
Determinate Tomatoes - Determinate tomato plants are in one sense of the word predictable. One might even call them conformist. A determinate tomato plant grows to a certain size, produces fruit, which also may attain a certain size, and then stops yielding fruit. Determinate tomato plants will form a flower cluster at the top of the plant when a certain height is reached, and will not grow taller than the height of that cluster. Determinate types of tomatoes generally ripen earlier in the season than the other (indeterminate) type, so successive plantings will usually be needed if one expects to harvest tomatoes throughout the summer.
Indeterminate Tomatoes - Indeterminate tomato plants will usually continue to grow throughout the growing season, and in some instances may even need to be cut back. The tend to grow laterally as well as upwards, and the flowers form on lateral buds, such that not only branches may grow longer but the plant itself will keep growing taller. a Indeterminate types of tomatoes are the kind most gardeners grow, and also the kind which require staking or the use of tomato cages as the vines tend to grow every which way, and the tomatoes have a tendency to rest on the ground if not propped up. Indeterminate types of tomatoes generally continue to set fruit and blossoms all summer, and may produce until the first killing frost.
Dwarf tomato plants, paste tomato plants, yellow tomato plants, early or late tomato plants - and there are more. Each of these will either fall into one of the two types of tomatoes. Some dwarf tomato plants are indeterminate. While the fruit is small and rather uniform in size, the plant may grow fairly tall or branch out, depending upon the variety. Other dwarf tomato varieties are determinate, growing to a specific height, usually not too high, and are truly dwarf plants.
Categories Of Tomatoes - Tomatoes can be placed in several categories, such as early, main-crop, extra large, paste types, small fruited, dwarfs, and colored. Some of the better known varieties in each category and the type of plant they are, are as follows:
In the early tomato category, Early Cascade, Early Girl, Quick Pick and Champion are indeterminate, while Mountain Spring and Sub Arctic Plenty are determinate types. As far as main crop tomatoes are concerned, Fantastic, Better Boy, and Burpee's Big Girl are indeterminate, while Celebrity, Mountain Pride, and Mountain Delight are determinate. The large or beefsteak tomatoes, such as Supersteak and Beefmaster are generally indeterminate, while the pasta tomatoes, which include the Roma, and Viva Italia are generally determinate.
The dwarf tomatoes are for the most part determinate, including the Tiny Tim, Red Robin, and the Pixie Hybrid II. Many of the small fruited, but not dwarf tomato plants are on the other hand indeterminate and include Super Sweet, and Large Red Cherry, although Mountain Belle is determinate. The colored varieties, with their yellow, pink, or white fruits fall in either camp.
If you have a concern about which of the types of tomatoes you should plant, the type chosen is more apt to be determined by your preferences in growing habit and harvest time, than in terms of flavor. If flavor is the main concern, the type chosen may be irrelevant.