Tomatoes 101 Series | Part 1 | What is the Difference Between Bush and Vine Tomatoes?

Posted in For the Love of Food, Tomatoes 101

Every year our wonderful gardening customers, in the Smiths Falls and Brockville area, come to us for tips on growing the perfect tomato. In today's gardening tip, we discuss the difference between bush and vine tomatoes.

The exquisite flavor of homegrown tomatoes usually puts them at the top of most gardeners’ planting lists and with so many choices of what to grow, on the market, you might be finding it hard to choose.

Let's start with the difference between determinate (bush) and indeterminate (vine) tomato plant varieties.

Bush vs vine tomatoes, which one is best for your needs?
Copyright: karandaev / 123RF Stock Photo

Determinate (bush) or Indeterminate (vine)

Every tomato regardless of size colour or taste falls into one of 2 categories determinate and indeterminate. Most growing tags will have this indicated on the label.

Determinate | These tomatoes are often referred to as bush tomatoes. They are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height (approx. 4 feet). They stop growing when fruit sets on the terminal or top bud, ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a 2 week period). Determinate tomato varieties usually tend to ripen earlier. They are most often hybridized. The bonus of this variety is that they usually require a limited amount of staking and are perfect for container/patio planting. As the crop often ripens all at once these are perfect for people who want to do canning, make sauce or freeze them.

Indeterminate | These tomatoes are often called vine tomatoes. They can grow upwards of 12 feet although 6 feet is more often the norm. They continuously produce blooms and set fruit until the plant dies. These tomatoes require a fair amount of staking. These varieties are most often heirloom and are perfect for people who want tomatoes available all season long. Due to their sheer size, indeterminate tomatoes are best grown in the garden rather than containers.

Next Up: We discuss the varieties of tomatoes you might be interested in growing in your garden.