A Helpful Guide on Types of Tomatoes to Grow

Are you currently looking for information on all the types of tomatoes you can grow in your garden after a successful tomato harvest? One good tomato growing experience and you find yourself hooked. You’re reading and researching all of the tomato varieties and cultivars, wondering how many you grow in a year if you quit your job and devote yourself to growing tomatoes.

Hybrid tomatoes are often conflated with genetically engineered crops. The reality is that hybrid tomatoes are just the result of “mating” two tomatoes on purpose to create a better tomato. Whether the hybrid tomato was bred for taste, looks or disease-resistance, there is nothing wrong with hybrid tomatoes.

Growing heirloom tomatoes has experienced a sudden rush of popularity the past few years bolstered in part by so-called foodies, and vegetable gardening going mainstream. What makes a tomato an heirloom? There is no universally accepted definition of what an heirloom is, but most agree that heirlooms have some age to them and the term is usually reserved for those older than 30 years. All heirloom tomatoes were once hybrid tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes are characterized by being open-pollinated, which means that if you save seeds from heirloom tomatoes you should be able to grow a tomato just like the one you saved the seeds from.


Say you are interested in growing tomatoes for canning and preserving. Determinate tomatoes, sometimes called “bush” tomatoes, generally set fruit that ripens around the same over a period of a couple of weeks. These are the types of tomatoes you want to grow if you want to make your own sauce or sun-dried tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes will generally only get a few feet high and do not need much staking and tomato supports beyond the tomato cages you find at the garden centers.
Indeterminate tomatoes on the other hand, are “vines” and will continue to grow taller and produce tomato fruits until they are killed by cold temperatures. These types of tomatoes usually require staking or tall support structures to keep them right-side up. Indeterminate tomato varieties will continue to grow and set fruit all summer long and into fall until it is killed by a frost or hard freeze come winter.

It depends on what you want to use them for.

Slicer tomatoes are the kinds that will yield big, fat tomatoes that you can use in sandwiches, burgers and serve with sliced mozzarella. The most popular slicer tomatoes are red, but they can range in colors from white to yellow and pink.

Cherry, pear and grape tomatoes are the smaller kinds of tomatoes that you should grow if you want to sprinkle some tomatoes to your salads, on a dish as a garnish, or add to shish kabobs.

Paste tomatoes, as the name would indicate, are good for sauce making. Technically, you can make sauce from any tomato, but what you prize in a juicy salad tomato will produce watered-down tomato paste.

Whether you choose to grow heirloom or hybrid tomatoes isn't as important as choosing the types of tomatoes you’ll grow based on what you will use them for.

If you are not the kind of person who is into canning, determinate tomatoes may not be for you because all the fruits will ripen around the same time leaving you with more tomatoes than you may be able to eat. Indeterminate tomatoes set and ripen over the length of summer, allowing you to pick and harvest when you are ready.

Get the techniques you need to grow healthier heirloom tomatoes every year, with hours of high definition instruction from gardening expert Marie Iannotti by joining her online gardening class Growing Heirloom Tomatoes.
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Polly Zieper Polly Zieper on Jan 02, 2016
    When I first moved to s FL 16 yrs ago someone gave me a hanging tomato plant that didn't need support or staking, it grew down like any hanging plant and produced plenty of small tomatoes. I have never seen a plant like that since. Can you advise?

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