Planting the right type of tomato plant can make the difference between tomato growing success and failure. There are hundreds of varieties of tomato plants available for planting. These varieties are divided into different tomato types. What designates a type of tomato plant is the size of the fruit and how the fruit is commonly used. For example, one type of tomato is best used for cooking, while another type makes a better tomato for slicing and eating fresh.
Beefsteak tomatoes are the largest type of tomato and can weigh a pound or more. They are known for their good taste and are most often sliced and eaten fresh. Examples of beefsteak tomatoes are the varieties known as Brandywine, Beefmaster and Mortgage Lifter. Since beefsteak tomatoes types produce large fruit, the plants need to be staked or supported on a trellis so the fruit cannot contact the ground, where it will rot. They can be grown in average garden soil in full sun, which means an area that receives at least six hours of sun each day.
Globe tomatoes are the type most often seen in grocery stores. They are medium-sized tomatoes that are considered an "all-purpose" tomato, meaning they can sliced and eaten fresh or used in cooking. Examples of globe tomatoes are the varieties known as Celebrity, Duke and Fantastik. Some globe tomato plants are determinate, which means they grow into a bush rather than a vine and are appropriate for growing in a pot on the patio if the six hour a day sun requirement is fulfilled. Other varieties are indeterminate, which are tomato plants that grow into a vine and produce tomatoes over a longer period during the growing season. If planting in a pot on the patio, plant determinate varieties of globe tomatoes in regular potting soil and provide an even level of moisture to the soil.
Plum tomatoes, or paste tomatoes, are the type of tomato plant that produces numerous small to medium-sized tomatoes. The tomatoes are elongated; some have a point on the end opposite the end that is attached to the plant, or the bottom end. Plum tomatoes are most often used in cooking and making tomato paste and sauces. Examples of plum tomatoes are the varieties known as Roma, Bellstar and Rio Grande. Generally, plum tomatoes are bush tomatoes, or determinate, and can be grown without support in a pot on a patio if the sun requirements are fulfilled.
Cherry tomatoes plants produce many small tomatoes in clusters on tall vining plants. Cherry tomatoes are most often eaten fresh in salads and as a nutritious snack. Examples of cherry tomatoes are the varieties known as Husky Cherry Red, Porter and Tommy Toe. Cherry tomatoes can be indeterminate, which means they grow into a long vine and need to be trellised because of their large size. However, some varieties of cherry tomatoes are bush types, or determinate, so they can be grown in a pot on a patio.