How to Choose a Tomato Plant


Choosing the right type of tomatoes for your garden is important if you want to successfully grow these plants. There are many factors to keep in mind. They include your available garden space, the length of your summer and the amount of time you can dedicate to your tomatoes. You can either plant seeds or purchase seedlings from a garden center.

Step 1

Decide whether you will plant in a garden bed or a container. Choose dwarf or container varieties such as Small Fry for container gardens. Choose a variety with small fruit, such as Tiny Tim, for hanging baskets.

Step 2

Determine the type of support system you will use in a traditional garden bed. You can stake both determinate and indeterminate tomato plants, but cages are best for determinate plants. Determinate tomatoes are bushy and grow only about 4 feet high, while indeterminate tomatoes are more vinelike and grow 6 feet or higher.

Step 3

Pick a variety that grows well in your area. Call your county or university extension office for advice on tomato plants that are suited to your climate and offer disease resistance to common pests in your area. Buy seedlings from local suppliers, as these are more likely to thrive in your region.

Step 4

Decide whether you want a hybrid or heirloom tomato. Choose a heirloom or open-pollinated tomato if you want to save seed from the plants, but be aware that these may not produce as many fruits or may not offer adequate disease-resistance. Choose a hybrid if you have no desire to save the seeds and want a plant that offers specific benefits, such as high disease resistance or high yield.

Step 5

Read the plant labels for the days-to-harvest information. Choose varieties with a short maturation time, such as Early Cascade, if you have short summers. Choose longer-season plants, such as Fantastic, if you have a long summer and mild fall.

Step 6

Plant tomatoes that produce fruit that matches your desired use. Some varieties are better for canning, while others are best eaten fresh. Dona, for example, is usually grown for canning or salsa-making, while Brandywine tomatoes are best eaten raw.


  • Washington State Extension: Tomato Varieties
Keywords: choosing a tomato plant, tomato varieties, growing tomatoes

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.