Individual tomato plants grow in height depending on numerous variables, including weather, temperature, watering, soil conditions, feeding, caging or staking, sun exposure and spacing. Seed packets sometimes choose to omit size information given the wide range of heights plants can attain. With that said, tomato plants, based on type, do fall into dwarf, compact, medium (determinate) and tall (indeterminate) sizes. Fruit size bears no connection to the plant’s height, as cherry tomatoes, for example, grow on plants from 1 to 8 feet high.
Dwarf and Compact
Dwarf tomatoes such as Micro Tom grow only 6 to 8 inches tall. Totem can reach 10 to 12 inches tall, and Tiny Tim, 12 to 15 inches. These and other varieties, such as Cherry Gold, Micro Gold and Red Robin, work best for small spaces, such as the balconies of apartment dwellers. Compact tomatoes suitable for larger containers also include Patio, at 2 feet, and Pixie and Red Cherry, which grow under 4 feet.
Determinate tomatoes average 3 to 4 feet tall, sometimes hitting 5 feet. Their genetic makeup determines their height, according to the Purdue University Extension. When they reach their predetermined height, the growing tip produces a cluster of flowers. Fruits appear in a few weeks. Their habit of producing a tomato harvest all at once make them good choices for making sauces and canning, according to Purdue. The determinate vine displays a repeating pattern of two leaves followed by a fruiting cluster, according to Texas A&M’s Agrilife Extension. Examples include Celebrity, Golden Nugget, Early Wonder, Homestead and Small Fry.
The indeterminate types average 6 to 8 feet but can grow up to 10 feet if caged or staked well and even 15 to 20 feet in the tropics, given a long enough growing season. These varieties, the most common in home gardens, according to Cornell University, will continue to grow and produce flowers and fruit all season until killed by frost. The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service notes that indeterminate tomatoes grow taller through the summer because the stem makes more leaves, not just flowers and fruit. Indeterminates allow you to spread out the harvest over a longer period of time and work well for those who want slicing tomatoes for salads. An indeterminate vine features a repeating pattern of three or four leaves, then a blossom cluster, according to Texas A&M. Older varieties, such as Better Boy, Beefmaster, Early Girl and Brandywine, are mostly indeterminate.
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