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How to Grow Indeterminate Tomatoes

By Sommer Leigh ; Updated September 21, 2017
Cage indeterminate tomatoes for the best results.
tomato image by YN from Fotolia.com

Indeterminate tomatoes, a vining tomato type, grow and produce fruit all season until killed by frost. Determinate varieties, on the other hand, produce one large crop and die back. Indeterminate types can grow up to 10 feet tall, although 6 feet is a more typical height in home gardens. This type of tomato requires a little more care as its large growth size means it can grow out of control and take over the entire garden.

Select indeterminate tomato plants from a reputable nursery or garden center. Look for plants less than 6 inches with upright, sturdy stems and bright green leaves, advises the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

Till the garden with a garden rake or rototiller. Push the tines into the soil and loosen the soil to a depth of 8 inches. Till in rows until completely loosened throughout the garden area.

Add a 1-inch layer of compost to the top of the soil in the garden area. Rake or rototill the compost into the soil. Work in the compost throughout the entire garden.

Spray the soil with a hose after tilling. Water until the soil appears moist.

Dig holes with the shovel deep enough for the indeterminate tomato plants. Make holes deep enough to spread the roots of the plant and to cover its base. Read plant tags to determine how far apart to space the holes.

Set each plant in a hole. Spread out the roots of the plant in the soil and pack the soil firmly on top of the roots and up to the base of the plant, just under its first two leaves.

Set a strong tomato cage around each plant. Press the stakes of the cage into the soil until it feels secure.

Water the plants daily, yet skip days when the soil still feels moist. Apply a fertilizer formulated for tomatoes, available from garden centers, if desired. Follow the fertilizer directions to decide when to fertilize and how to apply.

Tie the plant branches to the cage with a piece of string as it grows. Pinch off the suckers, the small branches that form between a branch and the main stem, from the plant when it has grown 1 to 2 feet tall. Pinch off the sucker by hand.


Things You Will Need

  • Rake or rototiller
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Tomato cage
  • Fertilizer
  • String


  • Pruning the suckers from the plants concentrates plant growth on the fruit instead of the foliage, according to the Michigan Gardener.

About the Author


Sommer Leigh has produced home, garden, family and health content since 1997 for such nationally known publications as "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Midwest Living," "Healthy Kids" and "American Baby." Leigh also owns a Web-consulting business and writes for several Internet publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in information technology and Web management from the University of Phoenix.