Find out how tomato varieties are classified and learn the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties.
To an enthusiastic home gardener, it might seem overwhelming to know that there are over 10,000 varieties of tomatoes.
To think that the history of tomatoes can be followed back to the early American Indian people known as the Aztecs around 500 A.D. Our modern day tomato is a far resemblance to the wild tomato that it originated from in the Andes Mountains of Peru, South America.
Is it a fruit or a vegetable? According to modern day botanists the tomato is a definitely a fruit. Until the late 1800’s the tomato was classified as a fruit. This was done to avoid taxation. Where, as horticulturists would debate that tomatoes are a vegetable.
After a Supreme Court ruling in the late 1800’s the tomato had been deemed like a vegetable and was taxed accordingly. At one time in Europe, it was thought of as being poisonous because of it’s appearance, which was similar, to that of the wolf peach.
Simply said, the tomato is a fruit but for most culinary purposes, it’s considered a vegetable.
For most home gardening purposes, tomatoes can be easily categorized into 2 different classifications.
Heirloom and Hybrid Tomato Varieties
Heirloom Tomato Varieties
Heirloom tomato varieties are open pollinated plants. This means if you save the seeds from the heirloom tomato after harvesting, and prepare them to be planted the next year, you will be able to grow the same plant.
Seeds saved from an heirloom tomato plant will stay true to that variety. This means that, the flavor, form, and color of an heirloom tomato can be duplicated through it’s seeds. These are the most flavorful.
Hybrid Tomato Varieties
Hybrid tomato varieties are the result of two different varieties or multiple parents being crossed. Hybrid tomato seeds do not stay true to their parent plant. If you save the tomato seeds the hybrid plant and save the seeds and plant them the next year, you will not have the same plant as the seeds came from. They are bred for commercial growers, for uniformity and disease resistance, and so that they can withstand mechanical harvesting. But in doing this they lack the flavor of an heirloom tomato.
Whatever, your choice is, Heirloom or Hybrid varieties you need to pick the the tomato variety that is best suited to your growing environment.
Determinate Tomato Varieties and Indeterminate Tomato Varieties
Determinate Tomato Varieties
Determinate plants are bush type, which set their fruit within a reasonably short length of time and do not need to be pruned. They grow well in cages and are a favorite for container gardeners.
Indeterminate Tomato Varieties
Indeterminate or vine (cordon) plants are tall growing, and they produce fruit throughout the growing season and need to be staked and pruned.