How do I identify my tomato plants?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

To identify tomato plants, one important factor to consider is the arrangement of the leaves on the stem. Determinate tomato varieties typically have leaves that are closer together on the stem, giving them a bushier appearance. On the other hand, indeterminate tomato varieties have leaves that are spaced out more, resembling vines.

When examining your tomato plant, take a closer look at the stem and observe the distance between each set of leaves. If the leaves are tightly packed and almost overlapping, it is likely a determinate variety. These types of tomatoes tend to have a more compact growth habit and are often used for container gardening or in smaller spaces.

In contrast, if you notice that the leaves are spaced out along the stem, with more noticeable gaps between each set, then you are likely dealing with an indeterminate variety. Indeterminate tomatoes tend to have a more sprawling growth habit and can be trained to grow on trellises or supports.

It’s worth noting that leaf arrangement is just one aspect to consider when identifying tomato plants. Other characteristics such as fruit size, shape, and color, as well as overall plant height and growth habit, can also provide clues about the variety you are dealing with.

To further assist you in identifying your tomato plants, here are some additional signs to look out for:

1. Fruit Size and Shape: Different tomato varieties produce fruits of varying sizes and shapes. Some may have small cherry-sized fruits, while others produce large beefsteak tomatoes or plum-shaped varieties. Take note of the size and shape of the tomatoes growing on your plant.

2. Leaf Shape: Tomato plant leaves can vary in shape, ranging from oval to lance-shaped. Some varieties may have more serrated or lobed leaf edges, while others have smoother margins. Pay attention to the overall shape and characteristics of the leaves.

3. Plant Height and Growth Habit: Determinate tomato plants typically have a more compact growth habit, reaching a predetermined height and stopping further growth. Indeterminate varieties, on the other hand, continue to grow and can become quite tall if not pruned or supported. Consider the height and overall growth pattern of your tomato plant.

4. Flower Clusters: Tomato plants produce flowers that eventually develop into fruits. The arrangement and size of the flower clusters can vary between different tomato varieties. Some may have larger clusters of flowers, while others produce smaller clusters. Observe the size and arrangement of the flowers on your plant.

By carefully observing these characteristics, including leaf arrangement, fruit size and shape, leaf shape, plant height and growth habit, and flower clusters, you can gain a better understanding of the type of tomato plant you have. This knowledge can be helpful in determining the best care and support methods for your plants and in predicting their fruiting behavior.