Are Roma Tomatoes Determinate or Indeterminate? How to Tell

Roma tomatoes also known as plum tomatoes are short plants that produce small red fruits that are oblong in shape. The fruits are meaty inside with fewer seeds which makes them ideal for making sauces, paste, and canning. So, are Roma tomatoes determinate or indeterminate?

Roma tomatoes are typically determinate tomatoes. They are bushy, short in height, and require little less staking or caging. These tomatoes produce all of their fruit at once, over a period of a few weeks.

You’ll tell if a tomato plant is determinate or indeterminate by observing growth habits like height, the structure of the leaves, and fruit production. Determinate tomato varieties are small in size and are ideal for limited garden space. However, indeterminate are best if you want to enjoy fruits throughout the season.

The table below provides a summary of the comparison between determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties.

Determinate tomato plantsIndeterminate tomato plants
They grow in sprawling vines that can reach a maximum height of 10 feet or more. They continue to grow and produce flowers throughout the season.  Continues to grow and produce new suckers throughout the growing season and hence they are referred to as vining tomatoes.  
Are smaller in size and can only grow to a maximum height of approximately 4 to 5 feet tall. Due to their size, they are suitable for growing in a limited space or containers.  They require less staking or caging to support the plant and the weight of the fruits.
They require a lot of staking and trellising to prevent the plant from toppling to the ground due to its height and the weight of fruits.  Produces larger clusters of fruits
Fruit-bearing and ripening normally occur in one flush over a short time. Ripening of all the fruits normally happens within 2 weeks.  Produces flowers and fruits at different growing stages throughout the season.  
Produces many but smaller fruitsProduces larger cluster of fruits

Are Roma tomatoes determinate or indeterminate?

Roma tomatoes are determinate, they produce their flowers in one set and the fruits become ripe almost at a similar time. The plant is small in size and can grow to a maximum height of 4 to 5 feet tall. They are preferred by many gardeners due to their small size. They are easy to care for and maintain.

Roma tomatoes require the same growing conditions as other tomato varieties. According to the University Of Arizona College Of Agriculture, it takes 100 to 120 days to harvest fruits if you are growing Roma tomatoes from seed to maturity. After setting the fruits the plant loses vigor.

How to tell determinate from indeterminate tomatoes

When purchasing tomato seeds or seedlings, you will often see a label on the packet or on the plant indicating ‘’determinate’’ or ‘’indeterminate’’. The two terms are simply referring to the growth characteristics of the tomato plant. Determinate means bush growth while indeterminate means vining growth.

These two can be differentiated by the following features:

1. Height of mature tomato plant

The size of mature tomato plants can help to determine whether it is determinate or indeterminate. If the plant is fairly short or less than 5 feet tall then it is probably a determinate variety. On the other hand, if the tomato plant is more than 10 feet tall, it’s probably an indeterminate variety.

2. Shoot and flowers growth

Determinate tomatoes can be distinguished from indeterminate by paying close attention to the shoot formation. Determinate tomatoes will stop producing the shoot once the flowers form at the end. On the other hand, indeterminate varieties will form flowers and fruits along the sides of the shoots. The shoot continues to grow until when the weather conditions become unfavorable.

3. The structure of leaves

The appearance of the leaves on your tomato plant also distinguishes whether it is determinate or indeterminate. For determinate tomato varieties, the leaves are commonly close together on the stem and hence making the plant bushy. On the other hand, indeterminate varieties have leaves that are well-spaced out.

4. Fruit production

Determinate tomatoes produce flowers at once and the fruits become ripe almost at a similar time. All the fruits become ready for harvesting within a period of 2 to 3 weeks. On the other hand, indeterminate variety will continue producing flowers throughout the season until the fall of the first frost.

5. Tag on seedlings or seed packet

When purchasing tomato seeds or seedlings from a plant store, make sure to check the tag on the plant or on the packet to determine if it is determinate or indeterminate. It is important to understand the kind of variety you are growing. It helps to gauge the weather and maintenance requirements.

Final Thoughts

Both determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties have their advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on how you are planning to use the tomatoes and the growing season. If you want thick and meaty tomatoes for making sauces, then you can go for a determinate variety like Roma. On the other hand, if you want fresh tomatoes throughout the season, you can go for an indeterminate variety.

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