What types of tomatoes to grow in your garden?

Updated: October 29, 2022

It’s hard to determine the suitable tomato variety for your garden in different types and thousands of combinations.

If you are a beginner gardener, you may become crazy facing this puzzle. However, you can only solve it after knowing the basics.

Go to the local nursery or gardening store. Nursery workers may recommend some determinate hybrid tomato varieties as new gardeners.

So you need to be concerned about the ABC of tomato varieties and clarify your demand to get the correct information to pick the suitable types of tomatoes for your garden.

Types of Tomatoes

We can classify all the tomato varieties into two major types following their genetic line and growing habit. Based on genetic line, tomatoes can be classified into heirloom and hybrid varieties. On the other hand, according to growing habits, tomatoes can be classified into determinate and indeterminate varieties.

The other tomato varieties, including Cherry, Roma, Beefsteak, and other known or unknown varieties, are classified under these major types of tomatoes.

Another way to choose tomato varieties is based on their shape and personal preferences.

types of tomatoes, tomato varieties

Here are the details on the tomato varieties insights from the infographic:

1.  Classify According to Tomato’s Genetic Line

Heirloom (Open-pollinated):

Heirloom seeds are often called open-pollinated or non-hybrid seeds.

This is because they are reproducible, whose seeds produce more plants and maintain the same quality as parent plants.

Heirloom tomatoes pollinate naturally and have been around for at least fifty to a hundred years.

Pros and Cons:

Thousands of varieties and flavorVulnerable to diseases and pests
Reproducible seedsSeeds are not well-rounded comparing hybrid seeds
Seeds are cheaper than hybridLess production than hybrid

Hybrid (Cross-pollinated):

Hybrid seeds are also called regular or cross-pollinated seeds.

Two specific varieties carefully pollinate them through the seed companies.

As a result, they cannot produce seeds from parent plants twice.

Pros and Cons:

Higher productionExpensive seeds
Disease resistantYou need to buy seeds every season
Increases return on investNot making the same product as the previous year
Shorter growth habitLimited Varieties

2. Classify According to Tomato’s Growing Habit

Determinate (Bush) varieties:

Determinate tomato varieties are often called bush varieties.

Usually, determinate tomato plants become three to four feet tall and hold flowers at the end of their stalks.

They produce and set off earlier in the season, and the fruits grow and ripen all at once.

It takes around four to six-week period to grow and mature bush varieties.

Determinate tomato varieties also are classified into several types:

  • Early-Season Types:

Best suitable for the northern climate. They perform well in cooler conditions and can’t tolerate long hours of sunlight. Typically mature within 45 to 60 days.

  •  Main-Season Types:

Produce high yields and mature within 70-80 days. Perform well in warmer conditions, and plants mature from mid to late season. Often produce large and meaty fruit.

  •  Paste Types:

Best used for preserving tomatoes through canned or making sauces. They become mature within 70-80 days. These tomato varieties contain fewer seeds and much meat.

  • Dwarf Types:

They are mainly used for container gardening. Fruits are small in size, around one or 2-inch and plants become tall at best 2 feet. The maturity time frame is 45-72 days, depending on the varieties.

Pros and Cons:

Tend to ripen earlyCan’t use round the year without preserving
Fruits ripen all at oncePreserving bulk production at a time is challenging for the home gardener
The short length of the growth periodYou can’t get fresh tomatoes around the year
Plants are small in size and space-savingNeed to learn how to preserve tomatoes

Indeterminate (Vine) Varieties:

Indeterminate tomato varieties are also known as vining tomatoes. They continue growing throughout the season and producing fruits until frost kills them. These tomato varieties provide a slow and steady supply of fruits around the season.

Vining tomato varieties take a long time to grow, and they become tall around 6- 10 feet tall. Therefore, staking and caging are essential for getting a better yield for indeterminate varieties. Still, you can also grow them upside down as a hanging vine.

Pros and Cons:

Supply fresh tomatoes season-longNot suitable for the shorter growing season
Best ideal for salad and daily dishesRequire staking or caging for support
Wide varietiesRequired broad space
Flavorful tomatoes

Semi-Determinate Varieties:

These varieties grow taller than determinate varieties but shorter than indeterminate varieties. The plant’s height reaches 3-6 feet on average. They produce fruits for a more extended period and are not as bushy as determinate tomato varieties but have less sprawl.

It will be right if we call them semi-indeterminate varieties.

Classify Tomato Varieties According to Shape

Shape matters for tomatoes. Thousands of tomato varieties can also be classified by shape, whether heirloom, hybrid, bush, or vine tomatoes.

Typically, you can find the following tomato varieties based on shape:

  • Globe Tomatoes:

They are round in shape, medium in size, and mainly cultivated commercially. Also known as slicing tomato due to its extensive uses in salads, sandwiches, and burgers.

  • Beefsteak Tomatoes:

The larger fruit with a flattened shape. They can weigh, on average, around 7 oz. – 35 oz.

  • Cherry Tomatoes:

The cutest and smallest fruit. Average weight 0.42 oz.-0.88 oz. with 25-35mm in diameter. Best suited for the container, balconies, or limited spaces.

  • Cocktail Tomatoes:

They are larger than a cherry tomato and smaller than classic or globe tomatoes.

  • Plum Tomatoes:

They are commonly known as paste tomatoes. They are medium sizes, around 2-4 inches tall, and oval in shape. Plum tomatoes are mildly acidic and flavorful—best used in making sauces and salsas.

  • Cylindrical Tomatoes:

They are stretched more or less parallel on both sides and are mainly used to make ketchup, paste, and sauces.

  • Currant Tomatoes:

They are the tiny version of cherry tomatoes that grow indeterminately. The average length of the plants is up to 8 feet tall, and each plant contains around 100 fruits. The fruit tastes sweet and is perfect for preservation.

  • Pear Tomatoes:

Pear-shaped, commonly known as corn seed tomatoes, are indeterminate heirloom varieties. They are usually found in red, orange, and yellow colors. They taste sweet, pear in shape, and petite in size.

  • Campari Tomatoes:

These varieties are similar to Cherry Tomatoes but simply larger. They taste sweet and are best used in salad and cooking.

  • Grape Tomatoes:

They are small and oval-shaped and look like cherry tomatoes. They are extra sweetened and an excellent match for salad and lunch boxes.

  • Coyote Tomatoes:

They are the tiny version of cherry tomatoes which are yellow in color, and plants are vigorous, wild, and sprawling. They are indeterminate varieties, and the taste is mind-blowing.

  • Heart-Shaped Tomatoes:

They are great for paste and canning, also known as Oxheart tomatoes, Hungarian heart tomatoes, Hogs Heart, Japanese Oxheart, and so many names.

  • Lemon-Shaped Tomatoes:

They are very lucrative, lemon-shaped, yellow-color hybrid varieties.


Classify Tomato Varieties Based on Personal Preferences:

Each tomato variety has some specialty to make them unique. They also have some pros and cons. So, choosing the right tomato plant among thousands of types is overwhelming.

There has another way to find a suitable tomato variety based on the personal preferences of the gardener.

In this classification method, you can compare the characteristics of tomato varieties with your purpose of use, garden location, season length, and other relevant factors to determine the right tomato plants.

  • Disease Resistant Varieties

Hybrid varieties are more disease resistant than heirloom varieties. Suppose you want disease-free plants for your garden or want to avoid facing the hassle of extra caring to protect tomato plants. In that case, you must have to choose determinate hybrid tomato varieties.

Most heirloom varieties have fewer diseases resistant capacities than the hybrid varieties.

  • Length of the Season

Suppose you live in a planting zone with a shorter planting time. In that case, you must select the varieties that will make harvest in a shorter period. Therefore, the length of the season is significant in determining the tomato plants.

In the circumstances, determinate hybrid tomato varieties are better than heirloom indeterminate.

  • Based On Flavor and Colors

Heirloom indeterminate tomato varieties are the perfect solution for you if you grow tomatoes for flavors and colors.

  • Hardiness Zone

You can only grow the tomato varieties you wish in your garden if the hardiness zones allow the types.

It’s hardly possible to grow zone 9 tomato varieties in zone 3 and zone 3 varieties in zone 9.

Tomatoes are warm-weather plants that harvest better in warm conditions. But some particular tomato varieties are suitable for cold weather and can’t tolerate overheating.

On the other hand, you can find some varieties that produce fruits yearly based on hardiness zones.

So, consider the USDA hardiness zone for selecting tomato varieties.

Seed packets and plant tags have proper instructions for a hardiness zone. Always check the plant tags carefully before buying any plants from the nursery or seed packets from a gardening store.

  • Microclimate

If you live in a microclimate area, you can go beyond the hardiness zone and pick some varieties which don’t allow in your respective hardy zone.

A microclimate is a unique climate condition inside a more significant climate that doesn’t behave like the larger climate.

  • Based On Space and Care

Garden space helps to determine the right tomato plants. If your garden has enough space, you can go for all types of tomato varieties, like an heirloom or hybrid, and determinate or indeterminate tomatoes.

On the other hand, when you have limited space for gardening or wish to start container gardening, go for determinate and hybrid varieties.

  • Setting a Gardening Goal

Hybrid or determinate tomato varieties are suitable for commercial farming because they produce bulk production all at once.

And heirloom and indeterminate tomato varieties are best used for individual purposes like flavorful and colorful varieties for salad, making sauces, or cooking around the season.

  • Purpose of Uses

Suppose you want fresh tomatoes all year round for cooking or making salads. In that case, indeterminate and heirloom tomato varieties will be the perfect solution.

On the other hand, if you want to preserve fruit through canning, drying, freezing, or making sauces or pastes, you better go for hybrid and determinate tomato varieties.

Tomato Varieties                                                      Best When Used For
Red BeefsteakSalsaSaucesDipsBurgersGrilling
Green BeefsteakSalsaSandwichesSaucesDessertsJuicingPicklingGrilling
  • Irregular Tomato Varieties

Besides the traditional tomato varieties, you can find some rare types such as seedless, miniature, or dwarf.

Suppose you don’t like the slippery seeds of tomatoes. In that case, some seedless tomato varieties, including cherry, paste, or slicing varieties. Unfortunately, finding seedless varieties in the local gardening center can sometimes be challenging. So you better search online shops to find suitable types for your local gardening zone.

Miniature or dwarf tomato varieties are suitable for balcony, container, or hobby gardeners.

  • Conventional Tomato Varieties:

You often hear the varieties named Cherry tomatoes which are heirloom types most of the time and small in size and taken as fresh fruit or in salads and other dishes.

Roma tomatoes are determinate varieties, also known as paste or plum tomatoes. They have thicker fruit walls and contain fewer seeds than other tomato varieties. When you are determined to grow Roma or paste tomatoes, you will make delicious sauces from them.

Beefsteak tomatoes are also familiar as slicing tomatoes. However, they are bigger, like baseball size. They are commonly used in sandwiches and burgers for their meaty content.



There have thousands of tomato varieties out there with different names and colors. You don’t need to bother them to pick the right one for your garden.

You need to know the basic types and varieties of tomatoes and your purpose of use, and the zone you live in. This basic information will lead you to determine the suitable tomato varieties for your garden.

For example,

If you live in zone 9, want to take fresh tomatoes or salads with your meals every day, and have space limitations, then which tomato variety you choose?

—- You may choose semi-determinate tomato varieties compatible with zone 9, including a standard-size container, but bigger is better.

Now go to your local gardening store or nursery and follow your query’s sample question.

You will get better feedback.


A succession of growing tomatoes not only depends on selecting tomato varieties but also on other significant factors like soil health, temperature, watering, disease control, and other vital issues.

To become a successful gardener, you must be well concerned about all the factors.

Happy gardening!



 Sources and Citations:


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