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I got some seeds in a tomato-growing kit and I have no information about what variety they will be. I don't even know if they are determinate, indeterminate or "semi-determinate". One of the seedlings has started growing quite well and I've planted it in an upside-down container where it seems to be thriving. I gather that one type of tomato should be pruned and the other shouldn't. It's also been suggested that one type might work better in an upside-down container than the other. But since I don't know which type I have, I can't act on any of this information.

So is there some way to determine what type of tomato I have before it fruits?

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If there's no information then I think you just have to chance it - or wait until they get a little bigger. The wikipedia page you linked to says that most (if not all) heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate - so that is the way I would lean... – winwaed Jun 23 '11 at 21:49
@winwaed: My gardening philosophy is to do nothing if I can get away with it. ;-) – Jon Ericson Jun 23 '11 at 22:32
Wait until they stop growing. If that happens then they're determinate. If not, then they're indeterminate. ;) – bstpierre Jun 24 '11 at 11:13
up vote 6 down vote accepted

That's really tough to tell, what @bstpierre commented is correct, but also difficult to compute. So I went out and tried to find popular seeds that are often planted in containers. Hopefully they're one of the following. You can maybe cut out the cherry's and yellow's assuming that's not what the box looks like.


These tomatoes are popular for use in containers, hanging baskets and garden or patio locations where space is limited. Because more people now live where traditional vegetable gardening is not possible, container and patio gardens have become more popular. Their ornamental value is an added benefit and their fruit quality has recently been improved as well. They have fruit in red and some other colors and are not suitable for pruning (except the new Husky hybrids).

Tiny Tim (45 days to harvest; 1 inch; very dwarf, red cherry fruit; determinate)

Cherry Gold (45 days; 1 inch; golden version of Tiny Tim; determinate)

Red Robin (55 days; 1 inch; super-dwarf plant, 6 inches tall; mild taste; determinate)

Yellow Canary (55 days; 1 inch; similar to Red Robin, but yellow fruit; determinate)

Pixie Hybrid II (52 days; 2 ounces; compact dwarf plants; determinate)

Patio Hybrid (65 days; 3 ounces; strong dwarf plants, relatively large fruit, ideal container plant; determinate)

Small Fry (72 days; 1 inch; red, good in hanging baskets; determinate)

Husky Red Hybrid (68 days; 6 ounces; dwarf plant, large fruit; extended harvest; indeterminate; resistant to VF)

Husky Gold Hybrid (70 days; 6 ounces; AAS winner; same plant types as Red and Pink; gold fruit; indeterminate; resistant to VF)

Husky Pink Hybrid (72 days; 6 ounces; smooth pink fruit on same husky-type plant; indeterminate; resistant to VF)


So, if you have some recollection of what the seed looks like, and it looks like this:

Husky Hybrid Seeds Husky Hybrid Seeds

then you've probably got an indeterminate tomato. Otherwise, it's determinate.

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+1 as soon as I saw the reference to the halting problem. Now let me read the rest of the answer. ;-) – Jon Ericson Jun 24 '11 at 19:47
I still have some seeds left and I looked at them to see if they had their variety printed on the package. I never thought the seed themselves could be useful for IDing my plant! At any rate, they don't look like what you've posted, if I recall, so the odds are I've got a determinate. (So no pruning! But I might need to worry about broken branches. Maybe.) – Jon Ericson Jun 24 '11 at 19:58

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