Determinate Tomatoes

Quick Reference

Harvest Type:  Determinate tomatoes are harvested all at once.

Transplant/Direct Sow:  Direct sow or transplant. 

Many growers prefer to start plants indoors due to the long day-to-harvest time.

When to Plant:   Sow seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last average frost date. Sow seeds outdoors 2-3 weeks after the last average frost date.

TIP: Determinant tomato varieties tend to have a shorter time to harvest. So, transplant seedlings or sow seed directly.

Days to Germinate:  6-10 days

Days to Maturity:  70-80 days

Planting Depth:  ¼” deep.

Germination Temp:  65-90°F

Seed Spacing:  2 seeds per inch. Thin to 2-3’ apart

TIP: Determinate tomato plants are shorter and bushier than indeterminate varieties. That means you can squeeze a few more determinate tomato plants into the row.

Row Spacing:  3-4' apart

Light:  Full sun

Soil pH:  6.2-6.8 pH

Water:  1- 1 ½” of water per week

Soil Temperature:  65-90°F

Fertilizer:  5-10-10 N-P-K ratio

Rotation:  Heavy feeder.  Rotate annually with root vegetables.


Harvest Type

Determinate tomatoes produce their crop over a 1-2 week period. These are lovely tomatoes for canning and preserving as the yield occurs in a short period.

Transplant / Direct Sow

You can transplant or direct sow determinate tomato seeds. Transplant the seedlings when they are 3-5 inches tall, and the nighttime soil temperature is above 55°F.

When to Plant:

Plant seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last average frost-free date and sow seeds outdoors 2-3 weeks after the last frost-free date when the soil temperature is 70°F-80°F. Or when the nighttime soil temperature stays above 55°F.

TIP: Plant a variety of tomatoes each year until you find the cultivars that grow best in your area.

Planting Depth

1/4" deep.

Germination Temperature Range

Tomatoes germinate when the temperature is 70-80°F and when the nighttime soil temperature is above 55°F.

Spacing Between Plants

Plant seeds one-inch apart and thin as needed. Plant seedlings 2-2 1/2' apart. Generally, determinate tomatoes do not require staking.

TIP: Determinate tomatoes, also called bush tomatoes, are short and squat plants, unlike indeterminate varieties. Most determinate tomatoes stop growing when they reach four-five feet in height. Indeterminate tomatoes can grow to heights over 12'.

Growing conditions

Tomatoes love fertile soil that does not have a lot of nitrogen. They like phosphorus and potassium and a little bit of nitrogen. Dig rows 2-3 feet deep and backfill with quality compost or dress the soil with fertilizer. Soil should hold water but also be well-draining. Plant tomatoes in full sun if you live in zone 9 or above; afternoon shade is good for many types of tomatoes.

Companion Plants

Eggplant, basil, peppers - sweet and hot - are all good companions for tomatoes.


Rotate tomato crops each year to avoid pest issues and nutrient issues. Tomatoes are heavy feeders.

Anticipated yields

Plan your garden yield at 3-6 determinate tomato plants per person for daily consumption, and expect about 10-20 pounds of tomatoes per plant. You can look at the blossoms and young fruit with determinate tomatoes to see how many each plant will produce. Grow some varieties of optimum growing conditions, and that plant may produce 100-200 tomatoes. Don't be afraid of too many tomatoes. Juice, can, freeze, or make jam with the excess.

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