With so many different types of tomatoes to choose from, it can be hard to decide what to grow. I like to plant a mixture of tomato types – cherry varieties, beefsteaks for slicing and sandwiches, and plum tomatoes for sauce. If you’re trying to decide the best types of tomatoes to plant in your garden, consider how you like to eat your tomatoes. Also think about your space. If you don’t have large garden, you may wish to stick to compact varieties. To help you figure out which types of tomatoes to plant, check out my detailed guide below.
Why learn about the types of tomatoes?
For me, the types of tomatoes I choose to grow are based on how my family likes to eat them. Cherry and grape tomatoes are eaten as snacks, and dipped in dressings and hummus. Plum tomatoes are perfect for canning or sauce making. And use thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes in summer sandwiches, on burgers, or layered with mozzarella cheese and basil for a mouth-watering Caprese salad.
When selecting types of tomatoes, consider growth habit
Before we all the wonderful types of tomatoes to grow, it’s important to understand that tomato plants are classified according to their growth habit. The two main growth habits are determinate, or bush, and indeterminate.
Determinate tomato plants grow to a certain height, often 3 to 4 feet, and then produce their flowers and fruits over a short period of time. They’re ideal for small spaces, container growing, or gardeners who wish to can or process tomatoes because the fruits ripen around the same time.
Indeterminate tomato plants form tall plants that can grow up to 7 feet and require strong supports. They produce flowers and fruits from mid-summer until frost.
Understanding the differences between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes is important as it helps you choose varieties that fit your space. If you have a patio or balcony garden and plant in pots, you may wish to grow compact determinate varieties. If you’ve got plenty of garden space and are able to stake and support tall tomato plants, you can opt for indeterminate varieties.
types of tomatoes to grow
If you’re like me, you probably find it hard to narrow down your list of must-grow tomatoes. Every year I aim to plant fewer seedlings, yet by mid-summer my garden is with tomato plants! It’s to resist the incredible variety of tomato types available through seed catalogs. Below you’ll learn more about types of tomatoes, starting with the small-fruited types and going all the way to the fruits of beefsteak tomatoes.
Currant tomato plants tend to be a bit wild looking, with their vigorous growth sprawling in every direction. but I try to keep the plants upright to conserve garden space. By mid-summer, the plants are producing hundreds of pea-sized fruits with delicious tomato flavor. These tiny tomatoes often split as you pick them and are best eaten soon after harvesting.
Red Currant (70 days) – By mid-summer Red Currant tomato plants are covered in long clusters of small ruby-red fruits. We enjoy their sweet tomato flavor straight off the or tossed and pastas. For a fun color contrast, grow Yellow Currant alongside Red Currant.
Candyland Red (60 days) – Candyland Red is an hybrid tomato that offers a tidier growth habit than other currant varieties. The indeterminate plants grow up to 6 feet tall and yield hundreds and hundreds of small bright red fruits.
Cherry tomatoes are one of the most popular types of tomatoes to grow. The plants produce small, cherry-sized fruits with a diameter of about 1 to 1 1/2 inches. The juicy, sweet tomatoes are typically produced in clusters or trusses, with the plants offering a generous harvest. Most cherry tomato varieties are quick to mature with the harvest beginning about 60 days from transplanting. This gives you a head start on the homegrown harvest as large-fruited varieties need an extra few weeks to ripen their sizeable fruits.
Bonus cherry tomato varieties (the most popular type of small-fruited tomatoes)
Sweet Million (63 days) – Sweet Million is a classic cherry variety that produces tall indeterminate plants, each yielding hundreds of bright red fruits. Ok, maybe it’s not a million tomatoes, but it’s enough to keep you in sweet cherry tomatoes all summer long.
Yellow Pear (75 days) – Pear tomatoes are a unique tomato type to grow. Their unusual pear-shape adds fun to and their bright, sweet flavor is delightful. The indeterminate plants grow up to 7 feet tall and produce long chains of the 1 1/2 inch fruits until frost.
A handful of grape tomatoes straight from the perfect summer snack. The bite-sized tomatoes have an oblong-shape and the fruits are generally more firm than cherry tomatoes and have a meatier texture. As for the taste, most grape varieties have a rich tomato flavor that balances sweet with acid.
Plum tomatoes, also known as paste, processing or Roma tomatoes, are the type of tomato to grow if you want to make sauces and tomato paste. Most varieties of plum tomatoes are oblong in shape and have blunt or pointy ends. They have a lower water content than beefsteak or cherry tomatoes, thicker walls, and a meaty texture. Of course you don’t need to use all of your plum tomatoes for sauces as they’re also great, pastas, salsas, and straight.