Tomatoes are a sprawling vine when left to grow undisturbed. Due to this, it is important to recognize the necessity of a tomato trellis, cage or stake placed immediately upon transplant. Attempting to place these implements after your plant has begun its root formation will disturb and likely sever some of its vital roots. Placement of your support device is up to you but bear in mind the nature of your plant and likely wind directions, as well as whether you can make use of any existing structures to help block wind or support the plant or trellis.
When we begin our transplants, we want to make sure to bury about 75% of the plant under the soil. To do so, you bury to the bottom-most set of true leaves. You can clip off any baby leaves that are in the way. Each tiny hair on the tomato stem is going to become a root, so the more stem buried underground, the stronger and healthier your tomato plant will be.
Also, you may hang your tomato plant upside down, but be sure to invest in a strong planter and hook system as your fully grown plant will be quite heavy, especially once it begins bearing fruit.
Determinate tomato varieties tend to be smaller plants. If you are interested in indoor growing, we recommend a determinate variety as they will only grow to a certain, determined point, and then their roots will extend no further. They bear all of their fruit over the course of about two weeks and then begin to die off. Many will still require support, and every plant will have its own size expectations.
Be sure to check the tag or seed packet when you make your purchase to ensure you have the space required. If your space is truly limited, you may want to look in growing a “dwarf” variety of the tomato plant.
On the other hand, indeterminate tomato varieties will grow as large as they are able, provided they are properly cared for. They are not genetically programmed to stop growing at any particular point. These plants tend to become quite sprawling and are best grown outdoors with a cage or trellis for support.
Additionally, they bear fruit throughout the summer season. If you are someone who enjoys having a steady supply of tomatoes available all season long, an indeterminate crop might be your best choice. By far, most tomatoes we are familiar with – including heirlooms, beef steak and many cherry tomatoes are indeterminate varieties.
Some tomatoes also come in a semi-determinate variety, which means the crop won’t grow quite as large or produce quite as frequently. It’s best to assess your needs and your garden’s available space before deciding which tomato variety – or two, or three! – are right for you.