Semi-Determinate Tomato Varieties

Tomato plants mainly come in tall (indeterminate/cordon) and bush varieties (determinate) but there is another type called semi-determinate tomato varieties.

The semi-determinate plant grows into a larger bush than normal and displays some of the characteristics of both tall and bush types.

Lizzano F1 - Semi-Determinate Tomato Varieties
Lizzano F1 – Semi-Determinate Variety

Here is a picture (above) of the semi-determinate tomato Lizzano F1. It grows like a bush variety but produces its tomatoes on trusses (below) like a tall variety. Bush varieties usually produce their tomatoes in clusters, like bunches of grapes.

Lizzano F1 – tomatoes grow on trusses.

One of the benefits of Lizzano F1 is that it is blight resistant. If we get a lot of rain later in the season, the tomatoes will be unaffected.

One disadvantage with bush varieties is that they harvest over a much shorter period than tall varieties

However, semi-determinate varieties like Lizzano, have a longer harvest period than the average bush variety, so they can produce throughout the entire British summer – June through August, and into September (outdoors).

Tall, indeterminate varieties such as Gardener’s Delight, produce their tomatoes on trusses, gradually, over an entire season.

Tall varieties will keep growing until they are stopped by either pinching out or autumn temperatures. Bush varieties produce tomatoes that mature within a shorter period. So with bush varieties, you can end up with a lot of tomatoes mid-summer and have none towards the end of the season.

Aiming for a regular supply throughout the summer

Having a lot of tomatoes has never been a problem for me 🙂 but if you want a regular supply throughout the summer, it’s a good idea to mix up the varieties you grow and have determinate (bush), indeterminate (tall) and maybe a semi-determinate too!

If you grow outside, blight free varieties are now available in all three types. These include:

  • Summerlast – small bush
  • Lizzano F1 – semi-determinate/bush
  • Crimson Cherry F1 – tall cherry
  • Mountain Magic F1 – tall cherry
  • Crimson Crush – tall medium/large
  • Crimson Beefsteak – tall large beefsteak

Not all of the above are available to buy as seeds – some are only available as plug plants. Hopefully seeds will be available over the next few seasons.

Other semi-determinate tomato varieties include: Marmande and Roma. These are often described as semi-bush types – another way of saying semi-determinate.

Semi-determinate tomato varieties usually grow to about 3 or 4 feet and require support.

Holiday watering

If there is one thing that can spoil a holiday, apart from the weather, it’s worrying about watering the tomatoes! If you don’t have a friendly neighbour who can water your tomatoes while you are away, here are a few tips below.

Watering system – solar powered

Given the amount of sun we are having at the moment in the UK, here is a topical way to water our toms – by using solar power.
Could be a very good item to have, especially when away, it is weather responsive too!

Weather responsive Solar automatic watering system. More info at Amazon by clicking on the photo above.

Taps and tubing

Watering systems work well but they can be difficult to set up – the tubing and drippers can be rather fiddly. Getting the right amount of water to each plant, not to mention the possibility of battery failure in the watering timer is a concern! The Kingfisher and the Hozelock are ones I’ve used and have been reliable.

Holiday Watering Tomatoes

Using a standard hosepipe placed around the garden on a water timer, then running the drippers off of it, is a good option for those with a lot of plants in containers.

If you are planting directly in the ground, a porous pipe is a good option. This is ideal for those who grow in greenhouse soil and have a lot of plants. I’ve seen greenhouses in the Vale of Evesham with hundreds of plants use this method with great success.

I hope you and your tomatoes stay cool in this hot spell we’re having in the UK!


8 Responses

  1. Jim Breeds
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    A timely piece on the auto-watering as I’ve been thinking about this. I already have a Hozelock timer that I use if we’re going to be away but it relies on a sprinkler at the greenhouse end which is difficult to adjust to get the correct volume to reach each plant (tomatoes, cucumber, aubergine, chilli and herbs such as basil). I’m inclined to go for a porous pipe solution and drill the correct diameter hole in the GH base to pass the pipe through so that I can leave the door shut while we’re away. (We get all types of visitors in our garden; nocturnal badgers, foxes, fox cubs, neighbours cats, seagulls, other birds, etc’). So |I’m thinking leave the door shut if we’re away so that the plants are protected against such visitors. The downside is the potential heat and humidity build up on hot days, although we do have two auto-opening roof vents and an auto-louvre in the north end of the GH. Do you have an opinion on which risk (unwelcome visitors or heat build up) is preferable? Also, should I set the timer to water twice a day or just once, and if so, is dawn or dusk preferable? Apologies if this is all covered elsewhere on your blog!

    • Rob
      | Reply

      Hi Jim,

      At this time of year, I take a pane of glass out of the top half of the greenhouse door. This allows air in, and keeps visitors out!

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Jim,
      Watering twice a day is best but if you water only once, then morning is preferable.
      The pane of glass out of the greenhouse roof, Rob’s idea, is good because it should stop most night time visitors from eating your tomatoes. If the greenhouse gets too hot it can check the growth of the plants.
      I once had a squirrel visit and took one bite from each tomato of the most mature plant – I didn’t pick them because I was saving them for a photo!

      • Nick
        | Reply

        Hi Rob – that’s a good idea!

      • Jim Breeds
        | Reply

        Thanks Nick (and Rob). I like the idea of taking the top pane out of the door, but suspect that Mr. Butterfingers (me) may live to regret that. 🙂

      • Jim Breeds
        | Reply

        PS, I wish this site had a ‘notify me by email when replies are left’ function. It took today’s newsletter email to remind me that I asked the wuestion a week ago. 🙂

  2. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    First proper harvesting of Red Alert and Maskotka this morning: 17 weeks from sowing 28th February.

    One tip about watering in the heat: even Quadgrows dry up in under one week in 80+F temps. I found this out yesterday as my plants wilted. Normally 10-14 days before a top up needed. Plants looking Ok again this morning after top up.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Rhys,
      Yes, it’s amazing how much water they absorb when the temperatures are as high as they are at the moment!

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