Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Cristina
Are Roma tomatoes determinate or indeterminate? Yes and yes. The Roma or plum tomato type is an old heirloom cultivar, and both determinate and indeterminate cultivars have been bred and stabilized. Let’s unpack what determinate and indeterminate tomatoes are, and then we can move on to our question “Are Roma tomatoes determinate or indeterminate?”
To understand our question “Are Roma tomatoes determinate or indeterminate” we will first have to define what a determinate and an indeterminate tomato are. After this, we can have a look at what Roma tomatoes are. Then we can answer our question.
What Is The Difference Between A Determinate Or Indeterminate Tomato?
These tomatoes grow to a specific size, flower set fruit and the fruit ripens in one flush, normally over a week or two. These tomatoes are well suited to commercial production, where it is then possible to have planting and harvesting campaigns followed by pest treatment breaks to limit the spread of pests. Determinate tomatoes are a good choice for balcony gardens, and people growing in areas that have short growing seasons.
These tomatoes just sprawl and grow, flower and set fruit, and grow further and flower and set fruit, giving you a long growth cycle from one plant, and a constant, or semi-constant supply of tomatoes. Indeterminate tomatoes are, in my opinion far more suited to the home gardener, as it allows us to produce a constant trickle of our favorite tomatoes for a few months of the year. This would apply to people such as myself that have a 5-6 month tomato season. Indeterminate tomatoes are not suited to balcony gardens unless you enjoy having a jungle and have friendly neighbors who do not mind having their balcony invaded by tomatoes.
What Is A Roma Tomato? – Are Roma Tomatoes Determinate Or Indeterminate?
The Roma tomato is a really good tomato to grow! I had always thought that it was an Italian tomato due to the name and never really bothered to read up about it! I grow it because it is resistant to fusarium and verticillium wilt – both of which are a problem in my climate which has cold damp summers sometimes.
Upon reading more about one of my favorite tomatoes I see it is actually an open-pollinated strain that was bred in the USA by mixing the successful commercial cultivars, San Marzano and Red top. This led to a stable new plant that can be grown from the seeds of a parent plant – in other words, it is open-pollinated and an heirloom plant. This is important, as it means with time, you can keep the seeds of the plants that do the best in your garden, and using the genetic diversity that is present in any open-pollinated plant, you can select for genetics that is adapted to your unique growing conditions. I like this about heirloom seeds. They are less prescriptive than F1 Hybrids which do not breed true from seed and give you no leeway to adjust your genetics to your local conditions.
Tomato Roma Characteristics
The shape of a Roma tomato is oblong and reportedly “plum-like”. I have never seen a plum that looks like a Roma tomato in my life and would tend to describe it as being a long tomato that has a fat end and a point and a thin top. It is far more pear-shaped than plum shaped. But with fewer curves than a pear.
The Roma tomato has exceptional taste as an off plant eat it whole tomato – and also makes a good processed tomato. I tend to grow quite a lot of these and eat the smaller dark red ones – these taste better – and the bigger tomatoes get boiled in a pot and made into tomato stock that I freeze in the freezer and consumer for the rest of the year – and sometimes the next year too.
Now we have still not answered our question, “Are Roma tomatoes determinate or indeterminate?” Let’s get to that now!!
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Are Roma Tomatoes Determinate Or Indeterminate?
The answer to this question is yes! There are determinate and indeterminate strains of Roma tomato that are available. This means that you can have a short sharp flush of fruit from a determinate Roma cultivar or a long rambling flow of fruit from an indeterminate Roma tomato.
I tend to prefer indeterminate Roma cultivars, as these grow exceptionally well in my area – the tomatoes are resistant to Fusarium wilt that tends to wipe out my Yellow Pear and Crimean Black tomatoes. In some years, there is less misty rain in peak summer, and in these years the other tomatoes do very well. But the Roma indeterminate can be counted on to produce a long, tasty crop of tomatoes in both rainy seasons and drought years. In rainy years you get plagues of fungi and viruses, and in dry years you are tormented by spider mites. You can never completely win, but I find controlling spider mites with predatory mites and neem oil is much easier than controlling fusarium wilt. Hence growing fusarium wilt-resistant tomatoes such as Roma works well.
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How Do Roma Tomatoes Grow?
I have grown both determinate and indeterminate Roma tomatoes. I find them to be rapid-growing tomatoes. I normally start them before spring in indoor seed trays and then get them in the ground after the last frosts are over. They stretch rapidly when transplanted – you can plant them quite deep, as the stems will sprout roots that grow into the soil – planting the plant deeply in this way gives it better access to water on hot days when the top layer of soil can become dry.
For Determinate Roma I normally grow them on a trellis made of three bamboo poles tied together and then tie the tomato vines to the bamboo poles using old stockings. This allows you to let the plant grow to about 6 feet tall. You will get a heavy crop and can then harvest these for about two weeks after which the plant will fade slowly away.
For Indeterminate Roma they tend to ramble, so I actually grow them over my fences or even in small hedges – these plants will take over an entire section of your garden and it becomes quite important to put out rat poison bait. If you do not do this, you will end up attracting a horde of rats into your garden and you will get no fruit.
I use bait stations to place baits – and I always select a bait that has a very limited impact on birds and cats – I definitely do not wish to poison my cat or an owl. Ask your local pest extermination company which registered rodenticides in your region have the least impact and purchase these. I use a Bayer product called Racumin. This has so far been as far as I can tell largely impact-free on my cat, and the Cape Eagle Owl and Barn Owl in my area have been ringed and tagged and have been here for more than a decade.
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Now To Answer A Few Frequently Asked Questions
Are All Roma Tomatoes Determinate?
There are so many cultivars of Roma tomato out there, each with some mutation of Roma in its name. As an example, you can buy La Roma III tomato seeds that are determinate. I have grown golden Roma tomatoes and these are very very indeterminate. They in fact sprawled all over my garden and years later I still get these things growing in my hedges during wet years. So the answer is there are a lot of sub-cultivars of Roma, and some are determinate, some are indeterminate, and in my experience, some are somewhere in between if that is even possible.
Varieties Of Roma Tomatoes – Are Roma Tomatoes Determinate Or Indeterminate?
The Roma tomato is such a winner, that naturally people have bred all sorts of sub-cultivars. I have once grown a red one with stripes on it, and I cannot find the name of it now – but it looked like it was on fire. I have grown yellow Roma, Red Roma, Purple Roma, and even one funny-looking Roma that I bought in Mauritius that actually looked like it had leopard spots. There are lots of sub-cultivars of Roma. Go wild and explore and find the one/ones that work for you.
How Tall Do Roma Tomato Plants Grow
In my experience, determinate Roma tomatoes grow to a height of about 6-8 feet maximum. Indeterminate Roma can ramble over trees and attain heights of probably 10-15 feet easily! I had one that took over the hedge between my house and my neighbors once and there were tomatoes right at the top of the hedge. The kids next door harvested these with a catapult – and made a terrible mess.
In Conclusion – Are Roma Tomatoes Determinate Or Indeterminate?
You can purchase both determinate and indeterminate Roma tomato seeds. Hence we can answer our question “are Roma tomatoes determinate or indeterminate” with a simple YES. They can be both. And in my experience, they can also be a bit in between – you sometimes get Roma tomatoes that will ramble a bit, produce one flush of fruit, then another, then die. A true determinate tomato just keeps going until winter kills it.
Dr. Garth A. Cambray is a Canadian/South African entrepreneur and beekeeper with 28 years of experience in apiculture and specializes in adding value to honey. His Ph.D. research developed a new advanced continuous fermentation method for making mead that has resulted in a number of companies globally being able to access markets for mead. His company, Makana Meadery, exports honey mead to the USA where it is available to discerning connoisseurs. He has also developed technologies to commercially manufacture organic honey vinegar in Zambia for export globally. He holds a few patents globally in the ethanol industry and believes in technology and knowledge transfer for human development and environmental sustainability. One of his proudest achievements is the fact that the wind farm he started at one of his old apiary sites has essentially made his hometown carbon neutral.