Hands holding a selection of harvested Tomatoes red and yellow varieties

Tomato types explained

Looking to grow tomatoes? Find out which ones best suit you, in our guide to the various tomato types.

If you’ve never grown tomatoes before, you may not be aware that there are different types to choose from. This goes further than tomato cultivars (the name of your tomato), or the colour you want your tomatoes to be.

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When choosing tomatoes, ask yourself how you want the plant to grow and what you want to use the tomatoes for. Then look at cultivars based on colour, flavour and hardiness. This way, you’ll always know what you’re growing and won’t be faced with any surprises.

Find out about the different types of tomato, below.


How you grow your tomatoes

Planting a tomato plant
Planting a tomato plant

Tomatoes are divided into two main types: cordon (indeterminate) or bush (determinate). This identifies how the plant grows. Cordon types are the most commonly grown, and grow as cordons (single-stemmed plants). They grow to heights of up to 2.5m and require support and regular pruning of sideshoots.

Bush types grow as a bush, with many stems. Often referred to as dwarf tomatoes, they’re perfect for growing in pots and hanging baskets, and don’t require any pruning. They’re perfect for beginners as they require less work than indeterminate types. Fruits are usually small, cherry types.

A few varieties are semi-determinate. These tomatoes grow in the same way as indeterminate varieties, but are shorter.


How you eat your tomatoes

There are four types of tomato, based on how you eat them:

Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomato variety 'Berry'
Cherry tomato variety ‘Berry’

These are the smallest and often sweetest tomatoes, ranging in size from the size of a grape size to the size of a plum. They ripen sooner than larger varieties and are perfect for eating raw in salads and pasta dishes.


Salad tomatoes

Tomato 'Tigerella'
Tomato ‘Tigerella’

Medium-sized tomatoes, they can be used in a variety of different ways, including in salads, sauces, roasting and chopped into cooked dishes.


Beefsteak tomatoes

Beefsteak tomato variety 'Costoluto Fiorentino'
Beefsteak tomato variety ‘Costoluto Fiorentino’

These are the biggest tomatoes, which have a thick, meaty texture. They’re ideal for grilling and stuffing, and using in sauces.


Plum tomatoes

Plum tomato variety 'San Marzano'
Plum tomato variety ‘San Marzano’
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These have an oval shape and can be the same size as a cherry tomato, or as large as a salad tomato. They’re fleshy and have few seeds, which makes them perfect for using in sauces and soups. They’re also the best option for sun-drying.


Popular tomatoes to grow

  • ‘Gardeners Delight’ – a cherry cordon type 
  • ‘Moneymaker’ – a salad tomato cordon type
  • ‘Marmande’ – a beefsteak tomato cordon type
  • ‘Tumbling Tom’ – a cherry tomato bush type

Seedlings. Photo: Getty Images.