I recently planted tomato seeds using store-bought cherry tomatoes, and while I’m waiting for them to grow, I was wondering what height I should expect them to reach. I was also curious about other tomato varieties, so I did some research to find out more. Here’s what I found.
The average height of tomato plants is 6 feet. However, depending on the variety, tomato plants range from 3-9 feet tall. Generally, indeterminate tomato plants get taller than determinate varieties since they vine until frost, but the exact height depends on the variety.
So, while the average height of tomato plants is 6 feet, how large does each tomato variety get, and how can you keep them from growing too tall? Let’s take a closer look.
How Tall Do Tomato Plants Get?
|Tomato Variety||Time to Maturity||Height|
|Roma||70-80 days||3 feet|
|Cherry||45-80 days||4-6 feet|
|Grape||70 days||8-9 feet|
|Heirloom||60-80 days||5-8 feet|
|Beefsteak||80-100 days||8 feet|
|Celebrity||65 days||3-4 feet|
|Brandywine||80-100 days||9 feet|
|Early Girl||50 days||9 feet|
|Big Boy||75-80 days||4-5 feet|
|Better Boy||70-75 days||5-8 feet|
In my research for this post, I put together this chart which includes the height and time to maturity of the most popular tomato varieties. This should help show how tall your tomato plant should get and if you need to provide more room for them.
the above measurements are just averages. Realistically, several factors contribute to how tall (and fast) tomato plants grow. These include:
- Determinate or Indeterminate
Feel free to refer to the image below if you’d like an idea of where this range falls on the pH scale.
If you’d like an easy way to measure your soil’s pH, check out my recommended tools page for the pH meter that I use.
Additionally, tomato plants typically like fertilizer that has lower nitrogen and higher phosphorus and potassium. This combination helps encourage flowering and fruiting, which is a must-have for tomato plants. A good NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) mix to get for tomato plants is a 4-6-2, such as Down to Earth’s All-Purpose Fertilizer on Amazon.
Tomato plants also grow best in full sun, and with temperatures ranging between 70-85ºF. If the weather gets hotter or colder than this, the plants can become stunted and even die. This is why most tomatoes are grown in the springtime and as early as possible. This usually means starting the seedlings inside a few weeks before the last frost.
Because tomato plants are relatively fast-growing and produce many juicy fruits, they often require plenty of water. A good way to make sure they get enough water is to use a finger to check the top 2-4 inches of soil. If the soil is bone dry then it needs more water. If it’s sopping wet, the soil needs less water or its drainage improved. For best results, use mulch and compost to help the soil retain water and protect it from the elements.
Pruning also has a role to play in the time to mature and height in tomato plants. Growing tomato plants that have their flowers and suckers pruned can often reach maturity sooner. This is because without flowers or fruit to feed, the plant can use more energy to finish growing. On the other hand, mature tomato plants can benefit from pruning excess branches and sucker to focus on flower and fruit growth.
If you’d like more information on pruning, check out my post on a visual guide to pruning tomato plants.
When it comes to transplanting, most tomato growers start their seeds indoors and transplant them outside after the last frost. This tends to work well, as you can get a head-start on the growing season. However, there are times when tomato plants can get transplant shock—which stresses the plant, potentially limiting its growth. To avoid transplant shock, transplant the seedlings as early as possible and avoid damaging their roots. For best results, try not to transplant the seedlings after they’ve reached three inches tall.
Lastly, the time to maturity and height of tomato plants is largely affected by whether they’re a determinate or indeterminate variety. Determinate tomato plants typically include bush varieties and stop growing after reaching a certain height. On the other hand, indeterminate varieties normally grow and fruit throughout the entire season, usually fruiting directly from the steams, instead of in clusters.
If you’d like to see which tomato varieties are determinate or indeterminate, check out the table I made below. Keep in mind these labels aren’t black and white—some varieties can be both. Some can even be semi-determinate (growing to a shorter height like determinates, but still fruiting all season like indeterminates).
|Cherry||Depends on the variety|
|Grape||Depends on the variety|
How Wide Do Tomato Plants Get?
Tomato plants usually get to be about 3 feet wide. Because of this, tomato plants and seedlings should also be planted 3 feet apart. If they’re any closer, mold and disease can spread from plant to plant when their leaves touch. The exact width to plant can depend on the variety and pruning involved.
How Tall Should Tomato Plants Be Before Planting Outside?
Tomato plants and seedlings should be transplanted when they reach a height of 3 inches. Any taller, and the roots will have developed more, increasing the chance of transplant shock. This can stunt the plant due to stress and even kill them if severe enough. For best results, avoid damaging the roots when planting.
How Do You Keep Tomato Plants From Growing Too Tall?
Tomato plants can reach a height of 9 feet or more, but you can keep them from growing too tall by pruning their terminal, or main, stem. This is also called “topping”, and is typically done on indeterminate varieties. Once your tomato plant gets to the desired height, simply prune the terminal stem.
When the terminal stem is cut, the tomato plant will stop growing taller. For example, I had a Carmello tomato plant recently and I accidentally broke the terminal stem. It didn’t grow any taller after that, but luckily it was just about done growing. It continued to fruit and grow outwards.
Keep in mind there’s not a set height you should top tomato plants. Most growers prefer their tomato plants to be no more than 6 feet tall since they can become hard to manage and reach if they’re any taller. This is also a good height to provide abundant fruit yields.
If you’d like more information on caring for tomato plants, make sure to check out my recent post: Are Coffee Grounds Good for Tomato Plants?.