Which Type of Tomatoes are Easiest to Grow- Cordon or Bush?

Tomato Red Profusion a bush variety
Tomato Red Profusion a bush variety

Tomatoes need quite a lot of care and attention, but some are easier to grow than others.

Tomatoes divide up into two broad groups; upright and bush.

Upright tomatoes, also known as Cordon or Indeterminate Tomatoes, as the name suggests, grow upright with a single stem . Upright tomatoes are more labour intensive and difficult to grow because they have additional growing requirements which include stopping off the growth, pinching out the side shoots, and thinning the foliage- detailed below. 

Bush tomatoes make small bushes and do not need to have their growth checked, or side shoots removed and are generally easier to grow. Many bush tomatoes are small cherry types and suitable for modest containers and hanging baskets. Illustrated here is a lovely sweet variety "Red Profusion" which as the images shows is a bush variety with dozens of hanging trusses of tomatoes. Available on line from Thompson and Morgan

Some types of tomato are found only as either upright or bush, for example, the larger tomatoes, such as  beefsteak are upright. If you want to grow different types of tomatoes, you will need to grow both bush and upright. Upright tomatoes are illustrated top right.

Bush tomato are shrub like in growth and need some support, a light cane will do. Overall, they are easier to grow compared with Cordon tomatoes, which grow up to 2m and more.

Which variety to choose is a question of personal taste but remember the large, Beefsteak type, because the fruits are so large take longer to ripen. This means if your veg plot, or greenhouse is in an exposed area, or further north, they may not ripen until late in the season. For many gardeners, especially new gardeners, the easiest tomatoes to grow to get a good crop without too much trouble are the bush cherry tomatoes. 

Choosing between Cordon Tomatoes or Bush Tomatoes

Cordon or Bush?

Looking at the images on the right the cordon tomato is tall and thin. The Bush tomato in the hanging basket is like a small shrub.

The Bush variety of tomato, of which there are many types, are easier to grow because they do not need pinching out, less potting on and it is unnecessary to take off side shoots.

Bush tomatoes can be left to get on with the growing. Those sold as suitable for hanging baskets are often the small fruit varieties, and they can do very well in hanging baskets with dozen and dozens of tumbling fruit. 

Cordon or upright tomatoes in greenhouse

Cordon Tomatoes growing in a greenhouse

This shows Cordon Tomatoes, which are still relatively small growing in a Greenhouse. They will need to be potted on into large containers and supports by way of canes and ties added.

Bush tomatoes growing in hanging basket

Bush tomatoes growing in hanging basket

This is a bush tomato plant, and the shape is quite different. It is ideal for hanging baskets and often supports the cherry type of tomato. It is easier to grow, and requires less attention. 

More about growing Tomatoes

Follow the Sunday gardener's step-by-step advice about growing tomatoes to ensure you have a successful sweet tasty crop every harvest. 

  1. How to grow tomatoes 
  2. How to pot on Tomatoes, dos and don'ts,  and why it is important.
  3. Hardening off tomatoes for growing outside
  4. Pinching out Side Shoots on tomatoes
  5. Stopping off  Tomatoes
  6. The Best way to Water and Feed Tomatoes
  7. How to ripen Green Tomatoes
  8. Common problems and diseases when growing tomatoes
  9. If you have found these tips helpful, why not buy the book: Success with Tomatoes The Sunday Gardener's guide to growing tomatoes, packed full of practical tips and helpful images, everything you need to know to grow a tasty crop. Only £6.20
all types of tomatoes

Last updated 18.12.2021