Indeterminate Growth

Last updated: November 18, 2021

What Does Indeterminate Growth Mean?

In horticulture, indeterminate growth refers to plant growth that has not yet been terminated. This stands in contrast to determinate growth, during which the stems and leaves stop developing as soon as the plant has reached its complete formation.

Plants are considered indeterminate when they develop and grow to produce fruit, leaves, and flowers that are only killed by poor weather conditions or additional external factors.

In humans, hair growth is considered indeterminate. Human hair will keep growing until the external factor of a haircut occurs.


Maximum Yield Explains Indeterminate Growth

Some varieties of tomato plants are considered indeterminate because they grow in a gangly manner, as opposed to determinate tomatoes that tend to grow in bushier shapes. As such, indeterminate plants normally require plenty of staking for support since the stems are on the weaker side.

Some plants tend to produce indeterminate inflorescences, whereby flowers open from the buds and develop in spite of the stunted growth. However, some plant species stop growing even before flowers start to appear.

Some types of mushrooms, such as the Cantharellus californicus, have also been known to exhibit signs of indeterminate growth.

In the animal kingdom, indeterminate growth also applies. The term is used to reference animals that grow rapidly when young, and continue to grow after reaching adulthood, albeit at a much slower pace. For example, fish, reptiles, and many mollusks are known for their indeterminate growth characteristics.


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