some controversy exists over whether or not tomato plants should be pruned, and the reality is that if you don’t, it will not cause problems. tomatoes are not one of those plants that require pruning or deadheading in order to thrive, but shrewd pruning can improve the quality of the fruit you harvest. if you have fungal issues in your garden, airflow definitely should be considered, and you may want to prune your tomato plants. additionally, if your tomato plants are lying on the ground, you might want to prune them. instead of pruning, you can also stake your tomato plant to keep the leaves off the ground. when a tomato plant is pruned properly, all of the foliage receives adequate sunlight, and the plant is able to photosynthesize more efficiently, boosting growth and fruit production.
because determinate plants develop all of their fruit at one time, pruning may cause you to sacrifice tomatoes for no reason. this helps keep the commonly huge vines in control, and it encourages the plant to produce several large tomatoes instead of lots of foliage and many smaller tomatoes. to fit more plants into a small space, you’ll want to prune your indeterminate tomato plants regularly and keep them staked or caged. however, indeterminate plants will still keep growing taller, and you’ll keep getting fruit as long as the plant is growing. this will also result in a tomato plant that quickly outgrows its space in the garden. suckers under 2 inches long can simply be pinched off with your fingers, but with larger suckers, use a pair of clean pruners, disinfecting them as you move from plant to plant to protect against spreading diseases. branches that are low-hanging and touching the ground should either be staked up or removed.
sometimes the tomato plants in our gardens get so large and so unwieldy that you can’t help but wonder, “should i prune my tomato plants?” this question is quickly followed by, “exactly how do i prune tomato plants?” let’s look at these two questions. some people assert firmly that pruning tomato suckers improves the production and health of a plant. a study at iowa state university (pdf) published in 2000 showed that pruning tomato suckers sometimes made a difference and sometimes did not in terms of the size the fruit.
but the study did not find that pruning tomato suckers ever helped with the yield of the plant. but, on an anecdotal level, a great many master gardeners recommend the practice of pruning tomato plants. your answer to the question, “should i prune my tomato plants?” is your own, but now you have some additional information on why and how to prune tomato plants. download our free tomato growing guide and learn how to grow delicious tomatoes.
unpruned foliage will eventually grow into new branches that will form fruit, but most experienced growers advise that tomatoes should be pruned the best time to prune tomato plants is in the early morning on a dry day. this will allow for the wounds from the pruning to heal cleanly and the simplest is to pinch it off entirely; not surprisingly, this is called “simple pruning.” this should be done when the sucker is still small and succulent., .
to grow the strongest tomato plant possible, prune side stems below the first fruit cluster. as a tomato plant matures, its lower leaves begin to yellow. pinch or prune yellowed leaves to prevent disease, improve the tomato plant’s appearance, and help the plant keep its energy focused on fruit production. pruning tomato plants is an optional technique that some gardeners use to keep plants tidy, manipulate fruit size, and even speed ripening. there is one big catch: you should only prune indeterminate varieties, which produce new leaves and flowers continuously through the growing season. pruning is really a simple process. look for the tomato “suckers,” which are the side shoots that grow in the “v” space between the main stem if space in your garden is at a premium, or if you’re supporting plants with tomato ladders or stakes, it’s best to prune your tomatoes to one, .
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