3 Keys to Pruning Tomato Plants Remove suckers. As the tomatoes are beginning to develop, remove any drooping limbs that are close to the soil surface. In addition to the lower sections of tomato plants, it is also important to clear space from the middle and tops of plants. We always prune back any “wild branches” from our tomato plants that cross over into paths. Prune your tomato plants sparingly to reduce the risk of sunscald. For the larger tomato plant varieties in our garden, we prune up anywhere from 12 to 18 inches. If you’ve ever grown tomatoes in your vegetable garden, you know how easily they can take over their space with their jumbly growth. It’s like Goldilocks and The Three Bears. (The first pruning, at 4-5 weeks, is critical for building strong stems that will support fruit.) Colder Regions: If you live in northern regions, where the weather isn't too hot, you can remove the sucker in its enterity. We used to do this as well, but stopped after years of experimenting in our garden showed us it simply does not affect our crop yields or plant health. Of course, this may be for the same reason I love weeding (yeah, I am a little weird). As a tomato plant grows, the sugar it produces prompts it to produce new branches, leaves, flowers and eventually, fruit. What Does it Mean to Prune Tomatoes? Pruning Tomato Plants Becky Sideman, UNH Cooperative Extension Professor & Specialist Why prune tomatoes? Dull blades will tear the plants, causing damage and stress. Pruning your tomato plant will improve the airflow for the plant, make harvesting fruit easier, and help your plant produce larger tomatoes in the long run. May 22, 2016 - I love pruning….absolutely love it. We also have included below our video tutorial on pruning as well. If you're growing indeterminate tomato varieties, you'll want to prune them all throughout the growing season. At first, a tomato plant will focus sugars mostly to grow its tip (the very top part). May 20, 2016 - I love pruning….absolutely love it. It stresses the plant, as it interrupts it’s natural growth cycle and thus, it forces it to mature faster. The big question is though, should you prune your tomato plants, and if so, how should you do it? Do this gradually as the plant grows through the season. If you purchase a product via those links through Amazon, Amazon will pay us a referral fee, at no extra cost to you. I think anyone who gets rain, or waters their tomato plants, will benefit from this step. Pruning tomato plants is actually an optional technique. Sep 16, 2019 - Explore jillian Cervelli's board "Pruning Tomato Plants", followed by 932 people on Pinterest. Simply put, indeterminate tomato varieties will continue to produce fruit all throughout the growing season. I can’t throw out a perfectly good plant, so I have lots of tomato plants. Pruning tomato plants is an optional technique that some gardeners use to keep plants tidy, manipulate fruit size, and even speed ripening. Not all tomatoes need pruning, in fact, some should not be pruned except for the bottom leaves and possibly at the end of the growing season. If you really aren't keen on pruning, might I suggest that you at least prune the bottom 12"-18". Simply remove a few branches and stems to allow a bit of light in. Some gardeners swear by it, while others choose not to do it. These tomato varieties will give off fruit all at once and do not need to be pruned. Pruning tomatoes should start at planting time as you remove all lower stems that will come in contact with the soil, thereby preventing the possibility of disease transmission (Figure 4). That air flow and light do wonders to keep mold and disease in check. (Product Link : Fiskars Hand Pruners). You want energy to go to leafy growth, not flowers at this time. As your tomato plant gets bigger, you can continue to remove any leaves up to 18 inches from the ground. Pruning tomato plants is somewhat of a hot topic amongst tomato growers. At this point, many of our tomato plants begin to grow too tall for our supports. Because they fruit in a shorter time span and grow as more compact plants, determinate tomato plants need less pruning. To properly prune a determinate tomato, pinch all … There are several ways to prune tomato plants, depending on the type of tomato and the support you use. How to Prune Your Tomato Plant and Suckers. It allows the plant to direct it’s resources to ripening fruit, and not growing more foliage. Sharp, scissor-type hand clippers are the best tool for tomato pruning. The best time of day to prune tomatoes is in the morning on a dry day. Pruning and Staking Tomatoes - Perfect Techniques - YouTube The growth, flowering, and ripening of the tomato will happen at the same time. Planting Radicchio – How to Grow Radicchio in The... What to Plant In July: A Guide to Planting & Growi... How to Grow Mache Greens AKA Corn Salad Greens, When to Harvest Lettuce & How to Do it Correctly, How to Grow a Hundred Pounds of Potatoes in a Pot, 8 Rules for Healthy Houseplants That Everyone Should Know, 15 Low Maintenance & Pet Friendly Houseplants. Determinate varieties tend to grow short and bushy. There are a limited amount of resources and nutrients available to plants. (The first pruning, at 4-5 weeks, is critical for building strong stems that will support fruit.) It also makes harvesting much easier, and prevents splitting and cracking of branches that become too heavy to support. Patio, Roma, and Celebrity are a few popular varieties of determinate tomato plants. And that mess is more than just an eyesore. Pruning tomato plants is actually an optional technique. According to Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, LSU Ag Center, many people often overlook this simple but important part of the tomato growing process. To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up below for our free email list. 1  Why Pruning Might Help The main reason to prune tomato plants is that it helps your plant direct its energy toward producing fruit rather than producing more foliage. But in areas where tomato blight is rampant, pruning suckers that form below the first flower cluster improves air flow inside the plant, which can slow disease outbreaks. One very important thing to keep in mind though, is the variety of tomato you're growing – this will determine whether or not you should prune your tomato plants. Determine which variety you're growing. Tomatoes require only sun, water, and nutrients to grow. The best time for root pruning is the time when the first clusters of tomatoes ripen. Much of the rot and disease that affect tomato plants comes from the soil. Pruning up the bottom of plants allows for better air circulation, and better plant health. And added air is critical for growth, pollination – and keeping mildew at bay too! We simply top off the plants to keep them manageable. Like better circulation, less disease, increased pollination and higher yields. No, you do not have to prune your tomato plant, regardless of whether or not it's indeterminate. Doing this will ensure that the energy goes to the roots and leaves. Do not overthink or over-prune at this point. I am pruning to one main stem though, so that should help with the oncoming tomato onslaught. This article may contain affiliate links. When pruning suspicious or damaged leaves and stems, be sure to keep them out of your compost bin to avoid passing the disease on. Further, keeping tomato plants off the ground reduces common fungal diseases like early blight, Septoria leaf spot, Pruning enhances production – more tomatoes, bigger tomatoes, and more flavorful tomatoes. The key to success with tomato plants is pruning! These varieties will mature within a month or two, all at once, and usually grow at the end of the branch. When your tomato plants are growing, they have one main … Additionally, indeterminate varieties will also need a trellis or some sort of support. Our last bit of pruning usually comes in mid to late summer. 10 Indoor Gardening Ideas You Have to Try! Excerpted from the LSU Ag Center. Before jumping into the process, you need to have the proper equipment to get the job done. Be sure when finished to wipe down or wash the blades to keep any contamination at bay. Indeterminate varieties grow like vines, and they must be trained upright on poles and pruned in order to grow correctly. At least 2 to 3 feet tall. When garden space is a premium or you are training tomatoes to a ladder or stake it is best to prune your tomato plants to one or two main stems only. Pruning cherry tomato plants can help your garden produce better. Tomato cages or towers This way, the more productive branches that remain can continue to develop their fruit. In that case, start your pruning from the bottom of tomato plants. This type of pruning is called “topping” and it causes the plant to stop flowering and fruiting and directs all energy to the remaining fruit. Steps to prune Early Girl tomato plants Pruning the lower 12"-18" of the plant, helps to prevent back splash from the ground when it rains or when you water. Pinch off all suckers to create a compact and sturdy plant that can easily be supported. Others will say that it’s the foliage that makes the sugar so if you have more foliage you’ll have more sugar for the extra fruit. Even better, it makes plants easier to maintain with weeding, watering and fertilizing chores. Whatever you decide, here are some things that are good to know about pruning tomato plants. If you have to cut them, do so with a sharp knife and make the cut as close as possible to the stem. For best results, plant tomatoes in rich, well draining soil. It not only makes a huge difference in a tomato plant’s overall health, but also spurs on a more productive crop. Some swear that you must prune, and others are adamantly against pruning. Believe it or not, one of the most important chores you can perform to ensure success for your tomato plants is to prune them! Since indeterminate tomato plants can get extremely large and will keep producing tomatoes all season, they can handle some pruning. Indeterminate tomato plants need routine pruning because they grow until the first frost. Don't forget to share, Pin, and comment below . And, Angus says, “That means pruning them.” To understand how best to prune your plant, it’s a good idea to understand these basic points about the structure of a tomato plant: As an added benefit, it also give you easy access to the root zones of our plants for watering and fertilizing. They are considered ‘bush’ plants and can grow in a contained pot with little support. Regarding supports for tomatoes, I've been using the stake and weave method. Pruning, or selectively removing some of the tomato plant growth, can improve harvestable yields and prolong the harvest season. Reply. These spores are easily transmitted to plants when they splash up on the lower leaves of plants. Be sure not to remove any leaves near fruit clusters though. Additional tomato pruning tips. It depends both on the conditions in your garden and your goals. There are higher chances your tomato will turn red. The right time and proper way of pruning tomato plants can bring you the ultimate success in the harvest. Like this post? In addition, it’s best to prune tomatoes early in the morning or late evening. Indeterminate tomato varieties grow as vines, and will therefore produce much more fruit. Here’s a guide for how to prune tomatoes throughout the growing season. Pruning is a common part of tomato plant care. Expert say that those leaves are the ones that send sugar to the fruit, so be sure to leave those intact. Indeterminate tomato plants need routine pruning because they grow until the first frost. Determinate, or bush tomatoes, tend to be smaller and more manageable. Pruning is the act of trimming excess growth to limit disease. But by clearing out the lower branches and foliage, you reduce the chance of infection and spread. As a rule, pruning is most helpful for indeterminate tomato varieties — large plants that continue to grow taller and produce fruit until killed by frost. For large, indeterminate varieties like Brandywine, Black Krim, etc., more space should be cleared. You should only prune indeterminate varieties. Below are links to four short courses in the pruning jobs you will encounter as they grow. Pruning tomato plants is completely up to each and every gardener. The Whys of Pruning Tomatoes This is the sucker we’re going to keep!One time someone I know (not me, I swear!) We'll show you how to prune tomato plants for maximum yield and also why you should prune them so you have a better understanding. Pruning tomato plants and pinching off sucker stems are two of the best ways to improve a tomato plant’s health, vitality, and production. Pruning, or selectively removing some of the tomato plant growth, can improve harvestable yields and prolong the harvest season. Suckers are the enemy! As always, feel free to email us at thefarm@owgarden.com with comments, questions, or to simply say hello! As the plant continues to grow and fill out, you can continue to prune up to get to the full height of open space. How much to prune up from the bottom depends on what type of tomato plant you are growing. As with most things in life, there really isn't one best answer. It's important to prune to leaves on the lower bottom so they do not touch the soil. Not only will it help to prevent weeds, it keeps the soil moisture and temperature regulated. Here are some indeterminate tomato varieties you can grow: Determinate tomato varieties will reach a certain point and then stop growing altogether. For best results, remove suckers when they're small, so you can pinch them with your fingers and not damage the plant. Know Your Pruning Tools. Below are links to four short courses in the pruning jobs you will encounter as they grow. Pruning, or selectively removing some of the tomato plant growth, can improve harvestable yields and prolong the harvest season. Part of the series: Growing Tomatoes. But perhaps best of all – it is one of the easiest garden chores you will ever perform! Tomato plants can grow wildly during the early summer. – Jim and Mary. When planting, remove any flowers. Speed up tomato ripening late in the season by removing the tip of each main stem. Prune away the flowers until the tomato plant is at least a foot tall, better yet 18 inches. Prune off or trim back some of the largest leaves to further thin it, control the size, and stimulate fruit growth. One very important thing to keep in mind though, is the variety of tomato you're growing – this will determine whether or not you should prune your tomato plants. This is the one closest to the ground.Step 2: Keep one hand on that cluster. Rutgers University has a good description of the process at . It also trains the plant to focus on developing its fruit instead of growing branches. Tips for Pruning a Tomato Plant. On an individual plant, pruning will decrease yield by around 10%. Start by removing the first few branches early on. I never knew this about heirloom tomatoes. Keep removing any flowers you see until the tomato plants are about 12 to 18 inches in height. Removing Bottom Branches And Foliage Any smaller than this, and the plant may not recover from the shock of being pruned. Further, keeping tomato plants off the ground reduces common fungal diseases like early blight, Septoria leaf spot, and anthracnose, and improves fruit quality. In this way, your plant will be able to invest most of its energy into producing tomatoes. Let's take a quick look at what the difference between determinate and indeterminate varieties is. Pruning is a lot simpler than you might expect, especially if you do a bit every week so the plants don’t become overgrown. These growing tips are sometimes called shoots or suckers. 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