Even though I love even the small or ugly tomatoes, I prune some of my tomato plants for the sheer beauty of a big, hearty tomato. The farm planted thousands of tomatoes, and for a few days each summer the whole staff would line up and down the tomato rows prune the tomato plants. 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. Not all types of tomatoes need to be pruned. Removing the stems and leaves at … Pruning an indeterminate plant though will give you a higher yield, and so most gardeners prefer to do so. The answer to this question is actually a personal one. I hope you’ll test it in your garden like I did. 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. By using The Spruce, you accept our. Seeing the results of removing the tomato plant suckers at the farm convinced me to try it on my own plants at home. 3 Reasons Why You Should Prune Your Tomatoes. If the seed pod contains more than one tomato plant, you should clip the rest of them off using scissors. There’s no one right way to do it. Although the results of my experiment have led me to stop or at least limit the pruning I do on my own tomato plants, I do not necessarily believe my method is right for everyone. So, as stated, the decision to prune tomato plants is one that you will have to make with your own best judgment. Of course, tomato pruning isn't a required chore, no matter which type of tomato you're growing. I highly recommend that you prune your plant early so that your tomato can get the most energy possible. The main reason to prune tomato plants is that it helps your plant direct its energy toward producing fruit rather than producing more foliage. There are two main things that will help your tomato pruning efforts: the time of day and the weather. Determinate, or bush tomatoes, tend to be smaller and more manageable. 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. But the study did not find that pruning tomato suckers ever helped with the yield of the plant. Pruning tomato plants is completely up to each and every gardener. Unpruned foliage will eventually grow into new branches that will form fruit, but most experienced growers advise that tomatoes should be pruned to not only produce larger fruit earlier in the season but also to protect the plants against pest and disease problems. Pruning the lower 12"-18" of the plant, helps to prevent back splash from the ground when it rains or when you water. Below are links to four short courses in the pruning jobs you will encounter as they grow. By the time your tomato plant gets to be this size, the plant will have branches coming off the main stem. No, you do not have to prune your tomato plant, regardless of whether or not it's indeterminate. You want to start pruning tomato plants a when they get to be about 1 – 2 feet (30-60 cm.) And, whether pruning the tomatoes improved the fruit just depended on luck as to whether or not the tomato plant developed disease because of the pruning. tall. If you're growing indeterminate tomatoes, which produce fruit regularly over the course of a season, pruning is essential. Determinate tomato plants are those that grow to a predetermined size, produce a crop of fruit and then die. Pinch the new suckers soon after they appear. There is one big catch: You should only prune indeterminate varieties, which produce new leaves and flowers continuously through the growing season. Pruning, in particular, is often portrayed as a dark art, with dire consequences for your crop if you get it w Whenever possible, remove the suckers when they are small. You'll get bigger tomatoes. Where these branches meet, you will see and additional branch growing. Garden Hose Information: Learn About Using Hoses In The Garden, Soaker Hose Irrigation: How To Use Soaker Hoses In The Lawn And Garden, The Ultimate Guide To Growing Tomatoes: A List Of Tomato Growing Tips, Grocery Store Squash Seeds - Can You Grow Squash From The Store, How To Plant Grocery Store Scallions - Can You Regrow Store Bought Scallions, Planting Seeds From A Store Bought Cucumber - Can You Plant Grocery Store Cucumber Seeds, Starting Plants From Produce: Pineapple Tops, Vegetable Gardening Is A Long-Term Commitment. Your answer to the question of, “Should I prune my tomato plants?” is your own, but now you have some additional information on why and how to prune tomato plants. Branches that are low-hanging and touching the ground should either be staked up or removed. 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. Download our FREE Tomato Growing Guide and learn how to grow delicious tomatoes. This results in a more desirable break from the stem than would occur with the use of … This will prevent the splashing of soil up onto the tomato plant and the tomato plants wounds. This is called a tomato sucker. Some people assert firmly that pruning tomato suckers improves the production and health of a plant. tall. If you choose to prune tomato plants, make sure that you use watering methods that water the tomato plants at the soil level (like soaker hoses) rather than from above (like sprinklers). Where these branches meet, you will see and additional branch growing. But, on an anecdotal level, a great many Master Gardeners recommend the practice of pruning tomato plants. -- Pruning AeroGarden tomatoes at 4-5 weeks. The way you choose to train and prune your tomato plants will affect how you space your plants, as well as the best method of support . When it does, at about one inch, you should check every seed pod that you have. The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. What Are Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes? Any smaller than this, and the plant may not recover from the shock of being pruned. Leaves touching the ground can be susceptible to bacteria, fungi, and viral infections that can spread through the rest of the plant. Nipping blooms off tomato plants could help fruit ripen faster: Ask an expert Updated Aug 18, 2020; Posted Aug 15, 2020 Removing blooms from tomato plants … To prune, you simply remove these suckers. Most of us understand that if suckers are pruned too much, plants may have reduced yield. There are a couple of good reasons why you should prune your indeterminate tomato plants to keep them healthy. Indeterminate tomatoes usually grow on trellises and need to be spaced only a foot apart. It also allows for adequate light penetration and air flow around plants. Unpruned foliage will eventually grow into new branches that will form fruit, but most experienced growers advise that tomatoes should be pruned to not only produce larger fruit earlier in the season but also to protect the plants against pest and disease problems . The best time to prune tomato plants is in the early morning on a dry day. 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. 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.. Some growers decide not to prune at all, and some go over the top with pruning. Because determinate plants develop all of their fruit at one time, pruning may cause you to sacrifice tomatoes for no reason. How do I prune my AeroGarden tomato plants? unlocking this expert answer. The best way to do this is with your fingers, twisting the sucker until it snaps off. Your plants will get more airflow, and, therefore, be healthier. After that, you should see some sprouting happening. You want to start pruning tomato plants a when they get to be about 1 – 2 feet (30-60 cm.) Using a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears, snip these small sucker branches off. Removing large amounts of foliage at one time can stress the plant. Any smaller than this, and the plant may not recover from the shock of being pruned. It also allows for adequate light penetration and air flow around plants. Determinate or Indeterminate. Pruning Tomato Plants. As the plant grows, prune out any crossing, crowded, damaged, or diseased stems and foliage to keep the plant open, airy, and free of pest and disease. How to Prune Indeterminate Tomato Plants. This is especially … This is called a tomato sucker. Colleen Vanderlinden is a freelance writer and the author of Edible Gardening for the Midwest. Should I prune my tomato plants? Pruning up the bottom of plants allows for better air circulation, and better plant health. University of New Hampshire Extension. It really is that simple. And, since that fateful day, I’ve pruned my tomatoes every year. The benefit of this practice is to improve airflow which may help to control foliar diseases. 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. Shoots of determinate tomatoes stop growing once they set a terminal bud. Why Do the Ends of My Tomatoes Stay Green? 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. Should I prune my tomato plants? Basic Pruning for Healthy Growth Prune Lower Growth From Tomatoes For Health Should tomato plants be pruned or not? The common practice is to prune the suckers at the bottom of tomato plants. Looking for additional tips on growing perfect tomatoes? One has to wonder if these people who work with plants all the time and are considered the ultimate experts in their field know something that the scientific types have missed. Each sucker of an indeterminate tomato essentially produces a whole new plant, so pruning them makes this close spacing possible. There are several ways to prune tomato plants, depending on the type of tomato and the support you use. The key to success with tomato plants is pruning! Others claim that pruning tomato suckers damages the plant unnecessarily, opening it up to disease and doing nothing to actually help. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! Prune the cherry tomato plant to one or at most two main stems, and remove lower branches to deter splashback reinfection of pathogens left in the dirt from previous years. So, scientifically speaking, who is right? (The first pruning, at 4-5 weeks, is critical for building strong stems that will support fruit.) I have my tomato plants in cages and I have a juliet tomato plant that is about 5 ft tall with about 70 green tomatos so far. It's recommended that you prune in the mornings, as unwanted stems will break away easier. This will redirect the plant’s energy from flower formation to developing strong roots. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. In fact, it can even damage the plant and lower your yield. Look for the tomato "suckers," which grow in the "V" space between the main stem and the branches on your tomato plant. If left unpruned, these suckers will eventually grow into full-sized branches—adding lots of foliage and, eventually, a few fruits. This will allow for the wounds from the pruning to heal cleanly and will reduce the chances of the plant being infected by disease. To prune or not to prune tomato plants is an option tomato growers have. Sign up for our newsletter. When it comes to pruning tomato plants, it’s all about clearing space to promote better air circulation, provide more light, and keep pests and disease at bay. But by clearing out the lower branches and foliage, you reduce the chance of infection and spread. Read our, The Spruce uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Tomatoes don't like to dry out but they also don't like to stay wet. Side stems affect plant vigor. Do I Have to Prune My Tomato Plant? I answer this question about pruning tomatoes and more! Suckers under two 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. Plenty of people do not prune at all and still grow good tomatoes. The Difference Between Vining and Bush Tomatoes, Determinate Versus Indeterminate Tomatoes, 3 Tomato Plant Problems and How to Prevent Them, Identifying and Controlling Early Blight on Tomato Plants. Especially when it rains or when plants are watered. Yes. tall. I hope you’ll test it in your garden like I did. A tomato tree in Epcot's Land Pavilion at Walt Disney World broke records in 2016 when it produced a one-year harvest of 32,000 tomatoes. As a tomato grows, side shoots, or suckers, form in the crotches, or axils, between the leaves and the main stem. 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