How To Prune Tomatoes

We grow a large amount of tomatoes on the homestead. My goal is to grow 100 tomatoes but we have made it up to 80 so far. The type of tomatoes I grow are indeterminate, which means they are vining tomatoes that continue to grow up a trellis for the entire growing season.

This one needs a hair cut!

Indeterminate tomatoes require quite a bit of pruning throughout the season. Your main goal at the beginning of the season, after planting, is to prune off the leaves at the bottom of the plant. You don’t want any leaves touching the ground because of the chance of blight.

Suckers needing pruned

Next you want to come out at least once or twice a week to pinch off the suckers. Suckers are small shoots that grow where the stem and the branch of the tomato plant meet. They use energy from the main stem and it will decrease the growth of your plant. You want vertical growth, especially in the beginning, so that you can easily trellis your tomatoes. With indeterminate tomatoes this vertical growth will not be a problem if you keep up with the pruning.

I only pinch off the suckers the first few weeks in the ground. After that I leave the suckers on and just let the plant grow. I continue to prune at the bottom of the plant, keeping any foliage off the ground. I highly recommend using weed fabric for your tomatoes. We use it in our garden and love it! It holds in the moisture, eliminates most of the weeds, and helps discourage blight.

All pruned!

Determinate tomatoes are more of a bush variety instead of vining. They will only require you to prune about 6 inches or so from the ground. They will need some sort of support to hold them up from the weight of the fruit.

Benefits of Pruning

Pruning away unnecessary foliage increases air flow for your plants and discourages disease. It also encourages plant growth and increases fruit production.

The first time I pruned my tomatoes my husband kept asking me “Are you sure your not going to kill the plants?” Don’t worry though, in a few days you will be surprised at how fast the tomatoes will grow.

Now that you are off to a great start growing tomatoes, read my post on how to make tomato sauce.

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