After growing tomato plants from seed, or picking up transplants, getting them in the garden, watching them grow and flourish, can all feel really exciting and hopeful. Once they start growing they may start getting a bit out of control and you might start wondering if it’s time to be think about pruning. There are a few things to consider when it comes to pruning tomato plants and keeping them healthy and happy.
One of the first things you’ll need to consider is if your tomato plants are determinate or indeterminate. If you have a determinate variety of tomato, you don’t need to prune. Determinate tomato plants have a determined size, and once they get flowers and start producing fruit, the plant will stop growing.
You can watch our Facebook Live video for more detailed explanation on this and for some examples of how to prune.
With indeterminate plants you are really looking at pruning the bottom 12 inches. This will help prevent browning and possible fungus problems from water splashing up on the leaves. A side stem grows directly off the main stem. Suckers are new branches that grow out of the tomato’s main stem, just above a leaf branch or side stem , also known as in the “crotch”. When you prune suckers, plants use less energy in producing extra branches and leaves and put more energy into the fruit.
Pruning also allows for good circulation, which helps reduce blight problems. When you prune suckers, leaves stay drier and diseases don’t spread as easily. It also opens up the plant for sun to reach the fruit which will help it to ripen.
You can use any sort of garden pruners, but a good practice is to dip your pruners after each cut in some hydrogen peroxide. That way if there were any disease problems in the plant, you’re not going to spread and infect the rest of the plant. You prune to about 1/8 inch from the main trunk. Ideally any pruning you do should be done on a sunny day which will help seal off and heal the wound where you pruned.
Pruning tomato plants isn’t necessary, but it can help with the size and quantity of your tomatoes. Do you prune your tomato plants or just let them go? Leave a comment and let me know. 🙂
You can catch up on the last few posts on the Grow with Me and Wile’s Lake Farm Market series here:
“Grow with Me and Wile’s Lake Farm Market” is sponsored by Wile’s Lake Farm Market located in Wileville, Nova Scotia. Their knowledgeable staff is also available to answer any questions you might have about pruning your tomatoes.