Gardener pruning tomatoes in a greenhouse, horizontal

Tomate pruning is an issue to some growers as they have not had really good experiences with it in the past, but it isn’t so much hard as the fact that it has to be done regularly and to the ideal tomato plants. This is where some growers have come unstuck. They haven’t pruned early enough to the crops that need it and then aren’t certain how to handle the circumstance. In other cases they might have pruned plants which should have been pruned and ended up with hardly any berries to show for their efforts.

Which crops to prune

It’s the indeterminate tomato plant (the bigger varieties) that requires pruning because for the life span of the plant it will keep producing suckers in the leaf nodes. Some growers may allow a couple of suckers to grow into full stalks with the intent of providing more fruit, but not more than that, otherwise the plant will not have the ability to feed the fruit satisfactorily and they’ll be smaller rather than bigger. Although I have to say, I’ve seen photographs of tomato plants which show the plant to have been more like a tropical blossom as opposed to a tomato plant. Goodness knows what the success rate is of the fruiting of this plant.

Start with removing the reduced 4 to 5 leaves because this will push the nutrients higher up the plant for stronger growth and it is going to also create watering and fertilizing the plant easier. Pruning requires the sucker to be eliminated at the leaf node (where the leaf joins the main stem).

Two ways of pruning

The Simple Method

    • If possible simply use your finger tips to eliminate the suckers, as opposed to a knife or scissors that will leave a stump behind this can easily become infected. If the suckers are extremely small they simply need bending backwards and forward and they will easily break off in the perfect location.
    • If at all possible pinch the sucker if it’s only about two inches long since this will mean it will still be quite tender and come off easily without leaving a gaping hole in the join.
    • If the sucker is longer and a bit leathery you’ll want to use a blade, rather use a retractable blade as they are thin and will not damage the plant exactly like scissors or kitchen knife. Cut the sucker parallel to the main stem of this plant.

The Missouri method

    • The grower hasn’t had time to pinch the tiny suckers for many weeks and they’ve gotten out of control and very long; or
    • The suckers have been left to grow and make more leaf growth so the fruit has more depart protection from sunlight at a later date. (The two or three suckers which were left for fruiting don’t get tipped however they do have the tiny suckers in the leaf nodes removed.)

To prune these suckers the very tip has to be pinched off and the leaves and stalk left behind. One drawback of allowing the suckers get long and supplying more foliage cover is that today there are more joins for new suckers to grow out of and much more pruning to do.

Determinate plants

The determinate tomatoes plants aren’t pruned but are left to grow since they’re more bushy and don’t grow suckers. The fruit on those plants really form in the end of the branches so if they’re pruned it is going to indicate that the plant will provide less fruit.

Tomato pruning isn’t difficult but just needs a little care so the plant itself isn’t damaged. If it can be done weekly then the tomato plant shouldn’t get out of control. For the sake of controlling pests and disease guarantee that any plants components (suckers or leaves) which are taken out of the plant are placed in the garbage.