Pruning Tomato Plants
The majority of home gardeners grow tomato plants. Tomatoes are easy to grow,
and are prolific producers. While many tomato gardeners do not give pruning
a thought, this simple garden technique can result in bigger, better tomatoes,
and a healthier pant that will produce far longer, than a plant that is not
Why Prune Tomato Plants?
It's kinda funny, as gardeners, we practice the technique of pruning roses
and many other flowers. We even prune some of our garden veggies. But, when
it comes to tomatoes, we often just "let 'em grow!"
The time and effort you spend pruning tomato plants will reap big rewards.
Before we get into how to prune tomatoes, here are some reasons why
we SHOULD prune them.
The benefits of pruning include:
Produce bigger tomatoes
Higher yield (quantity and weight)
Plant Health - minimize plant disease, provide more air circulation and light.
Re-invigorate plant growth...new leaves and branches grow faster.
To limit plant size of indeterminate vine types.
Aesthetics - to remove dead , weak, or unsightly branches.
TIP: If you are trying to grow a truely giant tomato, prune plants
heavily, and leave only one or two tomatoes growing on a vine.
Record Giant Tomato
How to Prune Tomato Plants:
Pruning tomato plants is easy. All you need is a sharp hand pruner.
TIP: Wear gloves and a long-sleeve shirt when working with tomato
plants. The plant leaves and vines have a mild toxin, that can irritate your
When the plants are young, about 12" tall, snip off the bottom two to four
branches. This will direct the plant's energy to growing taller, and keep
lower vines from creating too dense of a foliage. Prune plants so there are
no vines off the main trunk below 6-8 inches from the ground. This also allows
easy access for weeding and fertilizing at the base of the plant. As the
season progresses, continue to remove suckers in this area.
Allow 2-4 branches (vines) to form. These are the main branches that will
continue to grow all season long.
Be watchful for suckers, a few are okay. Too many suckers will result in
a plant that is too bushy.
Thin out bushy plants. When a plant is too bushy, air circulation and sunlight
can not reach all of the leaves. If sunlight does not reach the inner leaves,
it turns yellow and serves little purpose. Also, a lack of sunlight and air
circulation provides a place for plant disease to harbor and grow.
Prune any broken, dead or damaged leaves and branches as they appear.
Snip off and remove any infected branches and leaves as soon as you spot
them.. Dispose of diseased plant material, so the disease does not spread.
Topping off plants- Some growers top their plants off at a certain height.
We do not encourage plants to be topped off. Cutting off the growing tips,
limits the plant's potential production of flowers and fruit.
TIP: Staking or caging tomato plants is all but a must. It helps with
plant health, and keeps the fruit from rotting on the ground.
More on Caging Tomatoes
Learn all about growing Tomatoes:
A Tomato Press - make sauce and juice for canning tomatoes .
Garden Tomato Recipes:
Mania More on growing and pruning tomatoes, from Garden
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