Tiny tomato seedlings can vigorously turn into huge bushes in no time. In fact, they’ve even been known to bend cages and pull stakes out of the ground!
However, when it comes to growing tomatoes, less is more. Fewer leaves mean air circulates better and leaves dry quicker, reducing the risk of disease.
Plants with less density direct energy toward producing bigger fruit. Plus, tomatoes often ripen earlier after a good pruning, allowing you to enjoy your harvest sooner.
Here are some helpful tips for pruning your tomatoes this season.
1. Find out if your tomato plant is a determinate or indeterminate variety. Determinate varieties often thrive with less attention because they only produce one crop of tomatoes. Indeterminate varieties, on the other hand, require frequent maintenance because they produce tomatoes all season.
2. Pinch or snip flowers until plants are 12-18” tall. When the first green fruit appears, remove all suckers, ie leaves beneath that cluster.
4. As the plant continues to fruit and flower, chose a few strong stems to produce tomatoes and prune the rest. Though this results in less fruit, tomatoes will be bigger and juicier.
5. Continue removing unnecessary suckers and flowers at least once a week during peak growing season. Eliminate suckers while they are still small enough to remove by hand. If you need to use a tool, be sure to use a sharp pruner blade to make a clean cut.
Grow Up, Not Out
Tie tomato plants to a support such as a stake or a trellis to promote upward growth. This keeps tomatoes off the ground, keeping pests and diseases at bay. Vertically grown tomatoes are ultimately easier to prune because unnecessary suckers and leaves are more visible.
Though plants may now be better protected from insects and disease, staked and pruned plants may be more susceptible to blossom end rot and sunscald. Get a better harvest than you ever thought possible by giving tomatoes what they need!