Pruning tomato plants is an optional technique that some gardeners use to keep plants in order, affect fruit size and even speed up ripening. However, there is something to keep in mind: you should only prune varieties that constantly produce new leaves and flowers throughout the growing season. There are many people who do not prune tomato plants at all and still grow good tomatoes. These crops are not among those that need pruning to thrive, but wise pruning can improve the quality of the fruit you harvest. Here are helpful tricks on how to prune tomatoes to produce bountiful harvests.
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Why should you prune back tomato plants?
The main reason for pruning tomato plants is so the plant can focus its energy on producing fruit rather than more foliage. Unpruned foliage eventually grows into new branches that produce fruit. However, most experienced growers advise pruning tomatoes not only to produce larger fruit earlier in the season, but also to protect the plants from pests and diseases.
Even if your tomato plants are on the ground, you should prune them. If the leaves are constantly in the shade, as is the case with bushy plants on the ground, sugar production will be reduced. When a tomato plant is properly pruned, all of the foliage receives adequate sunlight and the plant can photosynthesize more efficiently, which promotes growth and fruiting.
How to properly prune tomatoes – tricks.
The 3 most important rules when pruning tomatoes that you should not forget are:
- Lift the plants off the ground.
- Give plants room to grow.
- Never prune or tie plants when the leaves are wet.
Pruning tomatoes – Keep the following in mind.
If you are growing tomato plants that produce fruit regularly over the course of a season, pruning is essential. This helps keep the usually huge vines under control, and it encourages the plant to produce several large tomatoes rather than lots of foliage and many smaller tomatoes. To fit more plants into a small space, prune your tomato plants regularly and add climbing towers, spiral bars or planting sticks to them. This will prevent the plants from becoming too tall and bushy. However, tomatoes will continue to grow in height, and as long as the plant is growing, fruit will be harvested. These varieties need large planting sticks for support because they grow so long.
What do you need to prune your tomato plants?
- Small, sharp pruning shears or sharp knife
- Planting sticks and twine (as needed).
Prune tomatoes back when planting
Remove the lower leaves when planting so you can dig the plants deep into the soil. Remove any flowers that are present at planting (even if they were present when the plant was purchased) so that energy at this early stage goes into leaf growth rather than fruiting.
Cut tomatoes early / mid-season
If you have decided to prune tomato plants, you need to make sure that you do it right to reduce the risk of disease . Pruning from the tomato bush should begin when the plant is about 30-60 cm high. At a lower height, the plant may not recover from the shock of pruning. Remove the flowers until the plants so that the plants can direct more energy to the roots.
When your tomato plant reaches this size, it will have branches that branch off the main stem. Where these branches meet, an additional branch grows. It is called a stingy shoot. Cut these small offshoots (leaf-bearing shoots) with pruning shears. Use a sharp knife or shears to make a clean cut as close to the main trunk as possible without damaging the trunk tissue. The best time to prune tomato plants is early in the morning on a dry day. This allows the pruning wounds to heal cleanly and reduces the risk of disease attack on the plant.
When pruning and stubbing out tomatoes, be sure to water the plants from below (for example, with a water hose) rather than from above (for example, with a sprinkler). This will help you avoid splashing soil on the tomato plants and causing injury to the plants.
Cut off tomato shoots – late season.
As the growing season draws to a close, tomato plants are often still laden with fruit. To speed late-season ripening, remove the top of each main shoot about four weeks before the first expected fall frost. This type of pruning will cause the plant to stop flowering and setting new fruit, instead directing all the sugar to the remaining fruit.
This way, the fruit will ripen faster and it is more likely that the green tomatoes you pick before frost will actually ripen when you bring them indoors. It may be hard to make yourself do it, but it’s worth it if you want ripe tomatoes.