Once you have your tomatoes in your garden it’s best to know how to prune them correctly. Pruning a tomato plant can increase your fruit size and help lessen the chance your plants will catch a disease.
There are two main types of tomato plants. Determinate plants are more of the bush variety and do not grow very tall. These types of tomatoes do not need to be, but can be pruned. It is the indeterminate tomatoes, the ones you would normally trellis or cage that grow all year long that need pruning the most.
The first step to pruning a tomato plant is to keep removing all blossoms from the plant until it reaches about 12-18 inches tall. As your tomato plant grows, it develops two leader steams and from these stems axles are grown which produce the fruit. Suckers are extra stem growths that protrude between a leader stem and an axle stem. You can prune your plants all season long, but it’s best to begin when the suckers grow to about 2-3 inches long. . It’s very easy to squeeze the bottom of the sucker stem and twist it right off. You should do this to all suckers that start to grow below the two leader stems.
Pruning indeterminate tomatoes
Removing the suckers will invigorate your tomato plants and put more growth into the leader stems, which in turn will produce more fruit. You should be pruning your tomatoes every 7-10 days while the leaves are completely dry. You do not want to handle the plants at all when they are wet because it can spread bacteria and disease.
When the end of the season is near, about 30 days before the expected first frost, it’s best to remove the tops of the leader stems. This will force your plants energy to ripen the remaining fruit while it inhibits any new growth.
Some people will decide not to prune their tomato plants at all. They feel that getting more tomatoes is more important than size. This may be true, however yield size can not compare to the tomatoes a pruned plant will produce. The fruits will be larger and juicier from a pruned plant. Pruned plants produce tastier and greater tomatoes that will satisfy any gardner. So learn the basics of pruning and you will be on your way to the best looking tomatoes on your block! -KATIE FLYNN