Tomato plants need weekly love in order to help them produce larger tomatoes and to maximize the harvest. Pruning also helps keep the plant healthy and free from potential diseases and bugs. As a tomato plant grows it starts to develop new growth in-between the main stem and already grown branches. These additional growths are known as “suckers”, because they suck nutrients from the developing fruit.
Pruning tomatoes should be done about once a week by pinching off the “suckers” in the “V” of the main stem and branches. If the suckers have grown too large they should be cut with pruning shears, so that the plant is not damaged. These suckers are great to through into your compost pile.
Additional Pruning Tips
In addition to removing the suckers, the best practice for pruning tomatoes requires removing other unneeded branches. For example, the leaves that are below the first cluster of fruit and not necessary for the plants survival. Therefore, the lower branches can be removed. Also, if the plant starts to grow taller than you would like, you can cut the top branch to reduce its height. Once all of the fruit has ripened and been removed from the stem, the leftover stems can be cut off as well.
Pruning Tomatoes at the End of the Season
A well kept up tomato plant will produce large, flavorful tomatoes and it will keep producing until the temperatures drop if it is an indeterminate variety. About 4 weeks prior to the first frost it is recommended that a all extra growth and new flowers be cut off the plant. This will also the plant to focus on ripening the fruit that is currently on the plant, to ensure you are able to harvest the tomatoes before it freezes outside.
Happy Tomato Pruning!