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 tomato plant.
Pruning First Suckers
Pruning tomatoes should be done about once a week by pinching off the “suckers” in the “V” of the main stem and branches (See below picture). If the suckers have grown too large they should be cut with pruning shears, carefully, so that the plant is not damaged.
These suckers are great to through into your compost pile.
Additional Tomato 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 are not necessary for the plants survival. Therefore, these lower branches can be removed.
Also, if the plant starts to grow taller than you would like, you can cut the top branch off 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.
How to Prune Determinate Tomatoes at the End of the Season?
Determinate tomatoes also known as bush tomatoes grow on average up to 3 and half to 4 feet. And they naturally stop growing. The prunning must be done at lower level, target the lower leaves and/or suckers at the bottom of tomato plants. The main reason and benefit of this practice is that will improve airflow which in return may help reduce foliar diseases.
A well kept up tomato plant will produce large, flavorful tomatoes and it will be producing abundately until the temperatures drop, if it is an indeterminate tomato variety.
About 4 weeks prior to the first frost it is recommended that the extra tomato sucker and its new flowers be cut off the plant.
This will also allow the plant to focus on ripening the fruit that is currently hanging on the plant’s branches much quicker, to ensure you are able to harvest the tomatoes before it freezes outside.
Happy Tomato Pruning!