Video: Early Pruning of Tomato Plants

comments (8) August 1st, 2011

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DanielleGardenGirl Danielle Sherry, contributor
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Video Length: 2:20
Produced by: Kate Geruntho Frank. Videography: Gary Junken.


Tomatoes are surprisingly easy to maintain. Young tomato plants will need some initial pruning early in the season. Here's how to ensure that your tomatoes remain healthy and produce delicious fruit.

Step 1: Remove all of the branches below the first flower cluster.

You'll know it's time to start pruning your tomato plants when you notice your plant's first flowers. Remove all of the branches that are growing below the first set of flower buds. While it may seem drastic, there are two good reasons to do this: First, low-growing branches tend to become diseased because they're so close to the soil. And second, since none of the lower branches will produce fruit, those branches will just drain the plant of its energy.

Step 2: Remove all suckers.

Suckers are small, secondary branches, or side shoots, that appear in the crotch area, or axil, between the branches and the main stem. Suckers drain the tomato plant of precious energy that would be better used producing tomatoes for you to eat.

Once you've completed these maintenance tasks, your tomatoes will be off to a great start.


posted in: tomatoes, pruning

Comments (8)

gregdraiss writes: Determinate tomatoes are generally shorter and stockier than indeterminate varieties. Other than that one needs to know the name of the variety..............
Posted: 9:44 am on June 20th
gregdraiss writes: I cannot disagree more about leaves using up all the plants energy. Leaves are the solar panels of the plant world. Leaves produce food for plants they do not net users of energy.
Posted: 9:43 am on June 20th
MikeTheGardener writes: Excellent video! I have given the "remove all the suckers" advice in the past, without being near a tomato plant and those who are new to growing tomatoes, look at me like I am crazy!

Having the video, and more importantly a link to it, will make that advice much easier to pass along.

Your two tips...

"First, low-growing branches tend to become diseased because they're so close to the soil. And second, since none of the lower branches will produce fruit, those branches will just drain the plant of its energy."

...are spot on. They will drain much needed nutrients from the rest of the plant that would otherwise go towards the fruit!
Posted: 11:54 am on March 9th
Ruth writes: Canelda, Chris McLaughlin explains indeterminate vs. determinate here: http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/5809/tomato-plants-determinate-indeterminate-and-vffnta
Posted: 8:50 am on June 14th
Canelda writes: Canelda writes: I love watching the videos you provide for us. I do have a question, however. One video shows us how to prune our tomato plants in order to get the plant to be more productive. Another video shows how to prune tomatoes but with a caution: We need to know if our plant is a determinate tomato or an indeterminate tomato. How do we tell the difference? Can someone please help me before I attempt this process and make a mistake?

Thanks and happy tomatoes!!!!
Posted: 9:16 am on June 13th
mrgardenboy writes: thankyou for the tips
Posted: 7:40 pm on June 2nd
DanielleGardenGirl writes: I would still do some pruning to your tomatoes at this late date. Although you will be sacrificing some of the flowers and immature tomatoes on the lower branches, it will ensure that the other tomatoes that develop will be strong, big, and disease free. And yes, always eliminate one branch from double branches.
Posted: 10:31 am on July 28th
enchantedfamiliarfm writes: Our tomatoes have had blossoms on them for quite some time now and some even have tomatoes. I was wondering if I could still prune them. Or should I wait until next year? Most of our tomatoes are having double branches. Should I sacrafice a branch at the bottom that has flowers and tomatoes or just let them be?
Posted: 11:52 pm on July 25th
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