Pruning tomatoes helps to keep the plants within a confined garden space. It can also help counter their sprawling nature, keeping the fruit off the ground and healthy. Diligent pruning will reward you with an abundant, delicious harvest.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Prune tomato plants when they are growing too large for their allocated area. Always use sharp, clean shears when working with vegetable crops to prevent spreading disease.
Pinch branch tips throughout the growing season to encourage tomato plants to grow bushy and full. Remove only the last set of two leaves, including the stem, each time you pinch a branch.
Remove entire unwanted or non-blooming branches to keep plants contained. Some foliage is necessary to shade developing fruit and prevent sun scald.
Continuously remove any dead or faded foliage from tomato plants. Keep only the growth that is green and healthy. Try not to cut away branches that are flowering.
Train tomatoes to grow on a trellis to save precious garden space. Growing vertically also makes it easier to locate and harvest the crop. Tuck stray branches inside the trellis, or remove them completely if they are not bearing flowers.
Tips and warnings
- Tomatoes are vines and will sprawl along the ground unless otherwise directed. Fruit left on the ground is susceptible to rot or attack by slugs.
- Incorporate crushed egg shells into the soil around the base of tomato plants to supply calcium. Calcium prevents a fungal disease called 'Blossom End Rot'.
- Water tomatoes deeply and infrequently to develop intense tomato flavor. Tomato plants have deep roots and don't need much water once they have begun to bloom and set fruit.
- Too much water, or using fertilizer high in nitrogen, may result in lush green plants with no fruit. It may also cause developing fruit to drop.