Tomatoes are known for being some of the most prevalent fruits grown in outside gardens.
These healthy fruits are nutritious and well worth taking the time to grow, especially considering they are one of the most inexpensive, resilient, and aesthetically pleasing plants.
There are over 10 000 variants of tomatoes worldwide taking on different forms, sizes, and colors.
These colors range from the usual ruby red to colors of purple, green, yellow, and many more.
If properly taken care of, tomato plants are capable of producing large yields of fruit! You can even use some of the best fertilizers for tomatoes to help with this process.
A little care and the right pruning methods will go a long way in making your tomato plant a happy plant!
How to prune your tomato plant for maximum yield?
Pruning a tomato plant starts with correctly identifying the tomato plant type you have. When pruning, remove unnecessary leaves to allow the plant to use its energy more effectively to grow fruit. The plant’s “suckers” should be pruned away from the main stem for optimal growth.
The type of tomato you have and pruning
The first step in pruning your tomato plant is identifying what type of tomato plant you have growing in your garden!
There are 2 main tomato plant categories. Namely, these are the determinable and indeterminable plants.
It is very important to identify which one you are growing before you start pruning as the pruning methods are different for each type of plant.
Determinable tomato plants are seasonal and have a short growing period. They reach a certain determined height and thereafter they produce their yield and stop growing.
These plants are ideal for growing in pots and small spaced areas as they take the form of a small bush and do not take up too much space.
Indeterminable plants grow all year long and are much larger than determinable plants. These plants are ideal for growing in gardens with a bit of space as they can get rather large.
You can distinguish a determinable plant from an underminable plant by looking at the leaves and stems of the plant.
A determinable plant has a more bush-like appearance and is usually only about 5 to 6 feet tall. They also stop growing their shoots as they begin to flower.
Owing to the nature of these small plants, pruning is not extremely necessary. The only waste that needs to be removed from the plant is the leaves on the lower stem.
An indeterminable plant has a more vine-like appearance and appears to look wilder. This plant type can reach a height up to 10 or 11 feet tall.
The shoots of these plants continue to grow through flowering and the change of season.
The nature of these types of plants makes it necessary to prune as they continue to grow all year round.
In order to produce maximum yield, indeterminable plants should always be pruned. Thus, you also need to read on how far to plant them so they won’t affect each other’s growth potential.
Pruning and its benefits for your tomato plant
Pruning is an essential and necessary skill for a gardener. You can think of it as the careful removal of certain stems of the plant.
It is when overgrown shoots and leaves, as well as shoots and leaves that are dying or have diseases, are cut off from the main stem of the plant.
The shoots are cut off from the main stem to prevent the plant from exerting unnecessary energy on growing these overgrown leaves and shoots.
By doing this the plant saves a lot more energy and is capable of using its energy for flowering purposes.
The plant will have more energy to produce the tomato flower and this alone will increase the yield of your tomato plant.
If these shoots are not pruned away, they will eventually grow into stems with flowers and fruits.
This is not always an issue when dealing with a determinable plant however, this can cause an indeterminable plant to become extremely heavy and dense with overgrowth.
This overgrowth will ultimately stunt the production of yield.
Tools needed for tomato plant pruning
The best tool to use when pruning a tomato plant would be normal garden clippers. These tools are easy to use and are very effective in cutting away shoots and leaves.
Ensure that the garden clippers are not too big, as larger garden clippers used on a small plant may cause difficulty in cutting the plant and may possibly cause damage.
If you do not have garden clippers you can use a pair of scissors. It is advised that you rather use garden clippers but using scissors in the correct way will not harm your plant.
The best time to prune your tomato plant
The best time to prune a tomato plant would be when your plant has reached a height of about 2 feet tall. By this stage, the plant should have a few shoots growing from the main stem.
To avoid the plant being infected with disease, prune it in the early morning on a dry day.
This will allow for the plant to dry out and heal during the day, preventing harm and infection.
3 Major steps in pruning a tomato plant
Step one: Cut out all the plant’s suckers.
If you’re a newbie gardener, you can identify suckers as a plant’s shoot that forms in the joint where the stem and a leaf meet.
They occur on both variants of tomatoes, determinables, and indeterminables. If these shoots are not pruned away, the plant will become heavy and dense with overgrowth.
Step two: Detach the side stems from your tomato plant.
As your plant begins to flower you should remove all the side stems on the main stem of the plant, from the bottom of the plant all the way up to the first flower.
This is important as if these shoots are left on the main stem, the plant will focus its energy on growing the shoots instead of producing a large yield of flowers and fruits.
Step three: Remove the small leaves growing from the same shoot.
When your plant has started to flower you will begin to notice small leaves growing from the same shoot of the flower just slightly higher up. These leaves need to be removed from your plant.
If they are not removed they will once again cause the plant to exert unnecessary energy and growing these leaves instead of producing the fruits and flowers.
Do not cut off the leaves that surround the actual fruit. These leaves provide the necessary sugar to the plant, so it’s best not to touch them.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.