Tropical Style

Tips to Pruning a Tomato Plant

As a tomato plant grows, the sugar it creates prompts it to produce new branches, leaves, flowers and finally, fruit. You might believe that a bigger tomato plant is a better one, since it is going to supply you with additional fruit. Indeterminate tomato crops, however, might grow large enough to cover a 4-by-4-foot place if you don’t prune them. This plant makes it difficult to harvest fruit and also is a magnet for disease. Pruning your tomato crops regularly will keep them tidy, manageable and disease-free.

Identifying Suckers

When gardeners speak of pruning their tomato crops, they’re generally talking about suckers. Suckers are the stems that grow between a plant’s main stem and also a side stem. These stems jut out in a 45-degree angle and therefore are best removed when just beginning to grow. If permitted to grow, suckers finally develop into a new stem which can reach several feet in span. Suckers produce hardly any fruit, and what fruit they do make tends to be of low quality and they rob the plant of energy it needs to make big, healthy fruit.

Determinate or Indeterminate

Indeterminate and determinate plants grow very differently, so they’re also pruned differently. Determinate plants grow to a set size and produce a set amount of stems and fruit. They don’t usually require pruning and vigorous pruning will actually harm your harvest. If you must prune determinate tomato crops, just remove diseased leaves or even the ones that touch the ground. Indeterminate plants will keep on growing throughout the season until killed by frost or disease. They can produce an unlimited amount of tomatoes until then. They’ll also keep creating stems, though these stems typically only tighten the plant, therefore they have to be pruned.

Removing Suckers

It is best to remove suckers below a plant’s initial pair of fruit for a strong main stem, even though you can eliminate them anywhere you don’t want a negative stem to grow. When you see a young sucker, remove it using either easy pruning or Missouri pruning. For easy pruning, grasp the base of this sucker between your thumb and forefinger and wiggle it until it snaps off. Don’t use a knife to get this done, as it can cause the spread of disease. Missouri pruning is best for suckers which have grown more than a few inches long. To prune this manner, snap off the tip of this sucker, including the initial two or three leaves. This will not shock the plant as much as if you eliminated the whole sucker.

Other Pruning

If you notice diseased stems or leaves on your own plant, always remove them immediately to halt the disease from spreading. Remove cracked or dead plant material as you find it. Cut off leaves which are touching the soil to reduce the odds of pest or disease infestation. As the end of this growing season draws near, you will to execute a bit more pruning. Approximately four weeks prior to your first frost date, then begin removing any new flower clusters that seem to allow the plant to put its energy into ripening the fruit. Continue pruning suckers as normal during this time.

Other Factors

Never prune your tomato plants when it’s raining or they’re wet, as they’re more vulnerable to disease when wet. Avoid pruning in the middle of the day to lessen pressure to your plant; prune in the morning or early evening. Don’t prune too many leaves, especially in the event that you are living in a popular place; a few leaves are necessary to shade fruit and prevent sun scald. If you plant to support the plant using a trellis or cage, then install it until you begin pruning. Support methods vary in your own plant and the type of growth that you would like to achieve.

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