Prune Tomato Plants: How to Prune Tomato Plants for Maximum Yield & When

Like any plant, we must know the corresponding steps for its care, and what to do and what not to do, to give the proper treatment to our tomato plant, but first we must detail the objectives of regular pruning. Among the main objectives of pruning the tomato plant is to allow the proper growth of the fruits, preventing the plant from using resources (water, sun, and nutrient fertilizer) to grow only in its main stem. In this article, we show you How to Prune Tomato Plants for Maximum Yield and When it is more convenient to prune tomato plants.

Once we have our tomato plants in the ground and they start to grow it is important to do good pruning to have larger and better-developed fruits, avoiding loss of energy in creating new shoots and leaves. Learn all about How to Prune Tomato Plants in this article.

how to prune tomato plants for Maximum Yield and when pruning tomato plants

How to Prune Tomato Plants for Maximum Yield – Step-by-Step

It is easy to prune tomatoes following these instructions.

1- First we have to decide if we want 1, 2, or 3 branches on each plant. This will depend on whether we want them to occupy a circular space each one or if we want them to be in a line or furrow with the rest of the plants, or furrows wide enough to allow the plants to grow without getting in each other’s way. The same would apply to pots according to the space we have on our balcony or terrace.

2- Once we have decided the number of branches, we will eliminate all the offshoots that appear in the axils of the leaves, between the insertion of the leaf and the stem. We will do this periodically and thus we will have stronger and more aerated plants.

3- Depending on the quality of the soil of our orchard and its preparation, pruning will be done by cutting the branch when it has two or three flowering buds. Every 15 days you can check and give the cuts, always with the plant dry to avoid fungus problems.

4- If we do not want the tomato plants to exceed a certain height because we don’t want to stake them or because they shade other plants, we will cut them at the predetermined height every 2 weeks and always when the plant reaches that size.

5- There are cases and areas where plants are kept producing for a long time and can be trained and trellised by having the new tomatoes further and further away from the base of the plant until the end of the cycle. This is another way to take advantage of little soil space and have more production.

tomatoes plant pruning

How To Prune Tomato Plants for Maximum Yield and When It Is More Convenient To Prune Tomato Plants

Let’s review How to Prune Tomato Plants and when it is more convenient to prune tomato plants. In the following paragraphs, you will find a detailed step-by-step on how to prune tomato plants during the different stages. Also, we discuss why to prune tomato plants for Maximum Yield and their benefits.

It should be noted that this plant has a main stem, from which the secondary stems are detached, and it is in the middle of these that the fruits or tomatoes are born. By pruning several of these secondary stems, the plant will focus its resources on these fruits.

Another objective of pruning tomato plants is to avoid that our plant, having so many stems, begins to fall, or wither without bearing fruit, for which we must be in constant observation and care.

The vine is a climbing plant, with twisted trunks and thick bark, which if left to grow freely can reach up to 30 meters. If it is carefully tended and given the right treatment, in a short time it will offer its fruit: juicy and sweet fresh grapes.

The vine grows mainly in Mediterranean climates, withstands the summer heat well, and can survive drought. In addition, it grows quickly.

The tomato is the name given to the tomato plant, an herbaceous plant of the Solanum genus of the Solanaceae family, native to South America and responsible for being part of many sauces, stews, and other preparations in the kitchen.

The tomato plant or tomato plant is a plant with a straight stem and cylindrical shape that in turn has hairs throughout its structure and that, as the tomatoes grow, allows its stem to bend little by little, forming a curvature.

Like any plant, tomato plants need the necessary care so that their fruits can be enjoyed by the farmer and consumers, being the pruning of this plant is one of the most important processes that we will detail below for its learning and application.

When Should I Prune Tomato Plants?

According to expert growers, there is no specific time to perform this practice, simply with observation, notice if the branches of our tomato plant or main stem are not very dense, and reduce unnecessary secondary stems.

However, it is advisable that pruning is not done after rainy or irrigation times, since it is a plant sensitive to moisture, so pruning can cause the appearance of fungus on the plant.

Nor is it advisable to prune in the winter season, since the plant is at rest for this season, and can cause it to slow down or stop its natural growth when it leaves this time.

How To Prune Tomato Plants

How to Prune Tomato Plants for Maximum Yield? To prune tomato plants, we simply need pruning shears, previously disinfected with alcohol, and gloves. There are different types of pruning depending on what we want to achieve, let’s see them.

When starting to Prune Tomato Plants the observation is paramount detailing the main stem, starting from the growth of the plant, cutting the small shoots that are coming out successively. The best thing to do is to remove them when they come out, to avoid damaging the structure.

Another way of pruning is to remove the leaves and shoots in an ascending way, that is to say from the bottom upwards, in this way the fruits will be visible and will have better color, making it easier for the plant to receive more sunlight.

How To Prune Tomato Plants: Cleaning Pruning

The purpose of cleaning pruning is to leave space for new healthy branches and to eliminate undesirable elements from the plant. This pruning is done together with the other maintenance tasks throughout the year.

Why Prune Tomato Plants?

The purpose of pruning is different depending on the species of tomato we have. On some occasions, such as cherry tomatoes, we are interested in having many small tomatoes.

However, other times we want to have larger tomatoes. To do this, we will cut in some specific areas, which will be explained below, to redirect the nutrients assimilated by the plant to the tomatoes.

how to fertilize tomatoes big tomatoes

How To Prune Tomato Plants: Leaf Pruning and Shoot Pruning

Let’s see the leaf and shoot pruning and why prune tomato plants. Leaf pruning consists of removing the oldest or damaged leaves from the lower part of the plant.  This practice will provide greater ventilation, uniformity, and coloration of the fruit. These are one of the advantages and explains Why Prune Tomato Plants for Maximum Yield

Shoot pruning is based on removing the shoots (usually called offshoots). Offshoots appear in the axillary part of the stem.

In both cases, pruning should be done at the right time and frequency. It is recommended to cut the shoot when it is about 1.5” (5 cm) long. If the sprout is allowed to grow too much, the risk of disease will increase when it is cut.

Sometimes we can take advantage of the offshoots that we have cut to obtain a new tomato plant. We simply have to plant the offshoot, and you will see how in a few days it takes root.

With good care, in two to three years a large vine can be formed that not only provides shade in summer but also allows you to enjoy its delicious fruits.

The vine is the name given to the vine plant that is allowed to grow on vertical support. According to the taste and needs of the grower, it can be simply supported on a wall. Or it can be entangled in a framework that could have the dual purpose of providing shade to some area of the garden.

One of the most important cares to obtain a healthy and productive vine is to prune its leaves and fruits properly. Pruning should be done following certain guidelines and at certain times of the year, carefully but without fear: practice makes perfect.

The truth is that pruning in general in gardening is used to manipulate nature to the taste of the farmer, giving the necessary shape for its purpose or artistic reasons. In the case of the vine, pruning is done for practical purposes: proper pruning makes it possible for the vine to give better, bigger, and juicier fruit.

Types of Tomato Plants

The first and most important thing to know before we start pruning our tomato plant is to identify what type of plant we have. Depending on this, it will require different care. There are two main types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate.

Learn more about How to Grow Tomato Cherry.

Learn more about How to Grow Tomato.

Indeterminate Tomato Plant

Indeterminate tomato plants grow non-stop, so the pruning of offshoots is very necessary if we want to harvest tasty and good-quality fruit. These tomato plants also need staking and produce tomatoes in a fairly staggered manner throughout the season. Some indeterminate tomatoes are Beef heart, black cherry, or Muchamiel.

Determinate Tomato Plant

Determinate tomatoes, on the other hand, are more bushy and compact. Once they reach maturity, they stop growing and produce all their fruits simultaneously, which requires a much faster harvest. These tomatoes are much less demanding with pruning, as they do not produce as many offshoots. Some specific tomatoes are Marmande, cherry gold nugget, or Roma.

tomato pruning

How to Plant Tomatoes

We can plant tomatoes in two ways: through seeds from other tomatoes or through small plants that we can get for transplanting. See How to Plant Tomato from Seeds in this article

The seeds can be obtained simply from any tomato that we have bought, or even from the ones that come out of our plants, to renew the harvests. If we choose to take the seeds from tomatoes, we will have to do it from the best ones we find, as it will increase the chances of obtaining a better fruit.

To know when it is time to extract the seeds from the tomato, we will have to wait until it is soft enough (it sinks with just a light squeeze).

We will never use hybrid tomato seeds, as we will not obtain good fruit. The seed should belong to a tomato as naturally as possible if we want to get good results.

How to Plant Tomatoes and Their Varieties

There is a great variety of tomatoes that we can plant, and their choice will depend both on the fruit we want to obtain and the area in which we are going to grow them (climate, humidity, etc.). For this reason, we will get information in our greenhouse about the most recommended type of tomato.

Another aspect that differentiates the varieties is the type of plant since some produce fruit in a short period, and others need a longer period to be used.

If we choose small tomato plants for transplanting, the stems should be as straight as possible. On the other hand, they should have some leaves, but never flowers. Before buying it, we will observe that it does not have insects or infections that affect the plant before developing.

Why Prune Tomato Plants?

The purpose of pruning tomatoes is to get more robust plants, which are capable of producing a large amount of fruit. If they were left to grow on their own, a lot of energy would be spent on the development of those offshoots, and not on the production of tomatoes, which is what we are more interested in.

What You Need

Pruning shears. These are those that have a cutting blade and a blunt blade and are hooked in shape. Good and useful pruning shears will be those that have an even cut, are firm enough to withstand the hard workload without disassembling, have a solid grip, and preferably have a spring mechanism that facilitates the task with less effort.

Can Offshoots Root?

Yes, if you would like to have new tomato plants, just impregnate the base of the offshoots once cut with a homemade rooting agent and plant them in a pot or another part of the garden.

However, it is important: they will only be viable if they are at least 10 centimeters long; otherwise, they will not be of any use to you.

Initially, you should identify the two basic types of pruning that are performed on the vine:

When the vine is young, newly planted and within the first 4 years, it requires the so-called formation pruning. The purpose of this pruning is to give the vine the shape and type of growth that is required: either as a bush, climbing a wall, entangling it in support, etc.

Once the vine has the required shape, the pruning is called fruiting pruning. The purpose of this pruning is to maintain the shape of the plant, improve its yield, make it more resistant to pests and enhance the quality of the fruit it produces.

Performing vine pruning necessarily involves making cuts to the plant, which leave an open wound on the plant and can attract diseases to the vine.

To avoid this, it is important to always cut in the middle of the nodes, avoid making very wide cuts and use sharp scissors. If possible, disinfect with alcohol before starting pruning or after cutting branches or sections with the suspected disease to avoid infections by the scissors.

To guarantee the health of the vine, it should be considered to have a good treatment to avoid pests and fungi that may affect production, as well as a mechanism to scare away gluttonous birds that may try to eat the fruits.

The vine is a strong and noble plant that can be grown in any garden serving as food, shade, ornament, and even as a division of areas.

However, it should be remembered that it requires a good amount of hummus for its strengthening, organic fertilizer in the winter season, and do not forget abundant watering.

Recommended articles for you:

How to Plant Tomato Seeds – Step by Step

Yellow Leaves on Tomato Plants: Causes & Treatments

Leaves Curl Up on Tomato Plant – 5 Reasons

How To Fertilize Tomatoes – Big Tomatoes

when to grow tomato plant
About Henry Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Julia, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website.