This procedure forces new growth to appear along the stem of the plant, creating dense, compact foliage.Tip Whether you should pinch back tomato plants depends on the cultivar, the growing conditions and your desired results.Pinching seedlings back when they are 4 to 6 inches tall to force new growth works for any tomato plant.Bury the tomato plant up to where the leaves were pinched off to create a thicker and stronger stem.These massive plants reach heights of 6 to 20 feet or more, depending on where you live and weather conditions.Take care to retain leafy structures, and remove just the suckers, advises the University of Utah Extension. .

Pruning tomato plants for best tomato production

Warm up your pinching fingers and your garden clippers … and find out how a little trim can mean bigger, tastier fruit.This 20-page guide is filled with tips you need to know to have a successful tomato crop, whether you’re a beginning or experienced gardener.During their first several weeks in the garden, before blossoms emerge, tomato plants put their energy into growing new leaves.Suckers that emerge in mid- to late season are nearly always weak, produce inferior fruit, and drain away energy from the main stem.Extra stems divert energy from the main plant’s fruit production.Extra stems divert energy from the main plant’s fruit production.When you prune suckers, more leaves are exposed to sunlight and can make energy for the plant.Plants direct energy to existing branches and blossoms, producing larger fruit.When you prune suckers, more leaves are exposed to sunlight and can make energy for the plant.Plants direct energy to existing branches and blossoms, producing larger fruit.If unsupported, un-pruned tomato plants spread into a horizontal position on the ground.Plants become more susceptible to diseases like leaf spot and tomato rot.When you prune suckers, leaves stay drier and diseases don’t spread as easily.To grow the strongest tomato plant possible, prune side stems below the first fruit cluster.Avoid pruning tomato determinate varieties or pinch back only suckers that appear below the first flower cluster, or you will reduce your yield.Pruning tomato suckers on indeterminates helps produce healthier, tastier, more abundant fruit.When a tomato plant is nicely pruned and staked well, its leaf tips are open to the sun and are able to conduct photosynthesis without excess stress.Because the plant doesn’t have to work extra hard to make sugar, energy produced by the leaves invested in developing strong, flavorful, healthy tomatoes.As an Amazon Associate and Rakuten Advertising affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. .

Do I need to pinch out my tomato plants?

With determinate tomato plants, you can pinch them back lightly to help maintain their shape, but once buds have formed you may be removing the buds and reducing your total number of tomatoes produced.It’s OK to pinch back indeterminate tomato plants as needed to shape them and keep them under control. .

When, Why & How To Prune Tomato Plants & Suckers

Left to grow as they please, tomato plants will morph into a tangled mess of stems, shoots, roots and leaves.It also robs the plant of the air, light and the nutrients needed for better bloom and tomato production.When plants become overgrown with too many stems, branches and foliage, those resources are wasted on maintaining all of that growth.Excess foliage is also an open invitation to pests and disease to wreak havoc on your tomato plant’s health and production levels.Although pruning branches and pinching both involve removing foliage from a plant, there is a distinct difference between the two tasks.They rarely ever produce blooms or fruit, but still require a portion of the plant’s resources to mature.Beyond pruning suckers from your plants, removing select branches and foliage will also pay big dividends.For this type of pruning, it’s all about clearing space to promote better air circulation, provide more light, and to keep pests and disease at bay.In addition, removing bottom branches makes it harder for crawling garden pests to have an easy ride up onto plants.Even better, it gives a gardener room to easily water, weed, and maintain their plants right at the root zone.For determinate varieties that tend to grow shorter and bushier, remove the first few branches at ground level.Keeping 6 to 8 inches of space clear at the ground level is a good rule of thumb.For indeterminate and larger tomatoes, take 8 to 12″ off at the bottom of each plant as they grow to their mature size.Also be sure to trim back and eliminate renegade branches that shoot off to the side or grow into the next row.These wild branches use up a lot of the plants energy, and are easily damaged and broken in storms. .

How to grow tomatoes / RHS Gardening

They are great for growing in a greenhouse, but will also do well in a sunny spot outdoors, either in the ground or in large pots against a south-facing wall.Bush (or determinate) tomatoes are shorter and wider, great for smaller gardens, pots and growing bags.Fruit colours range from traditional red to dark purple, pink, orange, yellow or green, and even striped.There are miniature round fruits, elongated plum varieties, smooth uniform salad tomatoes and huge, wrinkled, mis-shapen beefsteaks, all full of flavour and with their own individual characters.Fill small pots with multi-purpose compost and water well, then make a hole in the centre of each with a dibber or blunt stick.Lift each seedling individually, using the dibber to support its rootball and holding it by a leaf rather than the delicate stem, then lower it into the new hole. .

How to Pinch Out Tomatoes

Keep the compost moist over the coming days and before you know it a root network will be established, and you’ve got yourself another tomato plant. .

Should You Prune Out Tomato Suckers?

Pruning tomato suckers is often recommended because the resulting new stem is competing for nutrients with the original plant.Pruning also makes it easier to spot pests that are easily camouflaged in a thick canopy of leaves.Keep in mind, though, that if you remove all of the suckers, the plant will be more compact and yield fewer tomatoes throughout the season, but they'll typically be bigger fruits.These tomato plants are naturally more compact; they're genetically programmed to reach a certain height and stop growing.The earlier you prune the tomato suckers, the easier it is. Small leaves and two-to-four-inch stems can be snapped off with your bare hands.Stems thicker than a pencil should be cut out with sharp pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant.About 4 weeks prior to your area's expected first frost, remove the growing tip of each main stem.Called "topping," this pruning causes plants to stop flowering and directs all sugars into fruits to speed ripening. .

How to Prune Tomatoes

During this stage, tomato plants grow very rapidly, doubling their size every 12 to 15 days.If unsupported, the increasing weight of filling fruit and multiple side branches forces the plant to lie on the ground.Left to its own devices, a vigorous indeterminate tomato plant can easily cover a 4-foot by 4-foot area with as many as 10 stems, each 3 to 5 feet long.A properly pruned and supported single-stem tomato plant presents all of its leaves to the sun.Most of the sugar produced is directed to the developing fruit since the only competition is a single growing tip.If more stems are allowed to develop, some of the precious sugar production is diverted from fruit to multiple growing tips.(This is much less applicable to determinate plants, due to their shortened growing season and better-defined fruiting period.When a tomato plant lies on the ground, or when its growth is extremely dense, many of its leaves are forced into permanent shade, greatly reducing the amount of sugar they produce.A pruned and staked plant will produce larger fruit two to three weeks earlier than a prostrate one.The leaves of a pruned and supported plant dry off faster, so bacterial and fungal pathogens have less opportunity to spread.The bottom line: Upright plants have fewer problems with leaf spots and fruit rots because their leaves stay drier and free from pathogen-laden soil.As a tomato grows, side shoots, or suckers, form in the crotches, or axils, between the leaves and the main stem.When trained to one vine and left free-standing, tomato plants develop strong main stems.To encourage a strong stem, I trim all suckers and I don’t tie plants to their supports until the first flowers appear.If you do any pruning at all above the first flower cluster on determinate tomatoes, you’ll only be throwing away potential fruit.Determinate tomato plants have a predetermined number of stems, leaves, and flowers hardwired into their genetic structure.The disadvantage is that new suckers inevitably develop along the side stems, adding to your future pruning chores.The simplest is to pinch it off entirely; not surprisingly, this is called “simple pruning.” This should be done when the sucker is still small and succulent.Avoid cutting the sucker with a knife or scissors, because the resulting stump can become easily infected.When you’re dealing with large suckers, it’s better to pinch off just the tip than to cut off the whole thing close to the main stem.It helps to know that side stems started this late in the season will always be spindly and produce inferior fruit.The top foot of a tomato stem, or leader, is very succulent and easily snapped; it needs to be directed upwards, gently.I wrap a short piece of twine around the middle of the leader, cross it over on itself, and loosely tie it to the support.The resulting figure-eight tie reduces the chance the tender stem will rub against the support and get bruised.To keep the tie from slipping, I knot it underneath the point where the sling meets the stake.However, this final pruning can make all the difference between hard, green fruits, hurriedly picked before frost, which later rot in a paper bag, and ripe, home-grown tomatoes in your Thanksgiving salad.Which method of support you use and how far apart you set tomato plants depends on the number of stems you allow to grow.My ideal tomato cage is made from 5-foot-tall galvanized fencing with openings at least 4 inches square, so I can reach in and pick the fruit. .

Gardening expert explains how to 'pinch out' your plants and why it's

Jane was working alongside Mash Direct, which launched a campaign to get people across the country growing their own vegetables and herbs. .

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