How to prune your tomato plants

There is really no right or wrong in pruning. If your plant is growing out of control, it’s ok to cut it back. Don’t prune so much as to put your plant in distress or make it think it is dying.

Determinate tomato plants grow like a bush. Prune off leaves that come into contact with the soil to help prevent diseases and pests in the soil from getting on your plants. And pruning lower leaves also improves air circulation around the base area. Otherwise not much pruning on determinate type tomato plants is needed. Generally, determinate tomato plants grow like a bush to a given size, produce all their tomatoes and then die.   

Indeterminate plants grow tall with long vines. Also prune off lower leaves coming in contact with the soil. Vines and suckers are the same thing. Every vine, every sucker you prune would have potentially produced tomatoes. If you would like or need to prune these vines or suckers, it’s ok. Once the plant is too tall—reached the top of the cage—prune off some of these vines at the top or gently let them grow back down to the ground. If you excessively top off vines all at once, your tomato plant may think it’s dying and send the message to ripen all the green tomatoes ASAP. 

Caution: pruning vines/suckers that are helping shade mature tomatoes may result in sunscald because fruit will be more exposed to the sun. It’s like too much blistering hot direct sunshine on your fruit … tomatoes do not need direct sunlight on them to ripen.   

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Prune off a sucker: Each time a leaf grows usually a new vine/sucker grows. Thin these out.

You are welcome to share this information with others—clubs—perhaps share this with your general membership to include those that could not attend the lecture, family, friends, etc. 


Dave Freed  “The Tomato Guy”