How To Prune Tomatoes

How To Prune Tomatoes

When growing tomatoes, you want to get the maximum yield of crops, with the best flavour you can. Pruning your plants to remove unwanted shoots and leaves is an essential part of this. Tom Cole shows us how.

Step 1: When to de-shoot

The aim when growing a tomato plant is to have a single stem. Wait until four or five fruit bearing trusses have grown from the stem, then pinch out any additional side shoots, leaving the plant's top shoot, known as the terminal shoot.

Step 2: Pinching out

Grab a growing tip by the base between the thumb and forefinger, and bend it back and forth until it snaps cleanly. This should ideally be done when the shoot is young and supple. This should ensure that the majority of the nutrients are sent to the fruits, instead of being wasted on the unwanted growing tips. Avoid cutting with a blade as the wound can become easily infected, although this may be easier on older, tougher shoots.

Step 3: Removing leaves

As the plant begins to mature, the lower leaves will naturally begin to yellow and wilt. This is perfectly normal, so pull these from the plant when they appear. It will keep the plant fresh, looking good, and help ward of disease.

Step 4: Topping

To get the best out of the last growth of the season, it is necessary to "top" the plant. About a month before the first expected frost, or when the plant hits the roof of your greenhouse, remove the plants terminal shoot. At this point in the season, the tomatoes currently growing will have a limited time to reach maturity, so all nutrients must be directed straight to the fruit.