Improved airflow and less disease
With fewer leaves, pruned plants are less dense, allowing more air to move through the plants. The leaves dry fast after a rain, so they are less susceptible to the diseases that need prolong moisture to develop — something that can be very helpful in wet climates. Plus, fewer leaves make it easier to spot worm pests that might differently be hidden by a compact canopy .
Pruning at the right time directs energy toward creating and ripening fruit rather of making more leaves. overall, you will probably have fewer yield on a snip plant, but it will be bigger. And, since pruned plants can be put a piece closer together in the ground because the growth is thus vertical, you ‘ll have board for extra plants to make up the difference in harvest numbers .
When a plant ‘s leaves and physiology have fewer yield to take care of, that fruit ripens fast. This can in truth help in short season climates, where getting a tomato harvest is often a race against fourth dimension, thanks to early fall frosts.
How to prune tomatoes (indeterminate varieties only!)
You ‘ll want to prune tomatoes throughout the season. hera ‘s what to do and when :
- Remove the lower leaves when planting thus you can bury plants profoundly into the dirty. If you ‘re planting a Bonnie plant, follow the directions on the negligee.
- Remove any flowers present at planting time (even if they were on there when you bought the plant), so energy goes into leafy growth instead of fruiting at this early stage
Try to remove suckers while they’re young and you can pinch them cleanly off. Photo by Julie Martens Forney.
Do you know what the different parts of a tomato plant are called?
- Remove flowers until plants are 12 to 18 inches tall, so plants can direct more energy to the roots.
- Remove all leafy suckers beneath the first fruit cluster so they won’t slow the development of the fruit. Suckers are the little shoots that form in the spot (called an axil) where the leaf stem attaches to the main growing stem. In northern regions, many gardeners go further, removing all suckers as they appear. In warmer zones, though, experts often recommend practicing what’s known as Missouri pruning, where you pinch off the leaflets on the end of each sucker, leaving only the two base leaflets in place. As these leaves enlarge, they help shade fruit and protect it from sunscald. Try to remove suckers when they’re small enough to pinch with your fingers, so you don’t leave a gaping wound on the stem. If you do have to cut them, use a sharp knife or pruner blade to make a clean cut as close to the main stem as possible without damaging stem tissue.
- As the growing season draws to a close, tomato plants are often still loaded with fruit. To speed ripening late in the season, remove the growing tip of each main stem about four weeks before the first expected fall frost. Called “topping,” this type of pruning causes the plant to stop flowering and setting new fruit, and instead directs all sugars to the remaining fruit. This way, the fruit will ripen faster, plus it becomes more likely that the green tomatoes you pick before frost will actually ripen when you bring them indoors. It may be hard to bring yourself to do this, but it will be worth it if you wish for ripe tomatoes! Of course, if you prefer your tomatoes to remain green for use in frying and jelly, you can certainly skip this step.
What if I already have big plants in the garden?
– Growing and pruning to a vertical impale may be not be an choice for this class, but both determinate and indeterminate varieties benefit from removing the lower leaves to keep soil-borne diseases from splashing up onto the leaf. ( You may already be seeing leaf spots and blotches on the lower leaves. ) Clip away any leaves that are touching the land and continue pruning up to a foot from the land. many tomato diseases, including septoria and early blight, can be salute in soils, particularly in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest. As plants get improbable, you can continue removing lower leaves up to 18 inches from the land, to help keep the disease from spreading. oeuvre when the leaves are dry to avoid spreading disease.
– For plants supported by cages, you can remove some leaves from the center of the plant to increase airflow, which can help prevent and/or dull disease outbreaks. research shows that leaves near a fruit cluster are the ones that send sugar to that fruit, indeed when thin, do not remove leaves immediately above and below the cluster. That manner, leaves above can help shade the maturation fruit, while leaves below can send sugars to it .
Next time you plant
Pruning works good on solid, vigorously growing plants. To give your tomato plants their best shoot at impressive growth, start with young tomato plants from Bonnie Plants® ( search for the logo ! ). then, be sure to plant them in well-draining, nutrient-rich territory and feed them regularly with fertilizer. Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose In-Ground Soil ( for garden beds ) and Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Container Mix ( for pots ) are both enriched with aged compost and will provide an excellent environment for roots. Pair one of those with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Plant Nutrition Granules, a continuous-release plant food that feeds the beneficial microbe in the land arsenic well as your plants. Check the label to find out how much and how often to fertilize. Thanks to Steve Bogash of Penn State Extension and Shawn Wright of University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service for their contributions to this article.Article and photos by Julie Martens Forney .
Plants are usually ready to prune once they reach 12 to 18 inches in height. Photo by Julie Martens Forney.
To do the Missouri pruning technique on suckers, pinch off the growing tip, leaving only the two lowest leaves.
About 30 days before the first fall frost is expected, remove growing tips on all steps to help speed the ripening of remaining fruit. Photo by Julie Martens Forney
To help improve airflow and cut down on the chance of disease, remove the leaves along the bottom 12 inches of the stems of indeterminate tomato plants.