How To Prune Tomato Plants – Everything You Need To Know

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How to Prune Tomato Plants


Have you ever had a year your tomatoes felt ENORMOUS like they took over your garden? Well, the thing is did you know you can prune tomato plants?

Yes. It is true and it is extremely easy. I will show you how to prune tomato plants easily and simply. This way you can very easily have less leaf coverage, better fruiting, and sweeter fruit as well. Let’s get started.

Why Should You Prune Tomato Plants?

Pruning tomato plants is a great way to help do the following:

  • Open up light to the fruit so they ripen properly
  • Allow for the energy to go towards the plant producing more and better fruit
  • Also protects them from disease over time especially things like blight and molds that happen from dirt splashing up to lower leaves that may be damaged from age.


How to Prune Tomato Plants

Here is what you need:

  • Pruning Sheers
  • Compost bin
  • Bands or string to tie up branches

How To Prune Tomato Plants & Pinch Tomato Suckers

How to Prune Tomato Plants

How To Prune Tomato Plants – Step By Step Guide:

Step 1. You want to identify the suckers on the plant. These are right at the base of new branches. These can be removed. You do not need to remove all of them, but remove a good amount to thin. This may need to be done a few times.

Step 2. I also trim the leaves at the bottom of the plant. Many of these never produce anything anyways so they just draw energy and open up the path for mildew and blight or other issues down the road that will damage the plant. Basically the bottom 6 inches of the plant can be left without leaves in the very least.

I use pruning shears to create a clean cut. The bottom leaves many times have damage and since many of the diseases that cause mold, mildew, and even how blight happens come from the soil you can deter it by keeping these bottom leaves from existing and getting exposed to soil from water splashing during watering. It isn’t fool proof but it does help and hinders significantly.

Step 3. You can also remove a few branches and leaves that are not producing as well. I kind of use my best judgement here for this. But you want to open the plant up enough so the fruit get plenty of light and they can ripen easily.

Step 4. I then tie up or stake any other branches at this point that need additional support either at this time or check back with them in a week or so.

The best thing is you cannot really mess it up and even if you cut something you thought you shouldn’t have the plant will be okay. Surprisingly the plants can survive well with very few leaves but they look pretty with them. But just don’t be too stressed about how much you remove.

How to Prune Tomato Plants

How To Prune Tomato Plants – Hints & Tricks

  • Use a sharp pair of pruners or heavy-duty garden scissors.  Do not use your grandfather’s rusty and dull old garden shears – they will crush the stem instead of cutting it. Your hand pruners  or garden shears should feel comfortable in your hand. They should not be too large and unwieldy, nor too small and difficult to grasp.
  • It’s best to prune tomatoes early in the morning when the plants will be less likely to pour out excess moisture.


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What sort of success have you had when you have pruned your tomato plants?! I would love to hear.

Don’t miss the IGTV where I describe how I prune tomato plants as well.

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Hello! I’m Megan Gilger,

A strong believer that nature and the seasons are our greatest teachers. We live on a hill in Leelanau County, Michigan just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. This land we are responsible for is where we are focused on building a life around the seasons and intention. We spend our days here building a regenerative model of living and focusing our garden on native plants and intensive polyculture planting styles. My focus is less on self-sufficiency and more on community-sufficiency through how we grow and connect through the seasons.
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