Until very recently, I did not prune my tomato plants. I figured that the more leaf surface, the better. Up to a point, that is true. The problem is that if you have good fertile soil and plenty of water, the plant can quickly grow far to dense. Too many leaves and branches mean that:

  • Plant energy is going into producing more plant – not more fruit.
  • Fruit, unless it is growing on the outside edge of the plant, is difficult to see and to pick.
  • Poor air circulation means that disease and insect infestation can quickly get out of hand.
  • Leaves and branches tend to yellow and die for lack of sun. They then rot and become a magnet for insects and disease.
  • If you can’t see all of your plant, you can’t care for it.

The first type of pruning is sucker removal. We’ll look at the other type of pruning in a future post. Suckers are what grow out of the top of the joint between the main trunk of the plant and a branch. In the following two photos, I’ve indicated the suckers. These are pinched off or cut off as soon as the appear. They grow quickly, so check your plants regularly.

An added benefit to removing suckers is that they sprout roots very easily by just sticking them in the ground.

This is what happens when plants are not pruned. These are too dense for a healthy plant and a good yield.