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So you bought a tomato and you want to be sure you are pruning it correctly, well we are happy to help you here!  

The first pruning you are going to give the plant is when you put it in its new home.  You will take the bottom two sets of leaves off and place it as deep into the ground as you can, ensuring at least 3 cm room from the ground to the next set of leaves.  There are a couple of reasons to do this.   Tomatoes will grow a healthy root system from the fine hairs you see on the plant and that will support a resilient plant all season.  The reason you keep space between the leaf and the ground is to increase airflow and reduce opportunity for disease.  I always remove leaf litter from my growing area and again, it is a simple way to reduce the opportunity for disease. 

There are two types of tomatoes and each will need a different pruning regime. Determine if yours is an indeterminate/vine type or a determinate/bush type.


Pruning a vining or indeterminate tomato is important as it improves airflow and reduces opportunity for disease to enter the plant and forces the plant to focus on fruit production.  It also reduces shading of fruit to support the ripening of said fruit.

One starts pruning once you see the first flowers opening.  We strive to prune weekly, just like we floss nightly and do the dishes every night.  Okay we aim for that, and it doesn’t always work.   The more you can be on top of it, the easier it is but I have had many a Sunday alone in the greenhouse pruning an unruly mess of hundreds of tomatoes…  so no matter what you have it can never be that bad.

And pruning can be emotionally hard for us as growers.  A farming friend once reminded me that Tomatoes like a good haircut.   The parts you are pruning are making it hard for the plant to do that job you are asking it to do.  So give it the conditions to thrive.  

What am I pruning?

Mainly the suckers. We also prune off the lower leaves (anything below the first fruit line can go once the plant has grown). At this time we are also staking and supporting the plant so that it makes future pruning easier.

What is a sucker?

A sucker is that small shoot that grows from the joint where the branch meets the stem.  If you leave it alone it will end up growing another branch  which creates that unruly, sprawling tomato that we have all had! I usually try to catch them early and can just snip them with my fingers but that really isn’t best practice as I have pulled the skin off parts of the plant before. Use small snips if possible

Prune your tomato plants in the morning after any moisture has dried off the foliage to prevent spreading plant diseases. Aim to prune when the suckers are between 1 and 4 inches long.  Remove leaf litter from the area



For determinate tomato plants, you can prune but only once, as they stop growing at a certain height. Remove lower leaves for airflow.  

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