I suspect this may be the most talked about, googled and youtubed piece of advice for gardeners growing tomatoes, but also the one which is surrounded by the most confusion. Pruning your tomatoes.
The thing is, it actually doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated, here is my simple guide to tomato plant pruning.
Pruning tomato suckers is more important with vine-type varieties (indeterminates), and not as important with bush-types (determinates). With determinate varieties, you need only prune suckers below the first set of flowers (which will become tomatoes), as suckers won’t negatively affect these plants in any way. This lets light and air around the stem and helps keep the plant healthy and stops the new sucker growth from nicking the nutrients that set of fruit needs.
So suckers, what on earth…. basically, they are just new stems. They grow in the axis between the main stem and the leaf.
If you leave them alone and let them grow, they’ll create whole new stems and will even flower and give you little tomatoes…. awwwww, however, they will steal nutrients away from the main tomato stem, weakening it, and depriving the other shoots of the nutrients they need to create tomatoes. Hence why you want to focus on that one big stem and not have lots of other stems stealing the goodies.
Tomato suckers are most annoyingly energetic in the height of the summer when the plant is producing lots of tomatoes, so be diligent and keep pruning.
But Eli…. you haven’t told us how to prune…
True, but not to worry, it’s very simple, just pinch them off with your thumb and finger nail. You want to pinch them off as close to the stem as possible. That’s it.
Oh if you somehow miss one and it grows bigger (which is totally going to happen), you can just snap it off by pushing it up and then down. It takes a bit of practice but they snap quite easily.
That’s it. Now go make your tomato plants lovely! 🙂