QUESTION: Should I cut dead leaves off my tomato plant? I’m unsure if they’re hurting the plant or keeping it from making more tomatoes.
ANSWER: Whether it’s worthwhile to trim dead leaves off your tomato really depends on what sort of tomato you’re growing: determinate or indeterminate, also referred to as bush or vine tomatoes.
Determinate (or bush) tomato varieties will bloom out once and set fruit counting on what percentage flowers appear, so there’s, in essence, a group number of tomatoes determinate plants will produce that can’t be changed by pruning, for the foremost part. With determinate varieties, you’ll wish to prune dead or yellowing foliage below the primary set of flowers on the plant.
You can also remove this first level of “suckers,” which grow from the bend where a branch meets the most stem, as long as they’re below the primary flower clusters. it’s recommended to prune indeterminate tomato varieties more heavily, however, as these plants can set fruit quite once during the season, and pruning dead leaves or unproductive foliage away can help encourage indeterminate plants to specialize in the event of fruit instead.
If you’re growing an indeterminate (vine) sort of tomato, begin pruning when the foliage underneath the primary set of flowers on the plant begins to show yellow. This usually happens when plants are 12 to 18 inches tall. additionally, to dead or yellowing leaves, remove the “suckers” that grow from the crook where a branch meets the most stem of the plant as long as they grow below the primary inflorescence.
Later within the season, you’ll prefer to remove suckers growing above also, but take care to not remove leaves that shade fruits or suckers that have grown especially large, as they will leave damaging wounds. With indeterminate plants, some gardeners recommend also pruning to go away only four or five fruit-bearing branches in order that the fruit your plants grow is as large and healthy as possible.