How to prune tomatoes

The tomato plant, or tomato plant, is one of the most popular crops among horticultural enthusiasts in virtually the entire world. This plant has its origin in South and Central America, but currently its fruit has made a place of great value in a good part of world gastronomy.

This plant requires some care that we must take care of if we want to learn well how to grow tomatoes and, thus, obtain good quality fruits. One of the most important in some types of tomato is pruning. If you want to know more about how to prune tomatoes and when to do it , keep reading this guide.

When to prune tomatoes

It is necessary to differentiate the different types of pruning that are applied to the tomato plant to know when to carry out each one. So, to know when tomatoes are pruned , pay attention:

  • Sprouting or pruning of sprouts , in which the so-called suckers are removed from the tomatoes, is carried out once or twice a week during the warm months. As soon as spring arrives, an indeterminate tomato plant will begin to produce a large quantity of these shoots, which we must remove before they grow too large.
  • Leaf removal or maintenance is done on a regular basis, removing the leaves as they wilt or damage.
  • The topping should be done when we believe that the tomato plant will not have time to fully develop new fruits. That is, about a month and a half before the worst temperatures arrive in the warm months, or three months in the cold ones.

In any case, no pruning should ever be done with the plant damp or wet, as we could cause it to become ill. Knowing all this, now let’s see how to prune tomato plants correctly .

How to Prune Tomatoes - When to Prune Tomatoes

Types of tomato plants

The first and most important thing to know before starting to prune our tomato plant is to identify what type of plant we have. Depending on this, it will require different care. There are two main types of tomatoes: determinate and indeterminate .

Indeterminate tomatoes

Indeterminate tomato plants grow without stopping, so pruning suckers is very necessary if we want to collect tasty and good quality fruits. These tomato plants also need staking and produce tomatoes in a fairly staggered manner throughout the entire season. Some indeterminate tomatoes are the beef heart, the black cherry or the muchohiel.

Determined tomato plants

Determined tomatoes, on the other hand, are more shrubby and compact. Once they reach maturity, they stop growing, and also produce all their fruits simultaneously, which requires a much faster harvest. These tomatoes are much less demanding on pruning, as they don’t produce as many suckers. Some particular tomatoes are marmande, cherry gold nugget, or roma.

How to prune tomato plants

¿ How you prune tomatoes at home or in the garden ? Whether the tomato plants you have are in your field or garden or if you have them in a pot at home, take note of these steps and guidelines for pruning tomato plants:


Indeterminate tomatoes need regular sprouting when the growing season arrives. If not, the plant produces suckers in a good part of the axils between the main stem and the secondary branches. If we allow these shoots to grow, they will develop to as large as the branches from which they were born and, in turn, will give rise to new suckers of the tomatoes. All this development process involves a huge energy expenditure for the plant, which does not allow it to allocate enough resources to the production of fruits, so it would end up producing small tomatoes and in few numbers.

Thus, the de-budding should be done once or twice a week, and we simply remove the suckers from the tomatoes by hand . If they have not developed too much, they will come out easily with a pressure of the finger and the nail, without causing great damage to the plant. If they have grown too long, use properly sterilized pruning shears .


As the tomato plant shows yellow or wilted leaves, we must remove them to promote aeration and the use of nutrients. However, it is better not to remove large amounts of leaves or branches at once so as not to weaken the plant excessively.

Usually you have to remove the oldest leaves and close to the ground, in addition to those that are on the fruit bouquets. The pruning of leaves in tomato plants must be done with sterilized scissors, although in some cases where they are very dry, they can be removed by hand.


When the plant does not have time to produce new generations of tomatoes, the apical shoot or upper part of the stem is pruned . In this way, the plant focuses its efforts on fattening the tomatoes it has available, instead of continuing to grow. It is done by leaving one or two branches above the highest flower cluster. In the following season, it must be repeated with the stem that has been formed as the main one in its vertical development.

Summary of the basic steps for pruning tomatoes :

  1. If you are using pruning shears, sterilize them first.
  2. Observe the plant from a distance to detect the parts that you are going to prune according to the type of pruning you are going to do. Thus, if you are going to do only a leaf removal, look at the withered or very old leaves, if you are going to de-sprout the plant, look for the suckers and the shoots that have to be pruned and if you see that it is not advisable for the plant to grow higher, observe well to the apical bud area.
  3. Proceed to remove with your hands or cut with the scissors the necessary parts to make a good pruning of the tomato plant.
  4. Take a good look at the entire plant, picking up some branches to make sure you have removed everything you need and you are done. Remember to clean the scissors well again.
How to Prune Tomatoes - How to Prune Tomatoes

Tips for pruning tomatoes

To finish, here are several tips on how to prune tomatoes , whether pruning cherry or large tomatoes or whether they are in a pot, in a greenhouse or in the ground.

  • Always use sterilized tools when pruning any part of the tomato. Also, and especially if you smoke, wash your hands with soap and water before doing manual de-budding.
  • When the first flowers appear, prune the branches below them. In indeterminate tomatoes, clean directly, while in determined ones you can wait for the leaves to turn yellow.
  • Most cherry tomatoes are of a certain type, so they do not need extensive pruning. In addition, they value quantity more than quality, which allows them to grow more.
  • In greenhouse tomatoes it is especially important to prune the low branches so that they do not shade the ground and allow a greater aeration of it.
  • The stems removed during de-budding tend to root very easily, allowing a new tomato plant to grow in just 15 days.

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