The tomato is one of the crops that require certain maintenance tasks so that they can grow properly. Depending on the space we have for our crops, it may be good for us if they stop growing. In this case, we will see how to prune tomato plants so they don’t grow.
In this article we are going to tell you how to prune tomato plants so that they do not grow, what aspects to take into account and what advantages it has to do this.
Why should the tomato plant be pruned?
The purpose of pruning varies depending on the type of tomato we have. In some cases, such as cherry tomatoes, we are interested in having many small tomatoes.
However, other times we want the tomatoes to be bigger. To do this, we will make cuts in some specific areas to redirect the nutrients that the plant takes towards the tomatoes, which will be explained below.
Leaf pruning and branch pruning
The pruning or defoliation of leaves consists of removing the oldest or damaged leaves from the lower parts. Thanks to this practice, better ventilation, uniformity and coloration of the fruit is achieved. Pruning or cleaning branches is based on the removal of buds (often called suckers). The suckers appear in the axils of the stems, as shown in the image below.
In both cases, pruning should always be done at the right time. It is recommended to cut the buds when they measure about 5cm. If we let the shoot grow too long, we will increase the risk of diseases when we cut it back.
How to prune tomato plants so they don’t grow
Tomato plants can be pruned mechanically (with sterilized shears) or by hand. It is important not to prune when the plant is wet, since there is an increased risk of disease introduction. If we manage to do all these steps correctly, we will definitely add some good tomatoes to our salad.
The first step in pruning our tomato plants is to find out what variety we are growing. As you may know, there are many varieties of tomatoes that vary in size, color, and shape. However, we can divide them into two broad categories: definite and indeterminate tomatoes.
Determinate tomatoes tend to be the more compact, bushy type. They stop growing when they reach adulthood, that is, they have a growth limit. An important feature is that they deliver all the fruit at the same time (the entire harvest should be done in one to two weeks). These varieties are recommended when we have little space or we want to use our tomatoes for preserves. Generally, they do not need pruning. Indeterminate tomatoes can grow indefinitely, so they need to be controlled by removing suckers and cutting off the tops of the stems when they reach a considerable height. They need a stake for feeding and tomatoes are staggered throughout the season. If we want all-season tomatoes, they are highly recommended. Some of the most famous varieties are: muchamiel tomato, ox heart tomato, black cherry, etc.
Aspects to know how to prune tomato plants so that they do not grow
- Find and remove suckers: in those tomatoes of uncertain growth it is necessary to remove the shoots. Suckers are small buds that appear where the branches meet the stem. The reason for their removal is that, if allowed to grow, they rob the plant of energy, resulting in fewer fruits.
- Trim the branches of tomato plants to leave a single root: the objective is to always leave a branch or vertical growth guide from which secondary branches with leaves and flowers emerge. To do this, you have to select the best branch of the trunk and delete the rest. When this secondary branch (now the main trunk) has grown enough, we do the same thing again: we cut it off and let one of the stronger branches continue to grow.
- Remove the leaves under the first flowering branch: this practice will help our plants grow stronger and more resistant. Also, we don’t waste our plant nutrients on unnecessary branches.
- Remove yellow leaves from tomatoes: When you see yellow leaves on your tomato plants, especially the lower ones, you should pull them off so your plants don’t waste energy and protect themselves from disease.
- Cut the tops of the stems at the end of the season: it is necessary to cut the upper part of the stem of the plant to take advantage of the last shoots of the season. In this way we allow the nutrients to concentrate in the tomatoes.
When to prune tomato plants
It is necessary to distinguish between the different types of pruning that are applied to tomato plants in order to know when to do each one. So, to know when to prune tomatoes, keep in mind:
- Shoot pruning: in which the so-called suckers are removed from the tomatoes, is done once or twice a week during the warmer months. As soon as spring arrives, shapeless tomato plants start to develop a large number of these shoots, which we must remove before they grow too large.
- Defoliation or a maintenance defoliationremoving the leaves when they are withered or damaged.
- The breakout It should be done when we do not believe that the tomato plant has had time to fully develop new fruits. That’s about a month and a half before the worst temperatures in the warm months, or three months before the worst temperatures in the cold months.
In no case should pruning be done when the plant is damp or wet, as we can cause it to get sick.
Some tips for pruning
Finally, here are some tips on how to prune tomato plants so that they do not grow, whether they are cherry tomatoes or large tomatoes, whether they are in a pot, greenhouse or in the ground.
- Always display use sanitized tools when cutting any part of a tomato. Also, especially if you smoke, wash your hands with soap and water before hand weeding.
- When the first flowers appear, prune the branches below them. Wash unshaped tomatoes directly and wait for the leaves to turn yellow if they are shaped.
- Most cherry tomatoes are the stationary type and therefore do not require extensive pruning. In addition, in them quantity is more important than quality, so they can grow more.
- In greenhouse tomatoes, it is especially important to prune the lower shoots so that they do not shade the earth and aerate it more.
- Stems removed during weeding took root easily and new tomato plants grew in as little as 15 days.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about how to prune tomato plants so that they do not grow.