Should you pull dead leaves off tomato plants?

Pruning tomatoes is the most effective technique to keep them healthy and optimize output. In this post, I’ll tell you why you should trim tomatoes, which types need it, and when to do it. Next I’ll walk you through the process of pruning tomatoes step by step.

If your tomato plants grow enormously each summer but don’t yield much fruit, it’s time to get out the pruning scissors.

Developing the practice of cutting tomatoes on a regular basis will result in the largest and greatest yield.

The prospect of trimming plants frightens some individuals. But don’t worry, I’m going to make this super easy for you!

In this comprehensive lesson, I will go over everything you need to know about pruning tomatoes in great detail.

Do Tomato Plants Need To Be Pruned?

Pruning is not necessary to produce a robust crop of tasty tomatoes.

There’s no need to trim your plant if you’re content with how it looks and how many tomatoes it’s been producing.

But, if it has become overgrown and isn’t producing many tomatoes, it’s time to give it a thorough cut.

What Types Of Tomatoes Need Pruning?

Before we jump into the details of trimming tomatoes, it’s important to understand that there are two types to consider: determinate and indeterminate. Here’s how to tell the difference.

The reason it’s important to know the difference between them is because they don’t require the same amount of pruning. Pruning determinate tomatoes is a breeze…

  • How to prune determinate tomatoes – Just remove suckers from the bottom of the plant, up to the first flower cluster. Do not prune the top branches, or it could negatively impact fruit production.

It doesn’t get much easier than that! Pruning indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, is a little more difficult. So that’s what the remainder of this article is about.

Why Should Tomato Plants Be Pruned?

Regularly pruning tomatoes is very beneficial to the plant, and can result in even more fruit. Here are a few reasons why it’s critical to trim tomatoes on a regular basis…

Higher Yields

Tomatoes will use a lot of energy developing leaves and suckers if you don’t trim them.

This may reduce fruit output, resulting in less tomatoes at harvest time.

Disease Prevention

Tomato thinning promotes ventilation and aids with fungal prevention.

Pruning properly will also aid in the prevention of blight and other soil-borne diseases.

Nice Looking Plants

Unpruned tomatoes may become overgrown and weedy, creating an unsightly mess in your garden.

Moreover, when they exceed their support, they might become too heavy and flop to the ground.

More Ripe Tomatoes

Pruning at the right time causes the fruits to mature quicker, increasing your harvests.

It also means you won’t have a glut of green tomatoes that won’t turn red before frost.

What Are Tomato Suckers?

Suckers are the additional growth that arises between the stem and a branch junction on tomatoes.

Suckers, if allowed to grow, will develop into another branch capable of producing blossoms and even tomatoes.

They must be removed since they compete for the plant’s energy supply.

This additional development might result in smaller fruits and a reduced total tomato output.

After the suckers are removed, your plant can use more energy to growing tomatoes rather than squandering it on weak sucker development.

Suckers may also cause the plant to seem overgrown and to become quite heavy. So pinching them out on a regular basis allows you to control their size and shape.

When To Prune Tomatoes

It’s preferable to begin trimming tomatoes while they’re young, as soon as the blossoms appear.

Then, during the summer, keep up with it on a regular basis. This will allow them to produce as many tomatoes as possible.

You should be more assertive in the late summer. At this point, you can top the plants, and pinch out any new flowers.

This will help the fruits mature considerably quicker, ensuring that you don’t end up with a crop of green tomatoes when frost arrives.

Using your fingertips, just pinch off little suckers from tomatoes. If you don’t like the smell on your hands, then use a pair of micro-tip pruners.

It’s best to cut off larger suckers, stems, and leaves using pruning shears to avoid damaging the main stem. Precision pruners are my preferred tool for the work.

Whatever cutting tool you decide to use, always be sure to clean and sharpen them before pruning tomatoes. This will aid in the prevention of any damage or sickness complications.

How To Prune Tomato Plants

You don’t have to worry about overpruning tomatoes since they can withstand a hefty cut.

Yet, knowing how to prune tomatoes is critical to ensuring that you are doing what is best for their health and optimum fruit output.

Here are the steps for trimming tomatoes…

Step 1: Trim out the dead leaves – Pick up any dead or yellowing leaves you see. This is an easy first step, and will help to clear the clutter so you can focus on pruning the rest.

Step 2: Remove the bottom leaves – Remove all of the leaves and lower branches that are in contact with the ground. This will help to prevent infection from soil-borne diseases, like blight.

Step 3: Pinch out the suckers – You don’t have to get rid of every single sucker. That can become very tedious, especially if you haven’t done it before.

I generally start with the bigger suckers at the bottom and then pinch out some of the smaller ones on top if I have time.

Step 4: Prune back extra leaves – This last step is optional, however it is recommended for overgrown tomato plants.

Prune or clip back some of the biggest leaves to thin it down even more, manage size, and accelerate fruit development.

Nevertheless, don’t remove too many leaves; plants need their leaves to develop.

Removing leaves from tomato plants Removing leaves from tomato plants

Related Questions

In this part, I’ll address some of the most often asked issues concerning tomato trimming. If you can’t find yours here, then ask it in the comments below.

How much should I prune my tomato plants?

If you’re not sure how much to trim tomatoes, start by eliminating all suckers, then take a step back.

If it still seems overgrown, trim away a couple of the leaves to limit the growth and thin it down further. But be sure to keep most of the leaves on the plant.

How do I make my tomato plants bushy?

Trim or pinch the young tips from the main branches on a regular basis to keep your tomato plants bushy.

When should you top your tomato plants?

You may top your tomatoes in late summer to allow the current fruits to ripen. I start doing this anywhere from 4-6 weeks before our average first frost date.

Should I cut dead leaves off my tomato plant?

Yes. It’s good practice to cut dead leaves off your tomato plant regularly to keep it healthy, and prevent the spread of disease.

When should I thin my tomato plants?

You should thin your tomato plants as often as needed throughout the summer in order to control their size. Large plants should be checked monthly, and smaller ones every few weeks.

Should I pinch off tomato flowers?

Tomato blooms should be pruned in late summer (4-6 weeks before frost), since any fresh fruits won’t have enough time to grow anyhow.

Although tomato pruning is not essential, it is the best method to get the most out of your plants. Trimming tomatoes on a regular basis becomes second nature once you get into the practice. And you’ll be able to produce the most tomatoes in the neighborhood!

Which leaves to remove on tomato plants?

Remove any leaves lower down the plant that is touching or almost touching the ground for both cordon and bush kinds.

When should I remove leaves from tomato plants?

When lower leaves start getting yellow it is a sign that they are shutting down and they should be removed before they become a sugar drain on the rest of the plant. They are photosynthesizing and creating sugars for fruit production as long as they remain green.

Why are the bottom leaves on my tomato plants turning brown dying?

Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot
Perhaps the most common disease symptom homeowners mention is “My tomato plants are turning brown, starting with the bottom leaves and working toward the top of the plant.” This description suits two illnesses’ symptoms: early blight and Septoria leaf spot.

How many leaves do you need to take off a tomato plant?

It is sufficient to leave 6 to 7 mature leaves per plant. The amount of leaves that may be taken from a plant varies depending on the type. Roma cherry tomato types, for example, have a highly open leaf structure with little leaves, requiring little to no leaf removal.

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