Pinching buds/flowers from tomatoes and peppers

East Pittsburgh, PA

First time raised bed gardner here. My start from seed seedlings did not do well after transplant so I bought some of the last pepper, zucchini and tomato plants I found at the local nursery. I just put them in the ground two weeks ago and they seem to be doing OK. I have read some info on growing and in that information I have read that you should pinch off the first buds/flowers to encourage plant growth before producing. The Early Girl tomatoes are about 18 inches tall and have the first flowers on them. Cubanelle peppers are about 30 inches high and have a lot of buds. Should I leave them or pinch them off? I haven't read about pinching off the zucchini buds/flowers, would this be beneficial to them as well, they are about 12 inches tall now. Included pics of toms and peppers. Thanks!

Thumbnail by jinxxycat1 Thumbnail by jinxxycat1
Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

i personally have no idea about the toms and peppers, but i have not bothered with removing the blooms from my summer squash and zucchini, and even then, they had a growth explosion, lol, and are just starting to produce their first fruits now. :)

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

I am sure you can get answers going both ways. It seems to me if you plant a very early variety of tomato you would want the thing to make as fast as it could. To me that means leaving the first blooms on, why plant an early variety and they delay the fruiting. So I guess it depends on if you want to grow big plants or big tomatoes or have early fruits.
As you will see there is no one right way, people garden for many different reasons and thus in many different ways. That would be the least of my worries, I would be more worried about future diseases and pests that will destroy all the early efforts if care is not taken to ward them off.

Austin, TX

I routinely pick off blooms on my indeterminate cherry tomatoes, when the plants are just a few feet high. If I do that, the plants will eventually reach six or seven feet high, and be covered with fruit. If they start to fruit when small, the plants just won't get that big. Now, here in central Texas, I put those in the ground in March, so I'm picking off blooms in April. The harvest season for those goes way, beyond that. I should have picked off blossoms on one of my Ichiban eggplants, which fruited when it was about a foot high. I got one nice eggplant off of it a month later, but the plant is now still a foot high. The next flower that fruits will be fruiting off of a plant that big. That was a mistake.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

jinx, pinching off the early flowers is normally done to encourage a bigger plant so it will support the fruit that follows. Once plants go into the reproductive stage, expecially tomatoes and peppers, other areas of growth will slow down (i.e., top growth and root growth). Your plants look like they would do just fine with pinching off the flowers and you should still get plenty of harvest by doing so. By the way, your pepper plants appear to be planted extremely close together, I'd recommend at least 2 ft apart so they have room to branch out and still allow proper air circulation between them.

As for squash, often times the first flowers to come on will be males and those will naturally fall off, no need to pinch those.

Wishing you a great garden this year.


East Pittsburgh, PA

Thank you all for your responses. They will help me be a better gardener, and my 3 year old son will get to eat something we grew! :).

New York, NY(Zone 7a)

I'm glad I saw this, natural inclination is to let the flowers fruit being excited that the little plants are fruiting and doing o.k. Absolutely you want all the fruit it can yield. I kinda knew of pinching off but was not thinking that way. So, I just "pinched" my small cherry tom (indeterminate sweet 100) and cubanelle pepper flowers.

-Will ichiban japanese eggplant benefit also from pinching? (I recall I only got about 3-4 last time)
-What about my 1st attempt at pole beans?

This message was edited Jun 29, 2013 9:58 AM

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

NY, Pa area is still getting tons of rain a days and cool. We EAT the male squash blossoms many of us, chuckle, great delicacy for hungry farmers. Sometimes the amount of fruits you get has to do with the proper fertilizer they get, eggplants starve for heat, sun and fertilizer (mine get tomato fertilizer since they are both of a family) I don't pinch pepper flowers unless they are irritating me by not setting fruits, then I pinch 1 of a set of 3, and kiss it to the rest of the plant. Same for tomatoes, half the blooms half the fruit to feed til they know what they are gonna do. ENJOY! It will be all right that short, Ping Tung Eggplant fruits get so long they always seem to drag the ground- pick while the eggplant is still shiny! not dull or it will be too old. I do remove bottom leaves on my tomatoes and eggplants, just me.

New York, NY(Zone 7a)

I'll start another thread with the questions of the eggplant and pole beans. I'ts off from the tom and pepper title etc.


This message was edited Jun 30, 2013 12:45 PM

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

My feeling is that 30" is plenty big enough to let the pepper set fruit. I'd also let the early girl set fruit. The plant will grow a lot before the tomatoes get big.

New York, NY(Zone 7a)

The cherry tom (sweet 100)and cubanelle pepper I did "pinch" were not even 12" tall and flowering too early. Even my basil is flowering very early (do a type of severe pinching, all flowers got to go on these) It's the cool temps I'd guess.

Palmdale, CA(Zone 8a)

Looking at this topic, I realized my mistakes. My California Wonder pepper began flowering when less than a foot tall. When it produced its first pepper, I cut off the other flowers, and did the same thing when my banana peppers produced a pepper. My watermelon vines are less than 2 feet long, and one has a fruit beginning to form on it! Should I cut it off so the vine can grow more?

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

No. you'll run out of growing season. Let it grow.

East Pittsburgh, PA

I pinched the peppers and the tomatoes and the tomatoes just flourished. The pepper plants, well, they seem to have been doomed from the start.

East Pittsburgh, PA


Thumbnail by jinxxycat1
Kensington, NY

Hey, Jinxycat, I am also growing a cubanelle under the same wierd weather Kitriana talked about back in June -well since then we have had three heat waves and it is blooming
I have always had trouble with peppers, year after year. Well, I am going to try some blossom pinching!

HeatherY, Brooklyn NY

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.