How to Prune Tomatoes?

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

I have some Ace 55, Beefmaster, and cherry tomatoes(that's all the info on what kind of cherry tomatoes they are). I read a book that says, "cut all non-flowering stems that grow between the main stem and the leaf crotches". As easy as it sounds, I'm not really sure what they mean. Isn't any stem off the main stem creating a "leaf crotch"? And, how am I supposed to know if its going to be a non-flowering stem? Sure, it may not have a flower now, but it could.....I think.....according to the book you prune once a week starting a week after you plant the, they're starting out small, how am I supposed to know what's non-flowering and what's not? lol....someday I'll figure this all out...any explanations would be helpful...thanks!


Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Kristie. To prune or not to prune is an ongoing debate among tomato growers. I am a non-pruner myself. Pruners usually prune back to a single stem and stake that stem. or to two stems. Nonpruners will use cages or the sprawl method. All the side branches will flower at some time. Pruning works best on the tall indeterminate plants.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

I just prune if a branch gets in my way or grows in an unhandy direction. I do take off all branches up to about 18" on the taller varieties. Keeps the foliage off the ground and away from soil borne diseases.

Folks say that you'll get bigger tomatoes by pruning...well, they won't be that much bigger, and you'll be taking off potential fruiting branches...thus fewer tomatoes.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I have used both these methods, ie nipped out the tiny side shoots between the stems/leaves, supposed to help get the friut to set and I have stopped the leader by cutting it off after 5 sets of flowers have come, got great results and loads of fruit, then in my absence, no one bothered to do this for me the following year, and there was no difference in the amount of fruit, the taste or the size. all I would say is that here in the UK, most gardeners have to grow their tomatoes cucumbers etc in the greenhouse because of the shorter growing season, so to cut down on space, I prefere to take off the side shoots, IF, I remember while in the greenhouse,BUT, if they get too big, then I leave them on, my fruits rippen quicker if I take the shoots off as they get more light/heat, so as stated before I joined in, it is a matter of preference rather than a must do, if the plants get too bushy, I just start to remove a few leaves, that seems to work for me, thought I would let you guy's know.
Good luck and happy gardening to you all. WeeNel.

Banks, AL(Zone 8a)

Hi there. I grow tomatoes. I have mine in buckets this year since I am unable to do much gardening anymore. I do take some of the shoots off as they grow but usually I do not . I like to see them grow and I just keep them watered and fed. I have several different kinds and my bush early girl has the most tomatoes on it. Take

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Here in the south, we need as much foliage as possible to keep tomatoes from sunscald.

Champaign is about 5 1/2 hours due north of me on the interstate....considerably further north...but tomatoes will still sunscald. Just make sure that you leave enough foliage on to cover your fruits some. You'll get patches of a semi-transparent type...sort of yellowish. Your tomatoes are cooking from the inside out.

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

Thanks guys for all the help! I'll probably only do some pruning if they get too big...I've never pruned before and did fine. This year though, I've tried the raised bed method and have planted the tomatoes a little closer together: 15 inches. So, I thought I should prune because of room. Thanks guys!


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