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How to Trim Tomato Plants

How to Trim Tomato Plants

Early in the season, when you start your seedlings or purchase them from your favorite gardening shop, they seem so small. The thought of having to trim your tomato plants is far from your mind. It’s actually a necessary action to take to get your tomato plants growing like gangbusters and provide an excellent yield of tomatoes. Learn how to trim tomato plants to get the most out of your plants for the upcoming harvest.

Why Trim?

There are plenty of reasons for trimming tomato plants. One is that you’re helping to remove dead and browning leaves. Taking these leaves off of the plant will help the plant focus its energy on growing bigger and producing more tomatoes. Plus, you’ll be removing any damage caused by pests or disease to help give the plant a better shot at kicking a disease.

Another reason for trimming your plants is that you’re improving air circulation and flow around the plant. Removing unnecessary suckers means that there is more space between the leaves for air to get around. It also means that after it rains or you water your garden, the leaves will dry quicker. This also helps to prevent plant disease and keeps your tomato plants healthy. Plus, this will help sunlight get to more of the leaves for photosynthesis.

Finally, towards the end of your growing season, it can be a good idea to prune the new clusters of flowers off the plant. This may sound like a bad idea since you’re removing flowers that would be becoming tomatoes to add to your harvest. In reality, this helps the other growing tomatoes that are still rather small at this time. Cutting those buds will focus the energy of the plant into growing the already existing tomatoes larger before the end of the season put a stop to plants growing.

Tomato Plant Anatomy

Understanding tomato plant anatomy can be helpful when it comes to pruning your tomato plants down to size. At the bottom of the stem in the soil are the roots, with the rest of the plant growing up towards the sky and light. On the stem are little bumps called nodes, where the leaves grow out of the stem. A leaf will often have several leaflets on them.

There will also be flower clusters growing from the plant, which will form into the tomatoes. A final plant part that is very relevant to the discussion on trimming tomato plants is suckers. A sucker is a shoot that will grow out of a joint between the leaf and the stem. If left alone, this will become a new branch on the plant.

Knowing Your Tomato Varieties: To Trim or Not To Trim

There are a vast number of tomato varieties available for purchase that can be grown in your home garden. You’ve probably heard the terms heirloom, hybrid, and more when determining which varieties you want in your garden. When it comes to trimming tomato plants, it’s important to remember these three terms: determinate, indeterminate, and dwarf.


Learning how to trim tomato plants is a necessary skill for any gardener to have in their arsenal. The benefits you can garner from a proper tomato trimming can help you to have tomatoes all summer long, produced by healthy and happy tomato plants. Be sure to check whether or not the varieties that you’ve purchased or grown are determinate, indeterminate, or dwarf before trimming. As a reminder, only indeterminate tomato plants need regular pruning.