Newly Registered
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Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2010 1:15 am
Location: river forest, il

over pruning tomato plants

I'm in need of advice about what to do when you over prune your tomatoes. :( I had very bushy plants that were huge (about 4 feet tall) with NO flowers or fruit. I started pruning but didn't understand the whole "sucker" concept. So I just wacked away and now all I have is single stem 4 foot plants with a few branches up high. What can I do to give me a chance for any kind of tomato harvest ?
amateur gardener

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2097
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:27 pm
Location: Mid Ohio

Just let them grow. It sounds like you had too much nitrogen if they were that big with no blossoms. Pruning won't change that problem, but the nitrogen level may be reduced in the soil. There is still plenty of time for your single vines to flower and fruit. Any flower up until the first week or two in August should have ripe fruit before frost in your area.

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Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:21 pm
Location: Surrey, UK

I've never pruned tomatoes. I've always had just jungly vines, but a friend said I'm supposed to get rid of almost all of the leaves. Surely the plant needs the leaves to catch sunlight? So there's got to be a trade-off point, and I surfed in here and found somebody talking about overpruning. Also about suckers -- er, what?

I should probably just get myself down to the library--or even just do a Google search--but is there any favorite book or favorite site people could recommend for a novice tomato-grower? (Novice in that I never get many tomatoes and when I do they're generally small, or something happens tot hem so that most of them never make it into the house. ANd those that make it into the kitchen have to be peeled because the skins are so thick they're disgusting.)

Full Member
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:00 am
Location: Putnam County, N.Y.

i say let them tomatoes grow wild! As long as ya got a good supporting system for all the branches its all good. Maybe cut off some of the low branches that are dangling close to the ground. Maybe late in the season it might not be a bad idea to cut back on a few non fruit baring branches and pinch those suckers out to focus growth into the tomatoes themselves before the frost hits.

Full Member
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:00 am
Location: Putnam County, N.Y.

oh yeah. Suckers are the new growths that form in the crotch of the main stem and foliage branches. Suckers will produce fruit branches if left to grow. If ya want to focus yer plants energy elsewhere then pinch em off.

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Full Member
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:12 am
Location: Upstate SC

just give it time, they will do OK.

I don't really bother pruning. I only do so to get rid of dead or dieing parts of the plant.
By cultivating the beautiful we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers, as by doing good we cultivate those that belong to humanity.
Robert A. Heinlein

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

I don't prune tomato plants. Never have, even the *one* terrific year I had in Berkeley where I was hard put to keep up with my caged, staked, *and* tied Romas, canning them in the kitchen. I haven't had success like that since. (Well, I haven't done but two or three years of gardening since, because of the car accident....)

Anyhow. I have six 5-gallon buckets happily growing those vining tomato plants right now. SunGolds, every one of them (according to DH), although I know very well that I brought home Stupice and Roma starts, too... :?:

Lately, because I've been at home around the clock with a little time off on weekends for good behavior (post-op dog whose recovery is very rocky), I've had wide-open access to those happy tomato plants and their suckers, vines, trusses, and cousins. :wink: There won't be many tomatoes for canning this year. Both Vergil (dog) and I really like SunGolds. I offered them to Vesta, so as not to play favorites, but she just turned up her nose at them. The cats just give me The Look. :lol:

I wouldn't dream of removing any part of these plants unless it became diseased or in some other way actively destructive to the rest of the plant.

Tomatoes evolved in MesoAmerica as vines sprawling along the ground. Gardeners and commercial growers have devised many means of forcing tomatoes to appear/behave as if they're upright-growing plants, but unless "pruning" other vining plants (e.g., zucchini, sweet potato, morning glory) becomes part of the normal gardening protocol, I'll feel like I'm doing right by my tomato plants, letting them grow almost as they will, but perhaps more vertically than they would choose.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

*Another* refill (the third, maybe?) of pain meds today, when only one was originally anticipated; three doses a day, when Vergil was "supposed" to have been tapered off. His pain levels don't appear related to the surgery, but I'll be ??? if I know what they are related to. Poor guy. We're still on the "When doggie sleeps, Mommy can sleep" schedule. *sigh*

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