How to Prune a Tomato Plant


Tomato plants are an ideal addition to any fruit or vegetable garden, as a couple of them can provide a generous harvest that can be eaten fresh, canned or frozen for future use. Pruning tomato plants is an important step in their care, in order for them to stay healthy and keep their size under control. It also encourages new tomato growth for the future.

Step 1

Sanitize your pruning scissors or shears thoroughly before using them on the tomato plants. Using dirty equipment could lead to spreading disease to your plants, thus killing them. Dip an old rag in rubbing alcohol, then rub it all over the blades of the scissors.

Step 2

Find any dead or broken tomato branches first, cutting them back to the place where they connect to the main stem.

Step 3

Make sure to pinch off the tips of the branches during the growing season, in order to promote fruit and bushy growth. Always trim off only the last set of two leaves.

Step 4

Prune back any branches that you have noticed are not flowering or that didn't produce fruit that season or the one before. Thin out overly crowded areas of branches by pruning back every third branch in the area. Keep in mind that you don't want any of the tomato branches to be trailing or falling on the ground in their planter. If planted in the ground, they should definitely be growing up on a stake or trellis.

Step 5

Remove all suckers and leaves before the first flower set on each branch. A well-pruned tomato plant should have all leaves facing upwards towards the sunshine.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Pruning scissors
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Old rag or cloth
  • Trellis or stake


  • Pruning Tomato Plants in a Garden
  • Guide To Caring For Tomatoes
  • Video: Pruning Tomato Plants
Keywords: trimming tomatoes, pruning tomato plants, tomato plant care

About this Author

Lauren Wise is a journalism major from Arizona State University with over forty published magazine and media articles and over 400 Web site articles. Wise owns Midnight Publishing with over eight years experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food and wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in magazines including Runway, A2Z, Scottsdale Luxury Living and True West.