How to Trim Tomato Plants


Pruning tomato plants throughout the growing season forces the plant to focus energy toward fruit production, gives the plants room to grow and increases air circulation to prevent disease and pest problems. Indeterminate tomato varieties are pruned to control plant growth as they will continue to produce stems and fruit throughout the season until frost kills the plant. Determinate tomato varieties are pruned to strengthen the plant as the fruit forms and develops during a single stage in the growing season.

Determinate Tomatoes

Step 1

Remove all blossoms until the plant becomes established. This will direct the plant energy into growing strong instead of producing early fruit.

Step 2

Trim all sucker growth that appears below the first flower cluster. A sucker is a shoot that grows between main stems on the plant. Pinch the sucker off immediately after it appears and discard. Excess sucker growth creates a leggy plant with less fruit.

Step 3

Trim to top the plant by pinching off the growing tips near the end of the growing season. This will force the plant to put energy into ripening the tomatoes that remain on the plant instead of continuing to grow foliage.

Indeterminate Tomatoes

Step 1

Trim to remove all blossoms from an indeterminate tomato until the plant reaches a height of 12 to 18 inches.

Step 2

Trim to remove sucker growth that grows below the first flower cluster. Suckers are plant growth that appears between main stems on the plant. Pinch the sucker to remove it immediately after the growth appears. Removing all suckers above and below the first cluster will produce a single vine on indeterminate tomato plants.

Step 3

Trim the plant to keep the fruiting branches close to the first blossom cluster. Keep no more than four main stems growing on an indeterminate tomato. The fewer stems on the plant, the larger the fruit will be.

Step 4

Trim to top the plant approximately 30 days before the first fall frost. Remove all growing tips to direct the plant energy toward ripening fruit instead of growing foliage.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden pruning clipper


  • Fine Gardening: Pruning Tomatoes
  • How to Do Things: How to Prune Tomatoes
  • Growing Tomatoes: Pruning Tomatoes
Keywords: prune tomato plants, trim tomato plants, control tomato growth

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.