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How to Pinch the Tops of Tomato Plants

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017
Tomatoes growing on the plant
tomato plant image by Tracy Horning from Fotolia.com

Tomato plants grow quickly when properly cared for and require pruning maintenance to increase the amount and size of tomatoes produced. Both determinate and indeterminate varieties benefit from pinching off branches and leaves during the growing season. Determinate tomato varieties produce all their fruit during a short period while indeterminate produce a smaller amount of fruit over a longer period. Begin the pruning process early in the season, continue to pinch off growth during fruit production and follow up with pinching in the fall to increase the amount of ripe fruit harvested.

Pinch all blossoms that form on the tomato plant before it is a mature size. This will force the tomato plant to focus energy into growing strong, fruit-bearing branches instead of producing fruit.

Pinch sucker branches that form in the branch joints below the first stem of flower clusters. Suckers are the beginning of new branches and need removing to prevent a heavily branched plant with low fruit production.

Pinch off fruiting branches that form close to the first stem of flower clusters on indeterminate tomato plants. Remove branches so there are four to five main stems left on the indeterminate plants as this increases fruit size and production.

Pinch the leaf tip ends in late summer to early fall when the end of the growing season is near. Remove the top of the tomato plant and several inches off each branch to force the plant to stop growing in size. This will force the plant energy toward ripening fruit before the first frost.


About the Author


Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.