Tomato plant size is a serious topic that divides gardeners. Some consider it essential, at least for certain varieties, and talk about pruning, topping, stripping or disbudding. Others say it is totally useless, even counterproductive. In this area, there is two schools. If pruning makes it possible to obtain earlier production, it leads to a reduction in fruit production, which is why, after comparing the two solutions, many experienced gardeners prefer not to prune their tomato plants anymore. After a review of their arguments, let’s see how to go about doing a pruning.
Pruning tomato plants: advantages and disadvantages
One may be tempted to prune this vegetable species to allow the fruits to mature more quickly. Nothing proves it. At most, you can save three or four days… But the only real advantage of pruning your tomato plants is to promote the development fruits which, being suddenly less numerous, will become a little bigger.
On the other hand, the size of tomato plants presents many disadvantages.
- cause of sores which favor the maladies,
- Causes a too much exposure of fruits to direct sunlight too hot in summer, due to the reduced leaf area. We eliminate the branches that are born in the armpit of the leaves, falsely called “greedy”,
- Restricts the development of plants since the fewer the leaves, the less the photosynthesis is important,
- Significantly reduces production since what are wrongly called suckers are in fact, in tomato plants, branches that bear fruit. Thus, an unpruned tomato stalk can produce up to three more than a pruned foot.
Nothing therefore prevents let his tomato stalks grow freelywithout ever pruning them, to take advantage of much more abundant harvest. Admittedly, under these conditions, the fruits are not graded at all, but that is not a problem if they are not intended for sale. They are also slightly smaller but we get tastier tomatoesthe solar energy being converted into sugar since uncut tomato plants have more leaves.
We can also appreciate the fact that refraining from pruning considerably lightens the gardener’s schedule.
What about tomato lovers?
A branch which develops spontaneously from a wood eye and which does not produce fruit is called greedy or substitute, even also vine in the field of viticulture. It exhausts the plant unnecessarily by diverting the sap it needs to grow. However, contrary to what many gardeners think, a tomato stalk does not produce real gourmands since all its branches bear fruit.
It is important to understand the difference between a secondary stem and a sucker. If it pumps energy from the plant, the stem (or branch) provides it through its leaves since they are the ones that provide it with this energy through photosynthesis. We therefore understand that the more leaves a tomato plant has, the more vigorous it is.
Tomato stem pruning method
Some gardeners have the habit of pruning their tomato plants, especially when they grow so-called undetermined port as is the case for example with certain varieties of cherry tomatoes, but they are not the only ones in this category.
This allows to limit the number of branches that it is necessary to attach to a support. This is also the only reason why we used to prune the tomato stalks. Today, we can use a tomato cage to make yourself in order to support a very vigorous foot without having to prune its secondary stems which, remember, are not greedy. It’s much better thantopping the tomato stalkss with the aim of limiting the height of each plant so as not to have to make makeshift stakes 2 to 3 meters high because they are rarely offered by specialist gardening brands. Be that as it may, pruning enthusiasts will always find a good reason to play with pruning shears… They can therefore:
- Pincer in June to remove with a dry gesture the secondary stems which one seizes between the thumb and the index.
- To cut the stalks that grow at the base of the tomato plant.
- To delete the large secondary stems that we do not want to keep. The use of secateurs is then essential to obtain a clean cut and promote healing.
- Topping the main stem in order to stop its growth above the sixth bouquet of flowers. Topping takes place during the summer.
- Leafing at the end of summer, which consists of removing all yellowed or dry leaves.
We frequently hear that do not prune your tomato stalks promotes plant growth to the detriment of fruit production, which is far from fair. To realize this, all you have to do is let their secondary stems grow (the famous “greedy ones” which in fact are not), without imposing any size on them. They will inevitably flower and produce tomatoes. But it is up to each gardener to adopt his own theory.