Growing tomatoes can be a very simple thing to do, and one plant alone produces a lot of fruit, which is always a plus! Of course, when you see all your beautiful tomatoes, you will want to know how to prune the plant properly without damaging the fruit or the plant. There are many mistakes you will want to avoid when pruning your tomato plant, even though they may seem basic, they happen more often than you’d think.
These are the six most common mistakes you will want to avoid when pruning.
1. Pruning Determinate Tomato Plants
This is a very common mistake when it comes to pruning tomato plants. Gardeners may not realize that determinate, or bush, tomato plants have a “built-in” pruning system. These plants will reach a certain height and then just stop growing.
That means that determinate tomatoes grow, produce fruit within a few weeks, and then start to die off. So, when it comes to pruning these plants, you just need to remove any dead stems, leaves, or fruit to keep your plant happy and healthy.
Pruning and removing suckers from these plants is generally not needed because they stop growing on their own. But, you will want to make sure your plant is healthy and sometimes that means removing some leaves.
2. Using Dirty/ Dull Tools
Another very common mistake that gardeners make when pruning their tomatoes is using tools that are dirty or dull. It’s very important to clean your pruning scissors before and after using them. You can easily clean your tools with either bleach or rubbing alcohol. Pour a small amount on a rag and wipe them down completely.
By keeping your tools clean you will protect your plants from diseases your tools may have come in contact with.
If you are pruning your plant and you notice your scissors are not cutting cleanly through the stems or leaves, that is a good sign that they are dull and need to be replaced or sharpened.
Over-pruning is easy to do unintentionally. You may think that clearing out leaves will make your plant grow faster, but that is not always the case. Over-pruning can lead to damaging your plant’s stems, leaves, and existing fruit. Your tomato plant needs it leaves to provide some shade from the sun, which prevents them from getting burnt.
If you want to keep your plant happy and healthy, then only remove the leaves that are dead or burnt from the sun. This will help your plant thrive and encourage more growth. While you’re doing this, it wouldn’t hurt to check for pests.
It’s important when pruning this plant that you make sure the leaves and stems are not touching the wet soil. When leaves and stems sit in wet/moist soil they run the risk of becoming diseased. So, be sure not to over-prune but, don’t overlook the leaves near the ground.
4. Postponing Pruning
This one is hard because we all get busy during the summer months and can easily forget to prune our plants. But for the health of your plant, it is important to not forget to prune every so often.
This does not have to be something that is done every day and should not take up a lot of your time. You should start pruning your plant when it is about 1-2 feet tall so it is fully established. You will want to try to prune once a week, maybe twice if your plant is very lush. Pruning generally should only take 20 to 30 minutes a week to get done properly.
5. Pruning When It’s Hot Outside
You may want to do your gardening and pruning when it is nice and hot outside, but that is the opposite of what you should do! Pruning in the height of heat is not a good idea because it could damage your tomato plant.
The best times of day to prune tomato plants are early in the morning or in the evening when it’s cooler outside. When you prune midday you are exposing your plant’s “insides” to the heat. That can burn them and possibly kill them; you want to give your plants an opportunity to adjust. This is similar to why you should water your plants in the morning – to give them the opportunity to soak everything up.
6. Pruning When Your Plant Is Wet
This one is very important to remember when it comes to pruning. It’s a good rule of thumb not to prune any vegetable in your garden after rain or when the leaves are wet. Wet leaves and stems can spread disease from leaf to leaf or plant to plant in your garden.
To avoid upsetting your plants, try to prune them on a dry day in the morning or evening. Water them well after you’ve finished pruning.
Don’t Make The Same Mistake Twice
There are many benefits to growing tomatoes, but you do need to be careful when pruning your plants. These six very common mistakes are things that most people either forget or do not know. But if you follow these tips, pruning your plant should be quick and painless.