To Prune Or Not To Prune

June 4, 2008

I’ve been reading hot debates over whether or not to prune tomato plants.

You’ll read a wide range of opinions on pruning tomato plants.  Some gardeners don’t remove a thing, some just the suckers and others the suckers and the branches below the first set of flowers.  Non-pruners believe that leaving the suckers gives you more fruit and pruners believe that removing the suckers give you less but bigger fruit.  There are some who practice even more extreme pruning.  Yikes!

I love experiments and was happy to find a Garden Web thread on Organic Tomato Magic, a style of pruning where you prune all the suckers and the leaves underneath the first flower branch.  Check out kubotabx2200’s posts and test results (with pics!) on this pruning method.

Since I’ve planted my tomatoes in a row in sets of two I’ve decided to try my own little experiment.  I’ve decided to prune only the suckers off one set of plants and leave the suckers on the other set.

What is a sucker? It’s a small growth at the crux of the branch and stem of a tomato plant. Here is a Cherokee Purple that has not been pruned:

You can see that there are two suckers on it on either side of the stem.  Here is a Cherokee Purple that has been pruned:

See the little nubs in the crux?  That’s where I pinched them off.  As the season goes on, I’ll be interested to see the difference between these two plants.  Maybe I’ll find the stones to plant a third Cherokee Purple and try pruning the suckers and the leaves underneath the first branch of flowers.

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2 Responses to “To Prune Or Not To Prune”

  1. Nancy Bond Says:

    Great experiment, Kathy. It’ll be interesting to see the difference between the two plants. 🙂

  2. mcshane Says:

    New Brunswick area…Last year I just pruned the suckers, this year I did extreme pruning and the results are unreal. I was lucky to get a few nice tomatoes last year, so far I have 30+ fruits per plant, big, some are ripe and they look and taste great. No rot, no mold, no flower drop. Similiar weather, same location, same pots, same cages. It works.


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