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Pruning Tomatoes

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Pruning Tomatoes

Post  Hyzleyes on 6/11/2011, 2:45 pm

New SFGer here. I know I need to prune my tomatoes, just haven't ever done it before and have a few questions...

1. I've pruned all of the suckers. Do I also take off branches? How do I know which ones and how many?

2. Do the branches and the suckers both root and make new plants? If so, how far are they behind the original plant(s)? Just curious if it's worth it now or if they'll be too late for the season.

Thanks in advance!

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  shannon1 on 6/12/2011, 12:34 am

Hi and welcome. I prune off the bottom leaves, any that would touch the ground and any discolored ones as well. Only the suckers will make new plants not leaves.

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  Hyzleyes on 6/12/2011, 8:43 pm

Thank you Shannon! Ok, I've pruned off all the very low branches on all four plants. I've removed all the suckers on two of them and all but the lowest sucker on two of them. I read somewhere that this was recommended. Seems like there are vastly differing opinions out there on this topic! I'm curious though, if in SFG, I should be pruning all of the suckers because of space. Any advice welcome!

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  camprn on 6/12/2011, 10:19 pm

@Hyzleyes wrote: if in SFG, I should be pruning all of the suckers because of space.

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Pruning Tomatoes

Post  sherryeo on 6/12/2011, 10:37 pm

Hyzleyes,

I think it's generally recommended to leave any sucker above the top flowering cluster. You can prune that after the next flowering cluster appears. This is really, from what I understand, to help be sure you're cutting the sucker and not the main stem above the flowers. It is just easier to tell which is which once the next flowering cluster appears - don't prune the branch with the flowering cluster.

There are some excellent posts on pruning tomatoes here on the forum. Just enter "pruning tomatoes" in the little search engine at the bottom of the "Latest Topics" to the left. It should bring up lots of posts, some with a link to a video you can watch that shows how to prune tomatoes (and also "string" tomatoes rather than using stakes for support) that is really good. Very Happy

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  GWN on 6/15/2012, 4:52 pm

I think it's generally recommended to leave any sucker above the top flowering cluster. You can prune that after the next flowering cluster appears. This is really, from what I understand, to help be sure you're cutting the sucker and not the main stem above the flowers. It is just easier to tell which is which once the next flowering cluster appears - don't prune the branch with the flowering cluster.
This is the exact detail I have never been sure of, thanks so much.....

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  camprn on 6/15/2012, 7:57 pm

@GWN wrote:
I think it's generally recommended to leave any sucker above the top flowering cluster. You can prune that after the next flowering cluster appears. This is really, from what I understand, to help be sure you're cutting the sucker and not the main stem above the flowers. It is just easier to tell which is which once the next flowering cluster appears - don't prune the branch with the flowering cluster.
This is the exact detail I have never been sure of, thanks so much.....
I pinch out ALL suckers but will not prune stems of foliage above any bloom.

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  cheyannarach on 7/11/2012, 7:21 pm

So apparently I am terrible about pruning my tomatoes Embarassed I may a missed a few suckers or eight and now have 4 tomatoes with 3-4 vines... They are all indeterminate a jubilee, sweet 100, red delicious, and better boy. Can I trim them back to one vine without killing them?

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  camprn on 7/11/2012, 7:36 pm

@cheyannarach wrote:So apparently I am terrible about pruning my tomatoes Embarassed I may a missed a few suckers or eight and now have 4 tomatoes with 3-4 vines... They are all indeterminate a jubilee, sweet 100, red delicious, and better boy. Can I trim them back to one vine without killing them?
Do all those stems have blooms or fruit? If yes, at this point I would just leave them on and support them as best possible. I have had a similar situation in the past and it really is not a terrible thing! Very Happy

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  cheyannarach on 7/11/2012, 8:11 pm

Alot of them do and some of them don't, should I leave the fruiting ones on and remove the others maybe? If I remove one and stick it in a jug of water will it root that way and make a new plant thinking

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  chjbr63 on 7/11/2012, 9:13 pm

Yes it will, this one was 6 inch sucker that I put in water for about 2 weeks then buried all but an inch. It is about 20 inches and starting to flower now. I think it was somewhere on the forum that I read the age of the DNA is the same as the mother plant so it will fruit around the same time.

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  cheyannarach on 7/12/2012, 12:24 am

@chjbr63 wrote:Yes it will, this one was 6 inch sucker that I put in water for about 2 weeks then buried all but an inch. It is about 20 inches and starting to flower now. I think it was somewhere on the forum that I read the age of the DNA is the same as the mother plant so it will fruit around the same time.

My only concern now is I don't know who the mother is, these are not suckers they are full blown vines so I don't want to kill the mother if I remove them. Thanks so much for the pics! Is that parsley with your tomato? That is also really good to know about fruiting the same time as the mother, a person could save a lot of time and $ buying plants and making new plants this way!

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  chjbr63 on 7/12/2012, 12:48 am

Yes that is parsley. That bucket was suppose to be full of it, most didn't come up so I stuck that sucker in. The only way you will kill the mother is poison, disease, bugs or pulling the whole plant out. I had deer eat 8 of mine down to 3 inch stumps and all of them came back with 2-5 suckers that are the main plant now. Here is another picture. The tomato in the middle of the box was completely eaten. Out of the 3 inch stump grew 5 suckers. 2 weeks ago I cut 2 off that were almost 3 feet long and my mother took them a 100 miles away and they are now doing well in another garden.

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Suckers

Post  Luke Allen on 7/12/2012, 8:27 am

I have always suckered my tomatoes as I feel the fruit has a better taste. However I grow my vines in baskets that are 5 and 1/2 feet tall. As the plants began to get to the top of the baskets I leave all suckers to make a more dense top to shade the rest of the plant. I live in West Texas where shade is very important. This shade lets my plants live through the 100+ temperatures that we have. I harvest fruit until the end of November.

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  cheyannarach on 7/12/2012, 9:14 am

@chjbr63 wrote:Yes that is parsley. That bucket was suppose to be full of it, most didn't come up so I stuck that sucker in. The only way you will kill the mother is poison, disease, bugs or pulling the whole plant out. I had deer eat 8 of mine down to 3 inch stumps and all of them came back with 2-5 suckers that are the main plant now. Here is another picture. The tomato in the middle of the box was completely eaten. Out of the 3 inch stump grew 5 suckers. 2 weeks ago I cut 2 off that were almost 3 feet long and my mother took them a 100 miles away and they are now doing well in another garden.

Alright, you've convinced me! When I get home from work today I am cutting the non flowering vines off! Thank you!

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  GWN on 7/12/2012, 10:13 am

Yes it will, this one was 6 inch sucker that I put in water for about 2 weeks then buried all but an inch. It is about 20 inches and starting to flower now. I think it was somewhere on the forum that I read the age of the DNA is the same as the mother plant so it will fruit around the same time.
This is really interesting, never thought to do that.
I am trying very hard to keep my tomatoes perfectly pruned, because with the SFG they are in smaller places than they used to be. SO I am being RUTHLESS.
I have about 30 plants and I go out every day and even doing that, about once a week I notice that an entire branch has grown up from down below.
I feel terrible chopping it off, but now I will stick them in water. Smile They are very very sneaky.
The other problem I now have with 3 of my plants after a terrible wind storm Monday that hit for 10 minutes but did lots of damage, is that I have 3 plants with no leading stem. So for these I will have to wait for a sucker and then encourage it to become the new "mother"

The OTHER issue I am having is that I decided this year to plant my seedlings laying the rootball on its side with some of the stem to encourage better roots, however almost all of those plants keep sending up new plants at the base of the main plant. These I pull up and stick in water as they all have their own roots. ???

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  cheyannarach on 7/12/2012, 11:18 am

@GWN wrote:
Yes it will, this one was 6 inch sucker that I put in water for about 2 weeks then buried all but an inch. It is about 20 inches and starting to flower now. I think it was somewhere on the forum that I read the age of the DNA is the same as the mother plant so it will fruit around the same time.
This is really interesting, never thought to do that.
I am trying very hard to keep my tomatoes perfectly pruned, because with the SFG they are in smaller places than they used to be. SO I am being RUTHLESS.
I have about 30 plants and I go out every day and even doing that, about once a week I notice that an entire branch has grown up from down below.
I feel terrible chopping it off, but now I will stick them in water. Smile They are very very sneaky.
The other problem I now have with 3 of my plants after a terrible wind storm Monday that hit for 10 minutes but did lots of damage, is that I have 3 plants with no leading stem. So for these I will have to wait for a sucker and then encourage it to become the new "mother"

The OTHER issue I am having is that I decided this year to plant my seedlings laying the rootball on its side with some of the stem to encourage better roots, however almost all of those plants keep sending up new plants at the base of the main plant. These I pull up and stick in water as they all have their own roots. ???

Yes GWN! That's what we are doing and they should develop new roots is a week or so! I did this with basil (with advice from Rowena) and voila! New basil plant!

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  chjbr63 on 7/12/2012, 5:06 pm

Cheyanne,

No need to thank me, I'm just happy I could help. Besides if it were not for the great people running the forum and all the vast knowledge of the members I would have given up gardening a long time ago.

Good Luck With Your Suckers

Chris

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  floyd1440 on 7/12/2012, 8:33 pm


Hey Cheyanne,

How do you get basil to start another plant??? Do I cut it so there are at least two sets of leaves and put the stem in water and it will sprout new roots?

Will this work for oregano too? If so I could have more than one planting with one plant.....

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Re: Pruning Tomatoes

Post  cheyannarach on 7/12/2012, 9:05 pm

@floyd1440 wrote:
Hey Cheyanne,

How do you get basil to start another plant??? Do I cut it so there are at least two sets of leaves and put the stem in water and it will sprout new roots?

Will this work for oregano too? If so I could have more than one planting with one plant.....

I don't remember for sure about oregano because I think oregano creeps and reroots to spread so with that you may be able to dig up an established reroot and relocate it but that is exactly what I did with the basil and it's got lots of roots now, I need to get it in the garden now!

I clipped all but one of my monster suckers and they are all in a bucket of water, hopefully they take, I will keep you posted! I have a few more empty squares after last night darn deer... so I sprinked some fresh cayenne on everything and scattered more coffee grounds all around the yard. I would love to see them when they get a whiff of the pepper :lolsignwave:

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