Should you prune tomato plants? The variety you MUST cut back

BBC Breakfast: Carol warns Louise about her tomatoes

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Harvest season for many types of fruit and vegetables will fall in the next few months. Sunshine and heat will help them ripen between now and September, and most people should have finished sowing around the spring. Gardeners not yet seeing results may want a little advice on potential interventions, pruning among them.

Should you prune tomato plants?

Gardeners should sow their tomato seeds between February and April, and they will grow both leaves and fruit as they push through the ground.

Tomato plants need to disperse their energy to develop every aspect of their biology, meaning some directs away from the red fruit.

During the first month, all of its sugar production is directed towards the leaves, prompting rapid growth.

Rapid preponderance of this sugar will eventually lead it to produce more than one stem can handle, prompting more leaves.

Multiple leaves increase weight, which could cause the plant to bend towards the ground and direct energy away from the fruit.

Pruning helps keep the tomato plant to a single stem and concentrates growth on its developing fruit.

Redirecting sugars in this way will increase fruit size and production frequency.

While, in theory, it may seem relatively straightforward, pruning methods depend on the plant.

Tomato plants come in cordon and bush varieties, and these demand varying pruning methods.

Horticulturalists may also refer to cordon varieties as vine or indeterminate and bush as determinate.

They will each produce tomato fruit in different ways and have varying biologies.

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How to prune cordon tomato plants

For cordon varieties, the first step in pruning is to extract foliage near to or touching the ground.

Yellow or diseased looking leaves will also need to go, as well as any covering developing fruit.

Gardeners should do this every two weeks or so. Then, remove any stems growing upwards rather than out from the main structure.

Any of those not growing at a right angle, whether old or new, will require removal.

How to prune bush tomato plants

Bush tomato plants are, on average, much less low maintenance.

They will require the same low/yellow leaf maintenance as above, every two weeks.

The bush type tomato plants don’t usually produce stems unless vital.

As such, there will be fewer stragglers for gardeners to eliminate.

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