December 14, 2017

Pruning Indeterminate vs. Determinate Tomatoes

Pruning Indeterminate vs. Determinate Tomatoes

Tomato pruning is often an essential task when it comes to growing tomatoes.  As the plants become established and start to take off, they frequently grow out of control.  Suckers will start growing from the base.  Extra stocks will form in less than ideal areas and problems will arise.  When they out grow their pots or boxes, people often question what to prune and how much to take off.  In many cases it is a good idea to prune to contain the plant as well as to maximize and improve the quality of the fruit.

Pruning Determinate Tomatoes

Determinate Tomatoes

Determinate tomatoes grow on plants that are in the form or shape of a bush.  This is due to their limited fruit producing cycle. They typically grow more compact and will max out at a height of three or four feet.  The plant will continue to grow flowers bloom on the upper levels of the plants.  It is common for the majority of the fruit to start to ripen around the same time period. Determinate tomato plants don’t necessarily need stakes for support.  They grow well in planter boxes as well as containers or pots.

Pruning determinate tomato plants is often not recommended.  By pruning you’re reducing the number of tomatoes the plant will offer.  This is not a necessary task when it comes to producing tomatoes from determinate plants.  However, if the plant is out growing it’s designated area, or you have all the tomatoes you want then prune away!  Excessive pruning will not hurt or hinder the plant. Some people find that removing suckers that are lower on the plant will help yield more fruit.  While other people have found that very little will result from this process.  As climates and plants differ in each area it is good practice to see what techniques work best for you and your area.

Pruning Indeterminate Tomatoes

Indeterminate Tomatoes

 Indeterminate tomatoes have more of a vine like movement and if grown to their potential can reach heights over 10 feet.  Pruning indeterminate tomatoes is often recommended to promote new growth.  As areas of the plant produce and wither, they will continue to draw the plants energy.  By pruning these areas, one can help direct the plants energy to more productive areas.  Many gardeners will agree that three or four vines per plant are optimal for producing tomatoes.

Indeterminate tomatoes usually grow throughout the season and continue until weather prohibits them.  In a mild climate they often can grow through the winter and continue into the following season producing fruit.  It is fairly important to stake these plants for support.  As blooms form and produce fruit they will continue to grow.  This process will continue throughout the season.   If left to grow without support, the plant will droop to the ground and the fruit will be susceptible to decay quicker.

Is a Tomato a Fruit 

By now some people might be wondering why this article keeps referring to tomatoes as fruit.  The main reason is that fruit is a general term used for things that plants produce.  Also, it is because tomatoes are technically fruit.  Although, the government recognizes tomatoes as vegetables in order to create additional revenue for tax purposes.  However, looking at them from a botanical perspective they get their start from a botanical ovary that has egg cells, which makes them fruit.

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