How do I prune my plants and why is it beneficial?
Always use sharp cutters so as to minimize any damage to the tomato plant and make a good, clean cut right up against the main stem. Check your tomato plants regularly for any signs of stress, damage, or disease so that these problem stems can be removed quickly to avoid any additional problems to the rest of the plant.
In the early stages of growth, the plant will vigorously produce branches and leaves that become crucial in photosynthesis. Because we have no idea which branches will end up producing tomatoes, the only pruning recommended is to remove any branches that contain damaged leaves or that have developed some condition that we want to keep from spreading to the rest of the plant. Also remove any suckers, the vertical growing branches that form in the joint of another branch and the main stem.
As the plant develops, it can produce very heavy foliage that can be detrimental to the plant in 2 ways: 1. The foliage blocks the sun from the inner leaves and branches; or, 2. The foliage prevents good air circulation after a rainfall to dry out the leaves quickly, allowing them to remain moist for a long period and setting up prime conditions for fungus growth and disease. Pruning is therefore important during this intermediate growth phase.
Be careful not to prune excessively—remembering that we are not pruning to make the plant look good, we are pruning it to make it grow better. Do the second pruning when the tomatoes just begin to form. If a branch has blossoms on it, leave it alone. These blossoms will turn into tomatoes eventually. You can prune away any stem that does not have blossoms, but do not cut away more than one-third of the foliage because the leaves are still crucial to growth at this point.
As soon as the plant has produced its first ripe tomato, prune one last time. Look at all the branches one by one. If any branches have yellow blossoms on them, leave those alone. Find all of the branches that do not have any blossoms on them. You can cut back one or two non-producing branches from each of the main branches growing out of the main stem. This will force the tomato plant to channel more of its energy into the tomatoes themselves.