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Do you let your tomatoes sprawl or do you prune them back? Why do one or the other? Tell me something about pruning tomatoes please!! Does it depend on the support you have?<br>
And if you do prune them - how? What to prune and what to leave alone?
 

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Depends on if your tomato plant is indeterminite, or of the determinite and more compact bushy type. Look on the plant tag or seed packet to find out. If it's indeterminite, train it to grow on a single stake by tying it with tomato ties to the the tall single stake (at least 6 feet tall plus 1 foot dug into the ground for stability), and keep the "suckers" pruned off. The suckers are the stems that grow in between the main stem and the leaf stems. Pinch them off when they are young if you can, or just keep them pruned off. You can also trellis tomato plants if you have several of them. You can do cages if they're the determinite type, though I am not sure about how the pruning works with this method.
 

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You can prune suckers off the determinate types as well - less necessary for "shaping" the plant, but it does increase the productivity of the remaining branches. Just gently break off the sucker as it comes out of the crotch between the two branches. (If it's just a teeny one with flowers, let that go - I mean the big leafy wannabe branches.)<br><br>
Happy tomatoes!
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">Depends on if your tomato plant is indeterminite, or of the determinite and more compact bushy type. Look on the plant tag or seed packet to find out. If it's indeterminite, train it to grow on a single stake by tying it with tomato ties to the the tall single stake (at least 6 feet tall plus 1 foot dug into the ground for stability), and keep the "suckers" pruned off. The suckers are the stems that grow in between the main stem and the leaf stems. Pinch them off when they are young if you can, or just keep them pruned off. You can also trellis tomato plants if you have several of them. You can do cages if they're the determinite type, though I am not sure about how the pruning works with this method.</div>
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Why prune the suckers? Are they bad for the tomato plant or is it more for shaping the plant as it grows?
 

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Well, for indeterminates it's for shaping primarily. For determinates (and I guess it would help indeterminates as well) it removes some of the green growth the plant is trying to put out, letting it turn more energy into fruit rather than leaves. At least that's the theory.<br><br>
Back to the project...
 

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Yes that is my understanding too...those suckers are never going to produce fruit, they are just taking energy away from the fruit-producing stems.
 

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I've always just let mine grow as big as they wanted - no pruning at all. It's a lot less work that way. I remember reading years ago that with or without pruning, you'll generally get the same total weight of fruit from your plants; if you prune, you'll have fewer, larger tomatoes, and if you don't prune, you'll have more tomatoes but they'll be smaller.<br><br>
The thing about not pruning is that you need really sturdy cages to hold them. The commercially available ones will generally work for determinate plants (if you buy the biggest, sturdiest cages you can find), but for the bigger plants you need to either fasten a stake or two to the cage to help support it, or make your own cages. Concrete reinforcing wire works well.
 

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Here in Florida, humidity and the diseases that are encouraged by it are a big problem. Pruning enhances air flow throughout the plant and helps keep moisture-loving diseases at bay. Also, I prune my tomatoes so that the lower 6" of stalk is bare. I've read that when the lower branches come in contact with the soil, you're opening your plant up to soil-borne diseases, too.
 
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