Trimming overgrown tomato plants?

Fred_in_Maine(Southern Maine)July 20, 2005

IÂve never done any gardening before in my life. This is FUN!!! However, my tomato plants are getting a little big and wild. I hope someone can advise me on what I should do. I have a question about trimming my plants.

I am growing tomatoes; 6 plants. Each in their own 5-Gallon container. Started from seeds in the windowsill mid April I did the hardening off thing that IÂd read about during our miserable, wet May. Brief exposure to the outside elements and then back indoors.

I planted all my 6-8 inch babies June 1. In 3 weeks they quadrupled in size and flowers started to appear. July 4th tomatoes started to appear. Now I have around 120 or so green tomatoes. All but one look pretty healthy.

The plants now range in size from 4-6 feet tall and each plant has easily 5 times as many flowers as there are tomatoes on every plant. If this keeps up IÂm gonna be swimming in tomatoes.

My question is:

Should I trim the size so that energy stops going to increasing height and width of my plants and all the flowers that keep popping up all over? I am just guessing that doing so would cause my plants to dedicate energy to the tomatoes already set to help them ripen. Would this help them ripen sooner?

Or is it too early in the season for me to be making major decisions about ripening energy versus growth energy? Should I just leave my tomato plants alone? Let them continue to grow?

Fred

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maineman(z5a ME)

Fred,

"Now I have around 120 or so green tomatoes. All but one look pretty healthy. The plants now range in size from 4-6 feet tall and each plant has easily 5 times as many flowers as there are tomatoes on every plant. If this keeps up IÂm gonna be swimming in tomatoes."

What variety of tomato is this? If these are a small variety like a cherry, plum, or grape, those fruit numbers would be understandable.

Some people prune a tomato plant to a single "leader". I don't like to do that. It seems a little extreme. I do cut off some older yellowing leaves and a few "suckers", and I also snip off excess tomatoes so that the plant can pour its energy into a smaller number of tomatoes.

Some people do apple trees the same way, removing many small green apples so that the remaining apples will grow bigger.

What you should do with your tomatoes depends, in part, on what variety or varieties you are growing.

MM

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 1:51PM
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Fred_in_Maine(Southern Maine)

Hello MM, I have a variety of plants. One container has a Sugar Snack, two have Early Girls, two have Celebrity and one has Big Beef. This is also the order of most to least prolific.

Thanks for your advice. I had to look up the meaning of "sucker". Now I know they are the extra growth that shoot out between the main stem and the branches. I wonder why people cut these off? They are producing flowers just like all the other branches.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 6:32PM
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maineman(z5a ME)

Fred,

"I wonder why people cut these off? They are producing flowers just like all the other branches."

I think the motivation is to concentrate the plant's energy into fewer flowers and small tomatoes. I remove mostly just the lower suckers that are shaded and tend to become unhealthy anyway.

MM

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 11:47PM
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