To prune or not to prune tomato plants? That is the question. G’day! I’m mark from
Self Sufficient Me, and in this video I’m going to explain to you guys
why I prune my tomato plants and why I don’t prune my tomato plants. Let’s get into it! There are several things markers, timings, instances that I look for whenever I’m thinking of pruning
or not to prune my tomato plants and the first one is the type of tomato plant. Basically there are two types of tomato plants: An Indeterminate tomato which grows up and keeps growing like a vine and you can see how this
one is about a metre long now and it’s starting to be trained along the top of
this trellis, for the fruit to grow and hang down. And this will keep producing leaders that will
lead out from the middle of the branches and just keep going and growing
and keep expanding if you let it. And then there’s the other type of tomato
plant, and that’s the Determinate type which is this type, and they grow like a bush. Bushy, maybe no more than perhaps a metre tall. Let’s start with the indeterminate type of plant. These are mostly indeterminates that
are growing on this side of our trellis. And you can see that I’ve really stripped
the bottom two feet on most of these plants completely away, there’s
hardly any foliage at all and you can just see trusses of tomatoes sticking out here like shags on a rock basically because there is nothing there to hide them. And in general, I will prune
indeterminate type plants as a rule because they do tend to get out of control
if you don’t control the growth of the plant. On this side, these are all
determinate type tomato plants and as a general rule, I don’t
prune these much at all because if you think about it, they
have a limited height anyway and the more you prune off them, the more
you’re just going to retard the growth. If they’re only going to get to about a metre
high, you don’t want to take off more limbs because that means you’ll be producing less fruit and that’s not the purpose of growing a tomato plant
is it? It’s to get as much fruit as possible on that plant. So these yes, they usually
do need staking and support especially when they start
getting laden with fruit but generally, you don’t prune them back. The second thing that influences me
about when I prune and when I don’t is are we growing anything
underneath the tomato crop such as these beetroot here, or salads, or herbs? Because if you are well then you want to shed light on
those plants as much as possible. And if you don’t, well then they’re
not going to grow too well. But to maximise space, I like to grow
some smaller plants like salad crops or even beetroot, because they do okay
in the shade, underneath tomatoes. Sometimes even pees or beans
because they can complement tomatoes and even fix or add nitrogen to the soil,
and help the tomato plants grow as well. The third thing I think about
when considering to prune or not is diseased leaves or branches,
or even just lower branches because lower branches
inevitably become diseased first because they have the most exposure
to the soil where the fungus hides. As a general rule, determinate or indeterminate all tomato plants, I will trim them at
least several inches up from the base so that these lower branches
don’t touch the ground. And you can see here a great example of these lower branches starting to
become diseased, and these leaves and the other leaves up
the top here, disease free. So what I’ll do now is I’ll give you a quick example of
how I do just simply trim the base around these plants to limit that disease spreading. Ew, I just noticed a tomato.. So this is a pest that’s
got into here, a grub and so I’ve pruned those tomatoes off. That grub is
probably inside, and there’s one on the outside here. That would grow into another one and that’ll just eat more, ruin
more tomatoes one by one so even pruning the odd tomato that doesn’t
look right, or has a hole in it, will help as well. That’ll get eaten by ants or birds now. There we go, that’s much better. All cleaned up, aerated in the middle here leaves, branches off the ground and I got rid of any leaves or branches that I
saw with even a slightest sign of leaf disease. And that should stay that disease for longer. It won’t stop tomatoes getting
overpowered eventually by disease but it will slow it down considerably. And this is a good example to lead me
onto the next point of pruning or not pruning. You can see this is an indeterminate variety it’s growing large and it’s creeping out,
and I’m holding it up with twine here and there tying it to this structure but I’m not training it to just
one stem, I’ve let it grow wild. And the reason for that is,
it’s the only tomato there. I’m letting it branch out a bit
more to get some more fruit and let it have a bit of free reign, why not? Tomato plants are designed
to do that, just sprawl out. I’ll just show you the contrast.
Back over at the trellis there you can see that I’m pruning them
quite savagely at the base and also chopping the branches off them to stop them sprawling out over each other. Check out these two growing side by side. These are both indeterminate, they’re Money makers so they’ll grow to a medium-large size tomato and you can see they’re quite close. They’re within around about 8 inches apart. Normally you plant tomatoes maybe
40cm apart, that’s the ‘standard grain’ but y’know, I hardly ever go standard. I like to squish in my plants but there is a compromise I make, and that is I don’t want these bushing together, otherwise too much
humidity, too much moisture, not enough aeration. If it was a one plant here like over there I would just let it branch out more,
perhaps have four or five branches but because they’re growing so close
together, I’ve trimmed them back. And you might say well why don’t
you just put one plant there then? Well, that’s a good question. For the larger varieties in particular,
when you grow them off one main stem that might branch out to two leaders, or three max you get the best results out of tomatoes,
and strengthen the plant rather than trying to grow one tomato plant and spreading that over a larger area with several different leaders coming off it. This works okay for small tomato varieties,
and I’ll show you that in a minute but it doesn’t work too good
for the larger varieties. Another theory behind it
is that when you do that the tomatoes, if they’re the larger
varieties, will grow a bit bigger rather than having a big bushy plant
with lots of trusses and smaller tomatoes. And the last thing I’ll talk about pruning
or not to prune are the exceptions. Check out this magnificent specimen here. This is a Rootstock tomato. The tomatoes are very small,
cherry-like tomatoes. They are part of the very
first original tomato plants that ruled the world probably
way before humans and what a lot of modern day
tomatoes are derived from. This will grow vigorous,
and in situations and soils that other tomato plants
or varieties like the larger ones can’t sustain or won’t grow as well in. I just like to grow them as a tough tomato plant that is an insurance against crop failure or just to have some
beautiful cherry tomatoes to eat. If you look through here, you’ll see where
the tomatoes are ripening on the inside. Just beautiful. See, a tomato plant like this
doesn’t like getting pruned too much and if you do prune it too much, you’re
not going to get much growth out of it. This type of tomato plant loves
growing bushy, and I would leave it. Even if you do see some disease at the
base start, oh you can cut that off I suppose but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be
trying to train it into one or two leaders because you’re going to be limiting the fruit and with this type of berry tomato it really does like to set
the fruit in the inner foliage and protect it, because
they’re only a small tomato If it gets too much sun on them, they can burn and the fruit shrivels quite quickly so that’s why I like to leave quite a bit of
foliage on these types of tomatoes regardless and just let them bush out and take over areas because you’re going to
get the best results out of it. So that’s the exception. So I hope that answers any questions on when to prune, or when
not to prune tomato plants. If it didn’t, whack a question
down in the comment section and I’ll hopefully be able to
get to it and answer it for you other people might as well.
If you’re a beginner gardener a lot of advanced gardeners do watch my videos and they are a wealth of knowledge
also down in the comment section so even those guys might be able
to answer the question for you. I hope you enjoyed this video. If you did,
make sure you give it a big thumbs up and subscribe to the channel
if you haven’t already. Go on, hit that subscribe button! Thanks a lot for watching. Bye for now! I recommend you grow these fellas. Tell you what, they are beautiful and they do make a good tomato sauce too. Yes, you need a whole lot.