Pinching out tomato plant side shoots

Pinching out tomato plants

The video below is all about pinching out tomato plants, in particular pinching out the side shoots of tomato plants.

In the video:

  • I explain what tomato plant side shoots are
  • I explain how cordon tomato plants grow and why you need to pinch out the side shoots to ensure that your tomatoes will ripen and be of the best quality
  • I show where you can locate the side shoots on the tomato plant
  • I demonstrate how to pinch out the side shoots
  • And I explain how you need to remain vigilant because the plants will keep sending out side shoots unless you stop it.


Transcript: How to pinch out tomato plants

This is a short video about pinching out tomatoes.

When I first started growing tomatoes, I read gardening books and watched gardening programmes and they always used to talk about pinching out tomatoes.

But it was never really clear to me what that meant.

So here is a simple demonstration and explanation for those people who are new to tomato growing and for whom pinching out tomatoes might still be something of a mystery.

Although, perhaps it was just me that didn’t get it.

So, this applies specifically to cordon tomatoes, which are tomatoes that grow long and tall and will continue to grow from the growing point at the top of the stem.

As long as you let them, they will just keep growing. And that’s really the essence of what this is all about.

These kinds of tomatoes will continue to put on growth all through the growing season, which is good because it means you get big plants and potentially more tomatoes.

But, because for most people in most places in the world, there’s a limit to the growing season, there are only so many tomatoes that are going to mature and ripen during the course of the season.

So what you need to do is to some extent limit the amount of growth that these cordon tomatoes put on.

And the way that you do that, once you’ve got, four to 6 trusses of tomatoes developing on the plant, is to stop the growing point. The growing point is the absolute top of the tomato plant where it is continuing to grow from.

You can just literally cut the top of the stem off, and that would stop the tomato plant from growing at that point.

It won’t then grow any bigger and that allows the tomato to put all the energy that it draws up from the soil into maturing the existing fruits.

Pinching out tomato plants

The other point – and this is where we come back to pinching out tomato side shoots – is that tomatoes not only want to grow upwards like this one, but they also want to put on shoots coming out from the leaf axils – the point between the leaves and the stem.

So those shoots – the side shoots – would then develop into another whole stem, with a growing point from which more fruit trusses could develop. And these cordon tomatoes will try to do that in each of the leaf axils.

These are the shoots that you want to pinch out.

Because if you let them grow on, then they will again continue to take energy from what you’re really trying to achieve, which is a reasonably limited number of good fruit trusses that can develop and give you your perfect tomatoes.

[Indicates side- shoot] So this is the point. It’s these. These are the things you need to pinch out.

These are the side shoots, and pinching out is simple.

They will easily break off.

And you can see where I’ve done it previously.

Here you can see [indicates mark on stem] when I went on holiday and the side-shoot was allowed to develop for quite some time, so it became quite big.

But I could still cut that off and allow the tomato plant to develop along this line to this growing point at the top.

So that is the principal.

And the interesting thing about these about tomatoes is that they’ll somehow find a way to keep putting out these side shoots.

There’s one down here quite near the bottom of the plant that I think I probably may have pinched that one out before. But it’s grown another side shoot and it’s getting quite long.

So out it comes. I’ll take that one out again.

So that leaves you with one clear line of growth up your plant. You may have a sort of cut off, a change of direction point like I’ve got here, but it’s still one clear line going up to the top.

Even at the top there as a side shoot developing near the growing point. And technically, you could choose to leave that side shoot and take out the current growing and the plant would grow from the [side- shoot].

But I won’t because this this main growing point has already developed a flower truss, and there’s another one developing. So, we’ll break this little one off there.

So there you: are pinching out tomatoes.

Pinch out your tomato plant side shoots to develop a single line of growth to ensure that you’ve got all the energy going into the fruit production, which is what you want.

What you might need for growing tomatoes

SaleBestseller No. 1
Adjustable Tomato Cage Plant Support Cages 36 inches Garden Cucumber Trellis,Plant Stake with 4 Adjustable Ring, Support Rings for Vegetables,Flowers,Fruit,Rose Vine Climbing Plants (4 Pack )
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LEOBRO 2 Pack Plant Support Cage Rust Resistant Garden Plant Support Ring Plant Stake Plant Support for Tomato, Trellis, Climbing Plant, Flower, 17.7″ High, 5.48″/6.18″/6.89″ Inner Diameter
  • Plant Cages for Small Plants: Set of 2, 17.7” high, inner diameter of 3 rings is 5.48”, 6.18”, 6.89” respectively. Great for small or medium size plants, like small tomato plants, cherry tomato, pepper, herbs, basils, hydrangea, peony, rose, etc. Also great trellis support for climbing plants. Note: Not fit for large plants, PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK THE MEASUREMENT!!!
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  • 3 Adjustable Rings: All steel clasps are movable and the position of hoops and stakes is adjustable, help satisfy specific support need of plants. Sizes of 3 hoops are different, conform to practical growth principle, provide better support. Stackable, easy to store and ensure safer arrival.
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Bestseller No. 3
Plant Support Tomato Cages for Garden,4 Pack 17.7inch Tomato Stakes Plant Stakes for Climbing Plants Adjustable Plant Trellis for Peony Support(4 Pack with 20M Garden Twist Tie)
  • Premium Plant Stakes:Our plant support cages are made of durable steel with rust-resistant plastic coating,rust-proof and durable to withstand bad weather,reusable for longtime use.
  • Versatile Plant Supports: This plant support cage can well prop up plants to grow uprightly and healthily, prevent plants from falling over or sprawling out, keep them upright,elegant and space-saving.
  • Easy to Use:Just open the plant support stakes and insert it into soil,sharp point easy to insert into soil,with a roll garden twist tie(20m/65.6ft) to help you fix plant on stakes.Stackable design for easy storage and reuse.
  • Adjustable Rings:With movable hooks,3 rings can adjust up and down,left and right,provide better support,smooth and green appearance match most of plant,make your plants look beautiful.It suggests to set up them when plants are young.
  • Package included: 4packs plant cages,17.7inch high, 3 rings diameter is 5.5 inch,6.2 inch and 7 inch. A 20m/65.6ft garden twist tie with build-in cutter. Note:Not fit for large plants, please check the size before purchasing.
SaleBestseller No. 4
3 Packs Tomato Cages Plant Cages Deformable Up to 48inch Garden Tomato Stakes Vegetable Trellis, Plant Supports Tomato Trellis for Vertical Climbing Plants Flowers Fruits
  • 【VARIATY SIZE & SHAPE CAGES】:You can build a triangular tomato cage up to 4feet high, or also assemble to quadrilateral and trapezoidal shelves in any heights. Using the tier system,You can grow vegetables of different heights to help your plants grow vertically.
  • 【STURDY STAKES FOR INDOOR & OUTDOOR USE】:The tomato stakes are made of sturdy metal which the surface is covered with non-fading green plastic coating for weather and rust protection, can use for many years. Meanwhile, one sides of stakes are sharpened points for ease of puting into the soil.
  • 【EASY, NO-TOOLS ASSEMBLING】:Quickly install and take apart them without tools. It is also convenient to store for next year use.
  • 【HEIGHT ADJUSTABLE CAGE】: Snap-on arms and connecting pipes free to adjust the height according to the stage of plant growth, give your vegetable and plant supports perfectly, also making it easier to pick off mature fruits.
  • 【WIDELY USE】:The Plant supports is mainly used to build cage for climbing plant. Perfect for supporting tomatoes, cucumbers stakes, beans, peppers, shrubs, dahlias, lilies, eggplants, orchids, and grapes.
SaleBestseller No. 5
GROWNEER 3 Packs Tomato Cages, Up to 51 Inches Plant Cages Assembled Tomato Garden Cages Stakes Vegetable Support Trellis, with 9Pcs Clips and 328 Feet Twist Tie, for Vertical Climbing Plants
  • ENCOURAGE VERTICAL GROWTH — The cage supports tomato or other plants, and encourages them to grow vertically. So the fruit and leaves don’t weigh down the stems.
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  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE — No tools needed, this cage takes minimal time and effort to set up. 51 inch height meets the maximum height of most tomato plant varieties. Convenient to store after dismantling.
  • FOR CLIMBING PLANTS — This garden cage is designed specifically for vertical climbing plants to provide support. Perfect for growing tomato plants, pole beans, cucumbers, grapes, and kiwi.

Last update on 2022-08-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Bestseller No. 1
Jobe’s organics vegetable & tomato fertilizer (Pack of 2)
  • A unique and proprietary blend beneficial microorganisms that improve long term soil quality by providing beneficial microbes that naturally reestablish a balance between plant and soil
  • Provides a plant the food that it needs while still being safe for the environment
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  • Bag with re-sealable top
  • Pack of 2
Bestseller No. 2
Urban Farm Fertilizers Texas Tomato Food. Competition Tomato Fertilizer. 1/2 Gallon
  • Calcium rich. No more blossom-end rot.
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Bestseller No. 3
Urban Farm Fertilizers Texas Tomato Food, Competition Tomato Fertilizer, 1 Gallon
  • Hand-crafted, high-performance liquid fertilizer for all large vegetables. 4.0-2.9.6.7 NPK.
  • Super-concentrated: 256:1. One gallon makes 256 gallons of full-strength nutrient. One tablespoon
  • For hand-watering, drip, hose-end, foliar, soil, containers, hydroponics.
  • Made from organic teas, mycorrhizae, worm casts, humic acid, kelp, enzymes, and minerals.
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Bestseller No. 4
Easy Gardener 09026 Jobes Organic Vegetable Tomato Fertilizer 4lb. (Pack of 3)
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  • Bag with re-sealable top
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Last update on 2022-08-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What you might need for growing tomatoes – UK Buyers

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