Pinching out tomato plants -pruning side shoots

Pinching out tomato plants

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

If you want to know how to prune tomato plants, this is basically what you need to know.

In the video:

  • I explain what tomato plant side shoots are
  • I explain how cordon tomato plants grow and why you need to prune or 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 and prune the tomato plant’s 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.

Anyway, the bottom line is pinching out tomato plants is just another way of describing how to prune tomato plants to get the best fruit from you plant.

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

Bestseller No. 1
4 Pack Tomato Cages for Garden,Garden Stakes for Plants, Plant Cages with 3 Adjustable Rings,Plant Stake for Supporter Climbing Plants(18 inches,Pack of 4)
  • Plant Cages and Supports Material:Made of a Raw Solid Steel these are sturdy Garden Plant Supports,and the outer layer of the pole is wrapped in plastic
  • Adjustable rings:They are easy to use, rings can be adjusted according to the size of your plants, in line with plant growth principles and provide better support
  • 48 garden clips: These clips keep your rings from leaning too much,Ideal for supporting pot plants
  • Rugged and tall, these cone shaped wire cages can support large tomato plants and other vine or bushy, top heavy plants
  • What You Get: 4 plant support stakes.10 rings.48 buckles. worry-free 18-month warranty, and friendly customer service
Bestseller No. 2
Gardener’s Supply Company Lifetime Tomato Cages Plant Stand | Heavy Gauge Sturdy Garden Plants Support for Tomatoes Peppers and Other Climbing Plants | No Assembly Needed – Green (Set of 4)
  • PRODUCT DETAILS: Gardeners Supply Exclusive Tomato Cage Plant Support Our heavy-duty, powder-coated steel tomato cages are taller, wider, and stronger than old-fashioned cone-shaped supports. And unlike flimsier versions, these are strong enough to support full-grown vines loaded with tomatoes for easy harvesting. Measurements: 14-3/8″” square x 39″H overall including 7″ legs; 32″ H installed – 8″ square openings
  • BEST USE AS: Tomato Plant Trellis and Other Climbing Plants Vines Support Our Sturdy Tomato Cage Support is sturdy enough to hold young tomato plants until in their matured state and ready to yield their fruits. With its genius and easy-to-use design, You can arrange them any way you like. Ideal for raised beds and small-space gardens.
  • HIGH-QUALITY BUILT: Gardener’s Supply Company Exclusive Made with very durable and built with stability to keep tomato plants upright for a bigger, cleaner & unblemished harvest. The frame is made from long-lasting, weatherproof powder-coated steel, these tomato ladders will be ready to support your harvest season after season. With its 8″ square wide openings, harvesting yummy tomatoes would be easier and more convenient for you.
  • EASY TO INSTALL / USE: Simply Install the Tomato Plant Support to the base soil surrounding the Tomato tree or other plants that need support protection. With its strong frame built, It protects our Plants from strong winds or heavy rains and assures full upright growth to yield unblemished tomatoes. With its hinged panel’s design, it can be easily folded flat for compact storage during off-seasons.
  • OUTDOOR GARDEN TESTED & GUARANTEED: Every purchase you make is 100% guaranteed. We will exchange or refund your purchase for any product that is not what you expected or does not work as described during its lifetime.
SaleBestseller No. 3
K-Brands Tomato Cage – Premium Tomato Plant Stakes Support Cages Trellis for Garden and Pots (Upto 68 Inches Tall)
  • STURDY STAKES FOR INDOOR & OUTDOOR USE – Combining a strong, steel core with a sturdy, thick plastic coating, our stakes can steadily support your tomatoes, both in indoor and outdoor environments.
  • QUICK, EASY, NO-TOOLS ASSEMBLING – You need neither a helping hand, nor additional gardening tools or accessories to set up your tomato plant, or any other plant you wish to grow; assembling the poles with their snapping clips is simple, time-saving, and effortless.
  • HANDY FOR MORE THAN JUST TOMATOES – Our garden cage can help the growth of several vertical climbing plants such as jasmine, beans, or roses. Its ergonomic design ensures that your plant’s fruit and leaves won’t weigh down the stems.
  • SUPPORT YOUR PLANTS DURING GROWING SEASON – Adjustability is the key to helping your vine plants grow healthily. Thanks to the snap-on clips, you can reposition their cage to match their needs and ensure continuous support.
  • REACHES UP TO 68” HEIGHT – An excellent size which gives ample space for seedlings (plant babies) and starter plants to grow and offer you beautiful blooms or quality harvest.
Bestseller No. 4
Legigo 4ft 4-Pack Tomato Cage for Garden Plant Support- Up to 48inch Garden Stakes Tomato Cage, Tomato Trellis for Potted Plants, Tomato Cages Plant Stakes for Climbing Vegetables Plants Flowers
  • 【Value Package】You will get 36 pcs plastic core stakes, 36 snap-on arms and 27 connecting pipes, 100pcs 20cm plant ties, it will provide ample space for plant growth, the green color makes them blend in better with the plants. This is a great choose for vegetables that are growing in the ground.
  • 【Premiun Material】Plant stakes are made of high quality pp material, sturdy and long-lasting, it’s super easy to put together and customize, anyone can do it in a couple of minutes, you can adjust to what height and length you need, and also can easily take apart them for storage afterwards the season is over.
  • 【Excellent Design】The ends of the plastic core stakes are pointy, so it helps bury them down the soil; The connecting pipes help you adjust the height of your garden stakes according to the height of the plant. The snap-on arms will help you form different shapes; we also provided plant tie for the plants to attach them as they climb.
  • 【No-tools Assemble】No tools needed! It came with plenty of interconnecting parts to ensure stability, you can splice these in triangles, squares, hexagons depending on the size of plants. Compared to traditional wire cages, it can easier add, remove or adjust the stake as needed as your plants grow or can be combined freely.
  • 【Wide Application】Tomato cage can provide support for your climb plants, flowers and vegetables, make them grow vertically, or use for a growing rose bush that needed to straighten, also can as a gift for friends who loves gardening. It’s suitable for outdoor courtyards, indoor balconies, patio, outdoor rooftops, vegetable greenhouses.
Bestseller No. 5
Megidok Tomato Cages – Garden Plant Stakes Support 2 Pack 49″ with 164ft Plant Ties&20 Pcs Plant Clips&2 Watering Drip Devices for Climbing Plants Vegetable
  • Multiple Splicing Methods: It can be assembled into a 2-pack of 49-inch-tall tomato cages.
  • Sturdy and Stable: Made of rust-proof and corrosion-resistant materials, it can be reused for more than 3 years under different weather conditions.
  • Heavy-Duty Tomatoes: Wrap the included 165-foot rope between the two connectors and the stake and tighten it. After testing, it can fully withstand any variety of tomatoes and prevent any possibility of slipping.
  • Great Value Package: Comes with 2 garden drip irrigation devices with adjustable drip speed, 20 plant support clips and 165 feet of rope to help you better manage your plants and ensure their healthy growth.
  • Suitable for a Variety of Plants: ordinary tomatoes, large tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries, etc. It is also suitable for climbing plants and flowers to meet your diverse planting needs.

Last update on 2024-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

SaleBestseller No. 1
Jobe’s Organics Granular Garden Fertilizer, Easy Plant Care Fertilizer for Vegetable Gardens and Tomato Plants, 4 lbs Bag
  • Fertilizer Analysis: 2-5-3. Great for vegetable and tomato plants.
  • Made in the USA. Made from sustainable materials. No synthetic chemicals.
  • Omri registered for organic gardening. All natural, safe for the environment. People and pet friendly.
  • Apply every 4-6 weeks. Produces more vegetables! Mix directly into the soil or use to side-dress. Will not burn plants when applied as directed.
  • Convenient, resealable, water-proof 4lb bag. 1lb = 3 cups. Guaranteed results.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Miracle-Gro 2000422 Plant Food, 1.5-Pound (Tomato Fertilizer), 1.5 lb
  • Instantly feeds to grow bigger, more bountiful vegetables versus. unfed plants
  • Feed every 1-2 weeks
  • Great for tomatoes and vegetables
  • Use with Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder or any watering can
  • Safe for all plants, guaranteed not to burn when used as directed
SaleBestseller No. 3
Dynamite Mater Magic – Organic Tomato Fertilizer for Bigger, Juicier Tomatoes and Vegetables, OMRI Listed, Nitrogen and Calcium-Rich Plant Food – .675 Pound Container with Shaker Lid
  • Natural and organic mater magic plant food
  • Contains all the nutrients needed to grow bigger, juicier tomatoes with higher yields, plus calcium to help prevent end rot
  • Tomato shaped bottle for high impact and cross-merchandising
  • For all flowering shrubs, trees, landscape plants, foliage, houseplants, ferns, palms, grasses and herbs
  • This product comes in 0.675-pound
SaleBestseller No. 4
Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer Poly Bag
  • For more nutritious and tasty vegetables
  • Optimum levels of primary plant nutrients
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  • Feeds for several months
  • Made with 100% organic and natural ingredients
Bestseller No. 5
Jobe’s Fertilizer 06000, Spikes, For All Tomato Plants, 18 Spikes
  • Pre-measured fertilizer spikes nourishes at the roots; Time release fertilizer spikes for tomatoes
  • Easy to use fertilizer spikes; No wasteful runoff, no mess, hazards or smells
  • Continuous supply of nutrients below the surface, where the active roots are growing
  • Jobe’s spikes feeds for continuous nourishment for robust tomato plants
  • Guaranteed fertilizer analysis: (6-18-6) 18 fertilizer spikes in blister packaging

Last update on 2024-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What you might need for growing tomatoes – UK Buyers

Learn more about growing vegetables

Check out these posts for more on growing your edible plants:

How to grow zucchini – this is the ultimate guide to growing this delicious squash.

How to get the best from your basil.

How to prick you tour tomato seedlings.

Here is what to do if your tomatoes are not ripening and turning red.

How far apart to plant tomato plants

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