The Best And Complete Guide On Growing And Pruning Indeterminate Tomatoes!

Pruning indeterminate tomatoes is usually overlooked by many growers because they either don’t have the right knowledge about the process or underestimate its importance. Indeterminate tomatoes must be pruned rightly to tame their growth as well as started well so that they give a bountiful harvest. We are going to help you with the perfect guide for both of the processes so that you get a mess-free indeterminate tomato plant.


pruning indeterminate tomatoes

The basic factor that is responsible for the categorization of tomato plant varieties is the set of certain morphological features that the species in each category share. The major aspect that characterizes the indeterminate tomatoes is their higher growth capacity. Let us highlight the primary features of the indeterminate tomato varieties:

  • The apical meristem of these varieties exists in the form of a leaf bud. This is related to the higher growth abilities of the plant where it keeps growing taller and taller as long as it keeps getting the right care like proper fertilization and irrigation.
  • These plants can reach a height of up to 12 feet too.
  • A longer growth period also means higher fruit production and that’s exactly what stands true in the case of indeterminate tomatoes too. They produce fruits lifelong in their season.
  • These plants grow on trails better too.
  • Some of the example species that come in the category of indeterminate tomatoes include Fantastic, Better Boy, Early Girl, etc.

Advantages of pruning tomato plants

Pruning has different benefits for different tomato varieties and here are some of the common ways in which it proves advantageous to all tomato plants:

  • Pruning helps a lot in allowing even fruit production in all parts of the plant, especially the top portion which usually doesn’t fruit much due to the nutrients reaching theirs lately. With proper pruning of the plant, the nutrition distribution becomes better and every part grows nicely.
  • Suckers also produce fruits but their removal from the plant bottom helps to prevent fruit growth at the bottom that eventually rots due to contact with the ground. Such fruits only end up increasing the plant problems like plunging and diseases spread.
  • The removal of overcrowding foliage near the bottom portion of the plant leads to better air circulation throughout the plant web that in turn prevents a lot of other plant problems like rotting or wilting.
  • Cleaner and widely spaced foliage prevents cramping up by intruders like insects and pests.

Guide on pruning the indeterminate tomato plant varieties

pruning indeterminate tomatoes

Indeterminate tomato plants do better with pruning only as they are at a higher risk of becoming just an entangled rotting mess due to their fast-growing stems and foliage. Further, the case with these plants is that they tend to grow more stems that affect their fruit production capacity too by making the fruits smaller in size. Thus, the major benefit of pruning them lies in the promotion of bigger fruits on lesser stems.

You can go about pruning your indeterminate tomato crop in the following two methods:

Simple pruning- This involves completely pinching off the sucker by grabbing the base of it and twisting it to and fro for a harmless cut away. This completely removes the possibility of these suckers becoming stems. Do so when the suckers are small.

Missouri pruning- This involves the pinching of just the sucker tip and lets a couple of leaves intact. This boosts the photosynthesis capabilities of the plant along but may require the process to be repeated more often as the suckers will re-surface sooner again. Do so when the suckers are bigger.

Method of pruning the tomatoes

We are going to present a process of pruning that is specially designed for pruning indeterminate tomatoes and includes the must-be-followed steps to remove all the glitch possibilities. Let’s begin:

Understand the target areas

Before you start with the actual process, it is very important to understand the parts of the plant that you have to cut and the others which are to be left untouched as such mistakes can defeat the whole purpose only. You must take a thorough look at your plant, observe these parts, and deal with them the way we tell you:

  • Main stem- This part is not to be cut at all as it is the main bearer of all the foliage, fruits, and growing base.
  • Fruit clusters- These indicate the tomatoes that are in the growth phase and are not to be cut.
  • Flower clusters- These indicate the yellow flowers of the fruits in their birth stage and are not to be cut.
  • Leaves- Look out for the places from the leaves and follow their connecting trails till the stem. They don’t have to be removed unless they are damaged in any case.
  • Sucker- You can find this part between the tomato stem and the main stem of the plant and it looks like a small stem growing upwards. This is the part that bears new tomatoes and can even become a whole new plant if started separately. Suckers are, thus, the major target when it comes to pruning the indeterminate tomatoes.

Start the pruning

You need to begin with finding the fruit or flower cluster at the lowest portion and then find the immediate sucker under or close to it. Now, you can remove every other sucker on the plant but this one because it is the greatest powerhouse of the plant. You have to remember this during the whole process and now you can begin pruning all other suckers.

Start with removing all suckers close to the lowest one and you can use a pruning knife for it. Pinching slightly is another great good way and you have to pinch the base portion of the sucker. It is better to pinch the smaller suckers as the risk of tissue stripping emerges when they are bigger.

Continue doing so till the top of the plant and remove as many as you think is right. For the week that follows, you can repeat the pruning if you observe any suckers left out or new ones emerging.

Tips on pruning indeterminate tomatoes better

Here are some additional things to consider with how to prune indeterminate tomatoes:

  • Over-pruning must be prevented at all costs since the removal of extra foliage or fruit buds can affect the health of other fruits and plants by making them more prone to climatic damage.
  • The plant must be firmly established before you start pruning it. It usually takes four to five weeks on average for the indeterminate tomatoes to show some new newer or additional growth.
  • Don’t prune moist plants or when they are watered. Allow the plant to dry before you start like that can spread the diseases if any.
  • Be careful about not disturbing the no-prune parts of the plant. The plant may survive even if you do but chances are less.
  • Leaving some suckers on the plant top after two pruning sessions can be chosen as that provides shade to the growing fruits.
  • The growers in hot climates must take special care about not chopping off too much from the plant as the fruits will lay bare and become prone to sunburn.
  • One pruning session scheduled around one month before the beginning of frost can seal all your hard work and this involves topping the plant. This ensures that all actively growing fruits do well by securing the plant energy only as the new growths are cut off.

Guide to grow indeterminate tomato plants

We don’t want to leave you high on the pruning info and would also be telling you about the right method of growing indeterminate tomatoes so that they start better.

Basic requirements of the plant

  • Indeterminate tomatoes do well in the outdoor garden as they need space to grow and do well when grown as climbers but they can be grown in containers too.
  • The plant must receive full sunlight for an ample amount of time that is around a good 6-7 hours but it can do well in partial shade too.
  • You can use any loose soil mix for tomatoes that is well-draining and slightly acidic.
  • The climate must be warm enough for starting the plants and they prefer temperatures between 60-70 degrees F.

Method of propagating the plants

There are two ways to go about it:

With seeds- It involves the indoor starting of the seeds 6-8 weeks before the last date of spring frost. Keep them moist and warm till the young leaves emerge.

With starter plants- This is an easier method of growing indeterminate tomatoes as you can just insert the plant in your pot or garden bed as per the choice.

Method of transplanting

You should move out your plant younglings once the soil is warmed up and frost has passed. Dig a little cavity in the soil bed and insert the plant. Make sure to amend the soil beforehand with good nitrogen-rich fertilizer and keep the plants evenly spaced at approx. 3-4 feet gap.

Caring about the plants

  • Water the plants thoroughly to get one inch of water every week but prevent overwatering. Do not water much when fruits are ripening but waterless and frequently.
  • Side-dress the plants with nitrogen-rich fertilizers during the first two blooms.
  • Support the plant with DIY cages, trellis, stakes, or whatever suits your convenience to prevent the rotting of fruits at the bottom.
  • Protect the plants from frost at all costs and you must mulch them heavily for weed control and moisture retention.
  • Tomato plants get affected by issues like root rot, whiteflies, hornworm, flea beetles, aphids, cracking, and mosaic virus. Make sure to remove the dead parts immediately.


You must have realized that pruning indeterminate tomatoes is as important as every other part of the process if you want to have the best tomatoes on your plate by the end of the season and a plant healthy enough to reproduce in the following season. Just follow the tips rightly and we assure you will get very promising results.

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