Topping Tomato Plants: The Benefits and How to Do It Correctly

Topping a tomato plant might seem drastic, or perhaps counterproductive.

I mean, cutting your seedlings’ and plants’ healthy growth back doesn’t seem like it would be a good idea.

However, tomatoes are fast growing and prolific plants; thus, you’ll be quite surprised with the regrowth that you’ll see after this process.

As a matter of fact, you’ll be much happier with the second round of growth, and the benefits it’ll bring!

What Is Tomato Topping, or Tomato Pruning?

Most people know about pruning tomato suckers, which is typically what people consider pruning.

However, topping is another form of pruning; instead of only cutting the suckers of a plant, you’re cutting off the top of your tomato seedlings. Pepper plants are more commonly pruned than tomato plants are, but tomato plants can benefit from this practice just as much.

It is also useful for speeding up the ripening process, when cold weather is coming within a few weeks.

Note: This only applies to indeterminate tomatoes, unless you are in fact trying to ripen fruit on determinate varieties toward the end of the season. If you prune determinate plants during the growing season, you could significantly reduce your harvest. Indeterminate plants flower and fruit all season long; determinate plants only flower and fruit in one wave- that’s it. If you cut and remove those fruiting branches, that’s a part of your harvest. Be sure that you’re buying and growing the right tomato seeds for your needs and uses.

Why Do People Practice Tomato Plant Topping?

Once an individual learns what tomato topping is and experiences the benefits, they have an entire list of reasons for continuing the process, including:

  • Plants grow back healthier
  • Leggy plants grow back thicker and sturdier
  • Young plants are able to withstand wind and rain better
  • Plants seem to flower more prolifically once they recover
  • Plants have a stronger foundation for fruiting, especially varieties that grow large fruits
  • For those who sell tomato plants, their plants look bushier, healthier, bigger, and more likely to thrive
  • For those with impending cold weather, topping branches helps the plant to ripen existing fruit a little faster (because the plant isn’t producing even more flowers and fruit)

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