How to Prune Tomatoes for Greater Yield

As mentioned in the previous post, indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow throughout the season. Trimming is necessary to increase your harvest, reduce disease stress and keep the plant within a manageable size. Because determinate varieties are bush type tomatoes reaching a maximum size of around 3 to 4 feet, trimming is not usually necessary.

This video by Johnny Seeds does a good job of identifying the parts of a tomato plant (first and second leaders, suckers and axle) and showing how to trim.

Choosing Tomatoes – Indeterminate vs Determinate


There a two types of tomato plants…indeterminate and determinate. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow throughout the season. For example, the above photo shows one of our towers containing a couple indeterminate black cherry tomato plants. They’re planted in two of the bottom net pots. After growing inside the cage to the height of the second rung, we trained them to drape over the rung and grow toward the ground. They will grow far beyond the space available, if left to their own devices.

On the other hand, determinates grow to around 3 feet tall and do not require much (if any) pruning or trimming.

This differentiation is particularly important if you’re tower gardening. How much room do you have? How would you trellis an indeterminate variety? Do you want to put in the time to trim and prune?

Although the black cherry tomatoes we’re currently harvesting taste incredible, we plan to switch to determinates starting this fall.