Tomato Maintenance: Pinching Growth Tips




To pinch or not to pinch? That is the question.

Many believe that Shakespearian works were heavily influenced by the pinching conundrum yet it remains one important question to which he did not find a definitive answer, and so the debate still rages. What side of the fence you sit on seems to hinge on the philosophical question: is less ever more?

Proponents of more is more camp believe that by not pinching out growth you get more plant with more opportunities to form fruit. Surely only a fool would deny a plant to reach its full potential, so why pinch?

Pinching enthusiasts – like us – know that by pinching out the growth tips you form a plant that is stronger, fitter, better looking and better able to cope with fruit development. Perhaps you get less flowers and in theory, less fruit. However, we have found that the fruit that develops is a superior breed and more likely to reach maturity. 

Pruning tomato plants is an optional technique that some gardeners use to keep plants tidy, manipulate fruit size, and even speed ripening. There is one big catch: you should only prune indeterminate varieties, which produce new leaves, flowers and fruit continuously throughout the growing season. Determinate varieties, commonly known as "bush" tomatoes, will reach a set growth height (around 1.5 meters) and produce all of their fruit at one time.
So we suggest you to pinch…if you know what is good for you. Indeterminate plants that are allowed to run wild will waste energy on endless growth for the sake of growth, directing useful resources to branches that should be dedicated to fruit production. Furthermore, overgrown plants will be cluttered and have reduced airflow, making them more susceptible to pests and disease.

Tomato growth tip

Rather than going on a random pinching mission, focus your attention to the junction of the stem and branches. Here you will find new growth tips, often called "suckers." 

Pinching a growth tip

Pinch like a pro using your thumb and forefinger to remove growth tips. You can also use sharp scissors or secateurs, but it wouldn't be nearly as fun and we couldn't call it pinching anymore. 

This is an ongoing process and an essential part of tomato maintenance. Inspect your plant weekly for any new growth tips, or even during daily watering. Likewise, prune or pinch any low branches that are becoming yellow or brown. This will once again allow the plant to put energy into fruit production. We know that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be redirected.

Want to grow tomatoes? Check out our range of Heirloom Seeds.
Want to grow better tomatoes? Check out the specially developed Tomato Plant Food from Manutec
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