Tomato Plants: 4 Reasons To Top Your Tomato Plants And A How-To Guide

When it comes to the world of tomato growers, there are various debates that spring up. Whether that is regarding fertilizer, pruning or topping – there are always those who sit on one side of the argument against the other. 

Tomato Plants: 4 Reasons To Top Your Tomato Plants And A How-To Guide

However, it’s important that you top your tomato plants. This is because there are far more benefits than downsides, and anyone that swears by tomato plant topping will definitely agree with this.

But what exactly are these benefits? 

What are the reasons to top your tomato plants? Well, we’ve got you covered and we’ve answered all of your most important questions in this handy guide. 

Ready to learn more? Here’s the four most important reasons and how you should do it.

4 Reasons To Top Your Tomato Plants

Without any further delay, here’s the four most important reasons why you should top your tomato plants! 

1. Improves Fruit Production

If you’re someone that enjoys growing tomato plants, then of course will want as many tomatoes as possible, so any way that you can improve the production of fruit from your tomato plants is going to be something you will be interested in.

When it comes to the end of the season, your tomato plants will continue to grow right up until the frost starts rolling in. While you may still have blooms or greens at this time, their development will begin to dwindle. 

This is when it is imperative that you speed up the process of ripening. By topping your tomato plant, you can accelerate the ripening and therefore the fruit production of your tomato plants! 

2. Growth Improvement

If you begin topping your tomato plants at the very start of the season, you will be able to facilitate the branching and help to strengthen the central stems. These stems, once strengthened, are better placed to hold heavier fruits. 

Therefore, if you’ve noticed a stagnation with your plant’s growth towards the end of the season, topping can be an excellent way to improve their growth and enhance their longevity. 

3. Growth Control

Anyone that grows tomatoes will say that when it comes to the mid to late season, things can get a little tricky and a bit out of hand. Stems can often grow taller than your stakes and this can make them extremely vulnerable to the elements.

As a result, they become a liability to the rest of the plant. Topping the plants will sort this problem and make them far more resistant to weather damage.

4. Improved Flowering

If your plant is focused solely on upwards growth, it will not have enough energy to produce as many flowers in the lower part of the plant.

Topping can help to redirect the plant’s energy to the bottom, which overall provides you with more tomatoes. 

How To Top Your Tomato Plants 

Now, you will likely be wondering the best way to top your tomato plants(see also: Signs Of Frost Damage In Young Tomato Plants). Bizarrely, it’s not as difficult as making the decision to do so can be! 

You will need to get yourself a pair of gardening/pruning shears and ensure that they are sharp and clean before you proceed. Next, find the central stem on your tomato plant and make a clean cut above the leaf node.

This is the point where the stem outgrows the supports. This method will ensure that it grows again much stronger than before and from the original point.

If you are trimming at the end of the season, look for the area where you are getting the healthiest fruits and cut the stem above that point. Remember, you need to be careful not to cut too much which leads to overexposure from the sun.

Topping will need to be repeated, usually every two weeks. It’s a good idea to coincide this process with your watering schedule. Any trimmings should be kept and put into your compost heap. 

When To Top Your Tomato Plants 

Now we know how you can top your tomato plants, it’s now a good idea that we find out the best time to top the tomato plants.

Well, determinate tomatoes need only be pruned at the very end of the season prior to the weather and climate getting too cold.

Indeterminate tomatoes on the other hand can be topped throughout the season, as and when required. 

Drawbacks Of Topping Your Tomato Plants

Of course, nothing is without scrutiny – so let’s examine some of the reasons why you might not want to top your tomato plants. 

1. Stunted Growth

Topping a determinate tomato plant can stunt its growth because the central stem will have trouble growing beyond that point. This is why it is vital that you know what sort of plant you’re dealing with prior to topping. 

2. Time Consuming

Perhaps the biggest downside to topping your tomato plants is the fact that it can take some serious time and energy to do so.

If you’re someone who might describe themselves as a passive gardener, then you might find this step a little unnecessary. 

However, despite these two reasons listed above, it is always going to be far more beneficial for your tomato plants by topping them rather than leaving them alone. 

Final Thoughts 

Topping your tomato plants is very important, and as we have seen above, there’s plenty of reasons you should do it! Thank you for reading our guide. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

We’ll now look at some of your most frequently asked questions. We hope we answer all of them for you. 

Is Topping Difficult?

No, in fact it’s quite simple to do once you know exactly where you are cutting. 

Is Topping Worth It?

There are far more benefits to topping than downsides, as we have seen in this guide! So yes, it’s definitely worth it. 

Amelia Haslehurt
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