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Pruning your indoor tomato plants

by Mireille Bourgeois

I knew time would come when my indoor tomato plants, which I planted in FEBRUARY, would grow too tall for their root system and get dangerously close to tipping over. If they were outside, I would just put a cage around them and encourage them to grow up. Since I’ve got about 3 months to go until I can plant them outside, what I want to do while they’re in their protected environment, is strengthen the root system. The stronger your tomatoes’ root system is, the more resilient to disease they will be and the more concentrated they will be on creating blossoms which turn into the beautiful fruit we love so much.




I’ve never grown my own tomato plants from seed before this year so I’m learning as I go. I looked up my old friend Praxxus on youtube (recommended to me by my brother the landscaper). I really love his youtube channel, he is so grounded and demystifies the whole gardening thing for regular folks like me. I highly recommend you check out his growing techniques for peppers and tomatoes, and his composting info is brilliant and accessible. He’s also the one that eased my fear about buying my first grow lights.



SO, in this video he showed us how to prune tomatoes and peppers. Praxxus says to count 4 branches from the bottom of your plant (I don’t count the two little leaves at the bottom as they often fall off on their own and don’t become full branches in my experience), and then cut above it. Apparently this will stimulate new branches to grow from the stem, and your plant will be fuller and stronger by the time you plant them outdoors!

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It’s important to wait until the stem is thick enough (Praxxus says the width of a pencil) to cut, otherwise, your plant still has some growing to do and you may halt its progress.Your plants will look a little sad with less leaves at first, but soon, they will grow thicker, strong, and greener. I’ll post updates so that you can see the progress. Check back once in a while!

PS: Yep! That IS about 15cm of snow outside. I am indeed snowed in for a couple of hours. Morning snow day!



UPDATE: only four days later, and some little suckers are starting to grow! This is just what I want to build a bushier plant while it’s indoors. Each of the suckers will turn into branches with flowers and tomatoes on them.

Here you see all three plants under my grow lights.

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5 thoughts on “Pruning your indoor tomato plants

  1. Hi Mireille! Just what I was looking for! I just planted my seeds (February), though my outdoor garden won’t be warm enough till June! So needed this info. But I’m curious about the suckers being allowed to grow. Up till now I was told to prune those back (albeit under normal outdoor growing conditions)… So when chopping off the tops, you *do* allow the suckers to grow freely?

    Posted by Sharona | February 13, 2016, 5:01 am
    • Hi there,

      Yes I do let the suckers grow, and then I prune according to proper shape and to ensure there will be good balance once it’s fully grown 🙂 The goal is to get a nice bushy plant that’s healthy and well shaped by the time you bring it outside

      Good luck!

      Posted by Mireille Bourgeois | February 14, 2016, 12:12 am
  2. Hi. My plants are tall but thick stemmed. I would like to prune. seems you take a pretty good amount off. does it matter if its a determinate or indeterminate plant? Are you stressing the plant? My plants are healthy with grow light and fertilizer. I dont have alot of room for trench planting. how are your plants doing? Im just afraid i might kill them. thanks.

    Posted by Bob | April 5, 2016, 10:57 pm
    • Hi there, what kind of plants are they, that makes a difference. For peppers and tomatoes I’ve had no trouble trimming a determinate branch, but keep in mind it makes for a busshier plant. I do like that though and it gives more fruit/veggies to do that once new branches grow. I only prune the determinate branch once however and then prune the other branches as I grow them. Once they are outside I leave them to do whatever they want however.

      Posted by Mireille Bourgeois | April 9, 2016, 10:01 am


  1. Pingback: Transplanting Tomato Cuttings | hobbyjunkies - April 21, 2013

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