Care Of Big Tomato Plants

It is important to remove suckers once you have established the main stems.

My tomatoes are constantly in need of tying to the pole, as they get taller and taller.

My first tomatoes will be ready in a few days. That is exciting, but in order to keep them producing as long as possible, I do a few simple things beside keeping them watered. In order to keep them flowering and producing more fruit, sucker removal is very important, especially when they are flowering or if fruit has set. I just break the tender shoots off the main stems. If you have forgotten to do this, and they are very large, use clippers and cut as close to the stem/leaf “V”as possible. I like to check mine every week so the new suckers do not have a chance to get too big.
Staking is so important to keep the plant’s stems from breaking because of the fruit weight or because they are so tall. I like to use this stretch type plant tape (I get mine at an Ace Hardware store). It stretches and I can cut it at any length needed to attach the stems to the pole. Since some of my plants are now 6 feet tall, I am adding taller stakes to the short ones I originally used.
With all the growth and fruit that should be occurring on your plants now, do not forget to fertilize every few weeks and work it into the soil around the plant. Be careful not to let the fertilizer touch the stem, as it might burn the plant. Water it in if it is dry and/or no rain is predicted.
When harvesting tomatoes, it is up to you. Some like to harvest them completely ripe, but I like to pick mine when the color is good and allow them to finish ripening on the window sill. There are two reasons for this; birds and squirrels tend to love my ripe ones, and on hot days I think really ripe one’s flavor is diminished when exposed to high summer temperatures. Of course this is my personal opinion. What do you think?
And finally, if you want fall tomatoes and can find the plants in the stores now, plant them.  There is a good chance you can have fall tomatoes until frost.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

5 thoughts on “Care Of Big Tomato Plants

  1. Hi John!
    Enjoyed reading your post. I find that a a half-way pruning method works better for me. When I prune heavy and down to the main stem , I don’t have as many tomatoes. Plus I have had problems with sun scald when I prune heavy as well.

  2. Thanks for the info! My plants are thriving but young. Looking forward to a nice bounty. Now I’m off to cut suckers off!


  3. Last year Nancy picked all our green tomatoes (15-20) off the vine the day before the first hard frost. We put them in the window and had amazingly good tomatoes for another three weeks.

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