Prune tomato plants by finding the suckers, or small shoots, that sprout between the main stems and the branches of the plants. If a sucker is less than 2 inches long, pinch it off with clean fingers. If it is longer than 2 inches, clip it with clean pruning shears.
- Identify the suckers
Inspect the tomato plant to find shoots growing out of the V-shaped notches between main and branch stems. These suckers produce lots of foliage but not a lot of fruit, and they are usually best removed. Check your plants during regular watering and weeding to reduce stress on the plants from doing extensive pruning all at once.
- Pinch the short suckers
Wash your hands, or put on clean gardening gloves to avoid transferring diseases between plants. Pinch short suckers between your finger and thumb, and gently break them off the plant. It is less stressful to the plant to remove suckers when they are small.
- Prune the longer suckers
With a clean pair of pruning shears, carefully clip suckers off near their bases. Clean your pruning shears regularly to avoid transferring diseases between plants. If some of your plants are diseased, disinfect your shears between cuts by dipping them in a solution of one-part bleach and three-parts water.