The Tomato plants that we have grown from seed or purchased as plants are now growing fast. A question often asked by new gardeners is ‘Do I remove the side shoots from my tomato plant’? Well that depends, there are two basic types of tomato.
The first are called ‘Determinate’ or Bush types. These include varieties like ‘Tumbler’, ‘Totem’, ‘Minibelle’, ‘Garden Pearl’ and cascade varieties. You DO NOT remove the side shoots. These tomato plants know what they are doing, hence the name Determinate. They will grow outwards forming a mound or stay small and bushy, or cascade down. These determinate or bush types are great to grow in pots, tubs or even hanging baskets.
The second type are called ‘Indeterminate’ commonly called Cordon or Vine tomatoes. This group include varieties like ‘Moneymaker’, ‘Alicante‘, ‘Sungold‘, ‘Gardeners Delight‘ and ‘Black Krim‘ This group contains the largest number of varieties that most people grow in greenhouses and you DO remove the side shoots from these plants. The name indeterminate, describes this group of tomatoes very well. Their growth needs to be controlled and trained by us. The side shoots that grow out from the axis of the stem and leaf, need to be pinched off. These plants will grow tall and need to be tied to canes or strings that are well secured in the greenhouse or tunnel. This training is done to leave one stem which will carry the leaves and the fruit trusses, and divert all the plants energy into the developing fruits instead of excess growth. Depending on the height of your growhouse, the tomatoes are usually ‘stopped’ after about 7 trusses have set. This ‘stopping’ simply means cutting off the top growing point, after the maximum height has been achieved. I like to go over my cordon tomato plants once a week to remove unwanted growth.
Most seed packets and plant labels will tell you if it is ‘Determinate’ Dont remove side shoots or ‘Indeterminate’ Do remove side shoots.
If still in doubt, do ask seller or check on this site or the seedparade forum for help.