How to Prune Overgrown Tomato Plants

Overgrown tomato plants can easily become a nuisance by becoming tangled and taking over the vegetable garden.

Tomato plants that are left to grow unchecked produced less fruit and lower quality fruit than plants that are pruned regularly.

In this article I’ll share my tips for dealing with overgrown tomato plants so you can have healthy plants and a bumper crop.

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overgrown tomato plant

Overgrown tomato plants usually produce a smaller yield and they’re more likely to be affected by pests and diseases, especially if the branches are lying on the ground.

If you leave tomatoes to grow without pruning them, they’ll spend a lot of energy on growing leaves and suckers, which means you won’t get as many tomatoes and the quality of the fruit won’t be as good.

If your tomato plants have been neglected and allowed to grow out of control you’ll need to give them a hard prune.

overgrown tomatoes


First you’ll need to untangle the branches and prune any that are lying on the ground.

Find the main stem and cut out all the other stems growing from it to encourage one strong stem.

Remove any dead, diseased or damaged branches.

Ongoing pruning for tomato plants

Getting into the habit of pruning tomatoes on a regular basis will give you the best yield.

Tomato plants are fast growing so you need to check the plants at least once a week and remove any suckers that develop.

To keep your tomato plants healthy you’ll need to trim off the dead leaves regularly and remove the suckers while they’re still small.

The suckers grow between the stem and the branch joint.

If you leave them to grow they will form another branch that will weigh the plant down and reduce the yield.

If the plant already has quite a few tomatoes forming you can pinch off the flowers which will allow the plant to focus its energy on growing the tomatoes that are already on the vine.

Once the plant reaches the top of the stake or support structure, about 5 feet (1.5 metres) tall, you can remove the new growth at the top of the plant.

tomato plant

How to support tomato plants

Training your tomato plants to grow up a wooden stake or tomato cage will help to support the vines and keep them up off the ground.

This will stop them from lying on the ground and provide air circulation, which will prevent diseases and pests like slugs and snails feeding on the unripe tomatoes.

If you’re growing your tomato plants in containers you can prop up the branches with a stake or a wire cage to support them.

Use an piece of old pantyhose to tie the branches to the support.


So there are my tips for controlling tomato plants that have become overgrown.

By pruning your tomato plants regularly you’ll have healthier plants, a better yield and lots of delicious tomatoes to enjoy.

Have you successfully pruned back an out of control tomato vine? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Vegetable Gardens and Gardening Tips that you may find interesting. You can also find me on Facebook.

pruning overgrown tomatoes

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

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