Should I cut dead leaves off my tomato plant? Well, the answer is YES, but that will generally depend on the variety of tomato plants you are growing.
First of all, the ultimate goal of growing tomato plants is to help the tomato plants produce as many healthy and succulent fruits as possible.
Coming back to the question above, your tomato plant could be determinate or indeterminate. The determinate tomatoes are also known as the bush varieties, while the indeterminate tomatoes are also known as the vine varieties.
So these two varieties of tomato plants determine whether you should cut dead leaves off your tomato plant or not, and at what stage do you embark on such activity.
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Two Varieties of Tomato Plants That Determine When to Cut Off Dead Tomato Leaves
Like I mentioned earlier, there are basically two varieties of tomato plants, the determinate and the indeterminate tomato plants. These two types of tomato plants determine whether you should cut off your dead tomato plant leaves, and when to do that.
Let us get into knowing more about these two tomato varieties and the differences between them.
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Determinate Tomato Plants
Determinate tomato plants are also known as bush tomato plants. They grow to a fixed height of 3 – 4 feet and stop growing, and then mature within a short period of about two weeks.
Immediately the first set of fruits ripen, the tomato plant begins to reduce in vigor and will no longer set any new fruits.
A peculiar trait of the determinate tomato plants is that their fruits ripen at once, and as a result, they are very useful for canning purposes. Determinate tomatoes are ideal for small space gardening since they are on the short side of growth. They are also ideal for potting.
Determinate tomato plants require staking or caging because they put up a lot of weight on the branch with little height above the ground. Therefore, staking helps the tomato plant.
Indeterminate Tomato Plants
Indeterminate tomato plants are also known vining tomatoes. Unlike the determinate tomato plants, these indeterminate tomatoes grow in height throughout its growing season.
Indeterminate tomato plants continue to set and have their fruits ripened throughout the entire growing season until the plant gets killed by frost.
The indeterminate tomato plants give a steady but slow supply of ripe tomatoes throughout their seasons, instead of a single large harvest that determinate tomatoes give.
Another difference between determinate and indeterminate is that indeterminate tomato plants ripen later than determinate tomatoes because they (indeterminate) spend an ample amount of time growing tall.
The indeterminate tomato plants also require staking or caging because they grow so tall above the ground level and become heavy. So, a good support system would be necessary for them.
Read Also: When to Cut Back Plant for Winter
Should I Cut Dead Leaves Off my Tomato Plant?
Yes, you should! Considering the first type of tomato plant, the determinate tomato plant, they usually produce a certain number of fruits regardless of when the plant was pruned.
If you are growing a determinate variety of tomato plants, you would need to cut the dead leaves below the first set of flowers off your tomato plant.
For the proper location, these dead leaves are usually below the first level of suckers that grow from the area where a branch joins with the main stem. As long as these leaves are below the first flower clusters, it would be best if you cut them off.
These dead leaves are usually yellow and hinder the formation of healthier leaves that are vital to the growth of the tomato plant.
If you are growing the indeterminate tomato plants, you should start cutting dead or yellow leaves off the tomato plants when the foliage below the first set of flowers of the tomato plant begins to turn yellow. These foliages usually turn yellow when the tomato plants get to about 12 to 18 inches in height.
Besides these yellow or dead leaves, you should also cut off suckers that grow in the bend where a branch meets the tomato plant's primary stem that usually grows under the first flower cluster.
The answer to your question, should I cut dead leaves off my tomato plant is yes. You should cut off these dead leaves because they do no good to the tomato plant, whether it is the determinate or indeterminate type of tomato plants.
The only difference between the determinate and indeterminate tomato plant regarding when you should cut off dead leaves of the tomato plants is that with indetermination, you have to wait until the plant has grown up to 18 inches tall.
Meanwhile, you cut off the dead leaves with a determinate tomato plant once you see them appear below the first cluster of flowers.
Finally, remember to always protect your tomato plants from bugs as that may hinder its growth.