Topping massive tomato plants

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by vancanjay, Jul 4, 2007.

  1. vancanjay

    vancanjay Member

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    I know this may seem odd but...

    My tomato plants are growing like crazy in my green house. As of July 3, many of them are well past the 6 foot stakes they are tied to. I lost the top of one plant that was about 9 feet tall.

    Should I just top them? They are already quite bushy plants...

    I would use larger stakes but, the green house roof is only 9 feet high where these plants are being grown.
     
  2. Anne58

    Anne58 Active Member

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    I have read suggestions that tomatoes should (could) be topped once the plants have set 3 sets of flower trusses. This (I believe) ensures that all the fruits have a chance to mature before the end of the season so I don't see any problem with you keeping the height of your plants to a reasonable level :o)

    Anne
     
  3. vancanjay

    vancanjay Member

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    Anne, this sounds good in theory but my tomato plants are 8- 9 feet tall and all the flowers are from 6 - 9 feet. I can't reach the tops and they are breaking 3 feet over the tops of my tallest stakes...
     
  4. vancanjay

    vancanjay Member

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    I missed this in my reply a second ago....

    thanks for your reply ;)
     
  5. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    You could just let them start back to the ground-- I use baskets or wire cages that are about 6 ft tall== when they reach the top I just let them head for the ground-- sometmes when they reach the ground I just hang then back over the top of the cage--if I streched mine out now --some would be over 15 ft. My problem (posted in the previous thread) is the heat has stopped fruit from setting until fall.

    Skeet
     
  6. westcoastgarden

    westcoastgarden Active Member

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    I used to have this problem and solved it by only planting determinate tomatoes in my greenhouse. The indeterminate types are just too big.

    Sorry, that doesn't help you much this year.

    I know there is a specific way to prune tomatoes, but off the top of my head I am not sure.

    I also had some success laying plants down. I simply cut them back on one side and leaned them over in the greenhouse (all are in large plastic pails). They then send up side shoots. It was a move of desperation after the silly things hit the roof of the greenhouse and started growing down the other side - then the tops burned. It might be worth a try, if all else fails.

    As I said, I don't grow the large varieties in the greenhouse these days.

    WCG
     
  7. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I think topping them or laying the vines over would be OK. You could also remove the top and root it. Tomatoes are generally very forgiving of pruning. You can bury the stem deep and it will put out new roots along its lenght below the soil surface.

    You could try the method I saw used by a commercial greenhouse grower. Their vines were suspended so that the top of the plant always remained at an optimum height for maximum light. The lower (leafless) stem was loosely coiled at the base. The vines were over 8 metres long in some cases.
     
  8. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Interesting thoughts from everyone. I also have a dozen tomato plants in the greenhouse trying to escape thru the roof, and was pondering what to do.

    As Eric mentioned they could be kind of lowered as they grow, allowing a very "long" plant to stay at a reasonable height. The lower parts of the plant would be shaded a lot but the most active parts would be in the "good" zone for growth and harvest.

    Indeed, I've always found the vines lower themselves as the season progresses, thanks to the weight of fruit. I am using vine clips on plastic twine this year, but they still tend to slump down. Perhaps this will work out okay...there is still a foot or more above many plants before hitting my roof! I can't imagine succeeding with stakes, those would have to be pretty honking big stakes and the attachments would need to be quite solid as well.

    I would not grow (in the greenhouse) determinate varieties myself, tho this would solve the major problem of height. The varieties I want are the (indeterminate) heritage types that never do well outside, so I'm stuck with trying to fit them under the greenhouse roof somehow!

    At least this is infinitely better than the years trying to grow a tomato crop outside in this area of the world.

    Glen, also in South Surrey (British Columbia, not England)
     
  9. vancanjay

    vancanjay Member

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    Thanks for all your feedback - The only reason I am concerned about lowering the plants is I don't want to break the stocks. I've know these guys since hey were born.
     

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