Tomatoes are one of the favourite plants to grow for gardeners right across the UK. You can grow small cherry tomatoes, vine tomatoes, plum tomatoes or even huge beefsteak tomatoes to suit your tastes. But do you know about tomato plant trusses?
Of course, tomatoes are ideal for frying, making into a delicious pasta sauce or even chopped into a salad. So, it’s imperative to know how to grow them properly, whether you’re using a greenhouse, polytunnel covers, or planting straight in the soil outside.
Tomatoes are not as easy to grow as you might think, and this all comes down to the trusses on the plant which bear the fruit. Read on to understand just how important it is to get to grips with tomato plant trusses for the very best yields.
What Are Tomato Plant Trusses?
When trying to identify tomato plant trusses, they are the smaller stems which shoot off from the main central stem. From these trusses, smaller shoots develop, and this is where flowers bloom. Eventually, these flowers will transform into tomatoes. A single truss can create several small fruits, as with the vine tomato, or a handful of larger fruits, depending on your chosen variety.
Secondary shoots can grow out of the ‘elbow’ of where the truss extends from the main plant stem, which only produces leaves. Learning how to prune your plants properly and knowing a truss from a secondary shoot will result in a bumper crop of tomatoes.
How Many Trusses On A Tomato Plant?
You might have a small number of tomato plant trusses if you are growing your plants outside, possibly only four. However, when you grow them in ideal conditions inside a polytunnel cover or greenhouse, you can expect anywhere from six to twelve trusses.
Of course, it all depends on the plant variety, as some grow tall and stretch up, while others tend to form into a bush shape where it can be harder to identify how many trusses on a tomato plant there actually are.
When Do Tomato Plant Trusses Appear?
If you have bought your plants from a garden centre, they may already have small trusses growing, but if you have grown from seed, then you should start noticing trusses forming once the plant reaches around 50 days old.
Before this time, the plant can grow as normal with side shoots, but when you want to start taming your tomato plant to fruit, you need to pay careful attention to when the trusses are forming, and the last trusses may not appear until as late as July.
How To Support Tomato Plant Trusses
Tomato plants can grow at a quick pace, and as such, they need guidance in the form of supports. A small bush style might not need any support for the trusses as they are so small. However, larger varieties that like to sprawl will need your help.
You can simply place a bamboo cane in the soil near the main plant stem and then tie that at intervals of 8-10 inches up the plant with either some gardening string or plastic twist ties. Another method would be to grow your tomato plants up a trellis, paying attention every few days to gently guide the plant through the holes so it can take hold.
If you are growing in a polytunnel, then minimal support is needed, and you can even hand strings from the roof to hold them up. Outdoor plants subject to wind and rain will need something sturdier.
How To Help Trusses To Set
Growing and securing the plants is one thing, but it’s quite another to know how to help them set – to produce fruit. Tomato plants will put out flowers to be pollinated; however, if they don’t pollinate for whatever reason, the flower just drops off, and that will not produce a tomato.
You can begin by taking a small cotton swab when you see flowers open on the vine and gently move it inside and twirl before moving to the next flower.
Also, if there is too much heat, it can cause tomato plant trusses not to set properly. Anything over 30 degrees Celsius may cause the pollen not to function properly. In addition, as soon as you see those yellow flowers on the trusses, begin feeding with nutrients like potash and potassium to help them set.
Should I remove tomato trusses?
Whether or not to remove tomato trusses depends on your specific gardening goals. Tomato trusses are the stems that support the tomato plant’s fruit clusters. Some gardeners choose to remove trusses in order to direct more nutrients to fewer fruits, resulting in larger and more flavourful tomatoes. Other gardeners prefer to leave the trusses in place in order to harvest more fruit overall, even if the individual tomatoes are smaller. So, it really depends on what you’re looking to achieve.
How To Remove Tomato Trusses
If you do decide to remove tomato trusses, you must do so properly. Tomato plants are delicate, and doing too much at once will be detrimental for the plant. Here’s how to remove tomato plant trusses properly:
- Wait until the tomato plant has produced at least two or three trusses with fruit. Removing trusses too early in the season can reduce overall yield.
- Identify the truss you want to remove. It’s easiest to remove the truss closest to the ground first.
- Locate the stem that supports the truss. The stem will be thicker than the other stems on the plant and will have multiple fruit clusters attached to it.
- Using a clean, sharp pair of pruners, cut the stem just above the top fruit cluster of the truss. Make sure not to damage any other stems or fruit clusters.
- If desired, repeat the process with other trusses.
However, it’s important to note that removing trusses can be stressful for the tomato plant and may reduce its overall productivity. If you do decide to remove trusses, be sure to do so gradually and monitor the plant closely for any signs of stress or nutrient deficiencies.
Handling Tomato Plant Trusses
Tomatoes are a wonderful fruit with a variety of uses, but growing them effectively requires a little tact and know-how. However, as long as you are able to identify how many trusses are on your tomato plant and if those tomato plant trusses will actually set with the fruit or not, you’ll be growing thriving tomatoes in no time!
What is the difference between truss tomatoes and regular tomatoes?
“Truss tomatoes” and “regular tomatoes” are not two distinct categories of tomato, but rather two ways of growing tomatoes. Truss tomatoes refer to the practice of supporting the tomato plant with trusses (or stakes) to keep it upright as it grows. This can result in healthier plants and higher yields. On the other hand, regular tomatoes are simply tomatoes grown without trusses. Often, this results in lower yields and potentially weaker plants if the fruit becomes too heavy for the plant to support.
What is a truss plant?
A truss plant is simply a tomato plant that has been supported by a truss or stake as it grows, in order to keep it upright and healthy. The truss or stake can be made of wood, metal, or any other sturdy material, and is usually inserted into the ground alongside the tomato plant.
How to identify tomato side shoots
Tomato side shoots are also known as “suckers,” and they are the small shoots that grow between the main stem and the branches of the tomato plant. If left unchecked, these side shoots can grow into full branches, which can reduce the plant’s overall productivity. To identify tomato side shoots, look for small, leafy shoots that are growing out of the joint between the main stem and a branch. To remove them, simply pinch them off with your fingers or a pair of pruners.
- SF Gate. (n.d.). What Are Trusses on Tomato Plants? Retrieved from https://homeguides.sfgate.com/trusses-tomato-plants-42139.html
- Sunday Gardener. (2016, August 6). Stopping Off Tomato Plants. Retrieved from https://www.sundaygardener.co.uk/stopping-off-tomato-plants.html
- Patient Gardener. (2019, August 11). How many tomato trusses per plant? Retrieved from https://patientgardener.co.uk/how-many-tomato-trusses-per-plant/
- Tomato Growing. (n.d.). Tomato Trusses Growing Tips. Retrieved from https://www.tomatogrowing.co.uk/newsletter/tomato-trusses-growing-tips/
- GrowVeg. (n.d.). Top 3 Reasons Why Your Tomatoes Are Not Setting Fruit. Retrieved from https://www.growveg.co.uk/guides/top-3-reasons-why-your-tomatoes-are-not-setting-fruit/
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK