AeroGarden Customer Service & Support - AEROGARDEN TOMATOES AND PEPPERS - My tomatoes have grown up into the lights! What do I do?
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AeroGarden Customer Service & Support

My tomatoes have grown up into the lights! What do I do?

AeroGarden tomatoes must be pruned early and often in order for them to grow full and bushy, as well as to flower prolifically. If tomatoes are not pruned early enough in their growth, they will grow tall with lots of leaves and flowers at the top, but no growth on the lower stems.

Once this has happened it will take some patience to train your tomatoes to leaf out again at the base. Prune off about a third of the leaves (and flowers, if any are present) at the top of the plant, removing the newest, smallest leaves. This will stimulate the plant to branch out lower on the stem, and eventually to produce flowers and fruit throughout its height. You will need to continue to prune the top of the plant periodically until it fills out with even growth below. 

To encourage your tomatoes to sprout new growth lower down on their stems, you will need to prune off about the top third of the leaves and flowers, if any are present. It may seem counter-intuitive to prune off flowers or even tomatoes, but doing this forces the plant to branch out lower down on the stem, where it will later be able to produce many more flowers and fruit.

Here are before-and-after pictures of an overgrown Cherry Tomato Seed Kit. In the first photo you see the overgrown plant before being cleaned up and pruned. In the second photo, the right rear plant has been removed (it was dead), and the other two plants: 

  • tied upright (using Soft Ties) to the light post to take better advantage of the light
  • pruned about a third of their uppermost leaves
  • removed all dead and browning branches


Into the lights BEFORE               after


As your tomatoes begin to send new shoots out at the top, prune them off again. When pruning the tops, look for the newest, smallest leaves, and make sure you remove these. The growing tip is not the actual highest part of the plant, but just a little below that, in the V where one stem branches off from another. The next photo shows the growing tip (in the V), with the pencil pointing to where the plant should be pruned.




Keep pruning the new growth off the top about every two weeks, making sure to remove the growing tip. After the plant determines that growing upward is not an option, it will send out new branches lower down on the stem. Keeping the tops pruned down also allows more light to reach the new leaves that will form at the base.

Keep training it this way until the plant has developed a more compact shape, and it will then begin to flower throughout its height. Here are two photos of the middle plant that was pruned above. The first was taken one week after pruning the top, and the second photo was taken three weeks after the pruning. Note how much new growth there is at the base of the plant.




                                        Three weeks after


Below is a photo of the same tomato plants shown in all the photos above, five weeks after being pruned and moved into an AeroGarden Extra Elite (Pro 200):


                                          More weeks



Below is the same AeroGarden, 14 weeks after the meristems were pruned (at approximately 30 weeks of age). It yielded 163 tomatoes off the two plants. These are our regular Golden Harvest Cherry Tomatoes (not the Mega Cherry):




To understand more about pruning and the botany of how it works, please read the article "Pruning for the Technically-Inclined." If you need further assistance, or if you have any other questions about your AeroGarden or Seed Kits, there are more articles available on this web site. You may also call AeroGrow Customer Service at 1-800-476-9669, and one of our agents will be happy to assist you. Happy AeroGardening!

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