Accidentally Cut Off the Top of My Tomato Plant | 4 Steps to Save it

If you accidentally cut off the top of your tomato plant, it will still grow. If only the top 5-6 inches are removed it will recover quickly, growing new stems, flowers and fruit. If more than 50% of the stems is removed, it will take longer to recover and can take a long time to produce flowers.

It is important to cut the stem back above a healthy growth node. This will be just above a leaf. This will allow the plant to grow new stems near where the stem joins to the stem.

If you want to keep the tomato plant shorter then you can keep removing the top stem. Allow the lower stems to keep growing and the plant will grow and become bushier.

This will allow you to grow more tomatoes in a small space.

What happens if you cut the top of a tomato plant

If you accidentally cut the top off your tomato plant then here is what you can expect.

1. The tomato plant will still grow

If you cut the top of your tomato plant off the plant can still grow. People actually do this on purpose, its called ‘topping’ to stop the tomato from growing taller.

This can be a great way to grow tall tomatoes in smaller spaces. This will encourage the plant to branch out and grow more flowers and fruit up the stem.

I regularly trim the top off my tomato plants. This means that I can keep my plants to around 5-6 feet tall and grow a range of large varieties in my small, raised garden beds.

Tomatoes will recover quickly in spring and early summer if their top stems are trimmed.

2. It can take longer to grow tomatoes

If you cut off more than 50% of the tomato stem accidentally it can set the plant back and it can take a lot longer to grow fruit.

I accidentally broke off my tomato plant halfway down. It did eventually grow long stems back but it tool a long time to fruit. It only started to fruit and flower by the end of the season and it then

It depends on the type of tomato plant as to how quickly it recovers. Cherry tomato plants tend to grow back rapidly while long, vining tomatoes like Grosse Lisse can take longer to recover.

My tomatoes are developing now at the start of summer.

3. New stems will grow from the cut point

If you cut the tomato plant above a growth node, new stems can grow back within the next week. If you cut closely to where the leaf joins the stem you can expect a new stem to grow fast from above this point.

I like to leave a few millimeters of stem above the cut. This will make sure there is enough space and leaf tissue to grow new stems.

This new stem is growing from the cut point 1 week after I trimmed this tomato plant.

4. There is a chance that disease can enter

Any cut point on a tomato plant either on the leaf or stem is a point that diseases can enter the plant.  It is important that any cut on a tomato plant is done with clean, secateurs. This will stop diseases from coming from other plants or from the soil.

If the plant is accidentally cut when you are pruning other plants nearby it is important to come back and make a clean cut. Cut it above the point where the leaf joins to the stem. Cut the stem on an angle so any rainwater runs off.

Will a tomato plant grow back if the top is cut off?

Tomato plants will grow back if the top is cut off. Most tomato plants will send out new stems within a week if the weather is warm. Cutting the top off the tomato plant in spring or early summer will give you new stems quickly.

If more than ¾ of the plant is left in the ground, then the plant will grow back and it can continue to produce new flowers and fruit.

I like to regularly prune tomatoes to avoid fungal growth on their leaves.

Benefits of cutting the top off the tomato plant

Check out the top benefits of cutting the top off your tomato plant. Even if you have done this accidentally then you can look forward to good things happening.

Stops tomato plants from growing too tall

Cutting the top stems off tomato plants is a great way to stop the plant from growing too tall. If you have a small space or a small stake, then it can be important to control their height.

Tomato plants grow tall fast and can get heavy at the top. If they grow above the height of your stake then they can quickly bend, break and fall over.

Cutting the top off the tomato plant is an easy way to stop it from going too tall.

For more on this, check out this article about how to stop a tomato plant from going too tall: Why Tomato Plants Grow Tall | Top 5 Reasons and How to Stop Them

Tomato plants will sprout new stems from cut points.

Cutting the top off will encourage the tomato to branch

Cutting the top 5 inches of tomato plant or removing the top 2 sets of leaves will encourage the plant to branch. Once the tomato reaches ¾ of the heigh that you want it to grow you can remove the tops to encourage more branching.

You can also allow the plant to reach the top of your stake and then cut the top of the stems off. This will keep the tomato at the height you want it to with small branches at the top.

How to cut the top off the tomato plant

Check out these easy steps to remove the top of the tomato plant without causing damage and to encourage healthy growth.

1. Use clean, sharp secateurs

If you are cutting tomato plants, then aim to use sharp, clean secateurs. Clean your secateurs with methylated sprits to avoid spreading disease from other plants that you have trimmed to your tomato.

2. Cut the stem just above a growth node

Make sure you cut the tomato stem a few millimeters above a growth node or where the tomato leaf joins the stem. This will be the point where the new stems can grow from.

3. Cut on an angle

Cut the tomato stem off at a slight angle. This can be close to 45 degrees but just enough so that the water can run off if it lands on the stem. This will avoid fungal growth on the top of the stem.

4. You can remove extra stems

After a week or maybe more you will notice that the tomato plant will grow new stems from just above the point that you cut. You can allow these stems to grow and they will grow new flowers and fruit.

You can also continue to remove these stems. You can pinch off these stems when they are small to cut them off if they grow bigger.

Accidentally Cut Off the Top of My Tomato Plant | Summary

Tomato plants can recover if you accidentally cut the top off them. If you cut above a growth node then the tomato will grow new stems that can grow new flowers and eventually set fruit. Cutting the top off your tomato plant is a great way to keep them at the heigh that you want and grow more fruit.

Happy growing