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Can Tomato and Watermelon Vines Be Pruned?

By: Jessie Keith

“I have a small plot and planted two tomato plants and several watermelon plants. As they grow I’m realizing my plot is quickly running out of space. Can tomato plants be trimmed back? Will watermelon plants take over my yard? How do I trim them back or space them out wide enough?” Question from George of Hagerstown, Maryland

Answer: Both plants can be pruned (please watch the video below about how to prune cherry tomatoes). Both indeterminate (vining) tomatoes and long-vined watermelons will completely take over a garden space in no time. Here are some solutions for managing these gregarious plants this summer and in the future.

Space-Saving Solutions for Tomatoes

  1. Choose determinate, or bush tomatoes. They stay small. The only downside is that they do not produce fruit for as long as indeterminate (vining) tomatoes. If you want more fruit, you have other options.
  2. Cage indeterminate tomatoes with tall, strong, robust cages. I recommend Titan tomato cages or any of comparable size and quality. This way, the vines will grow upright and be easier to prune.
  3. Prune indeterminate tomatoes. Please watch the video below to learn how.

Space-Saving Solutions for Watermelon

  1. Choose short-vine watermelons, such as ‘Cal Sweet Bush‘, a 2019 AAS award winner that has excellent melons and vines that do not take over.
  2. Train melons on a trellis. Small-fruited types, like ‘Little Baby Flower‘, a personal favorite, are the best for trellising.
  3. Trim back select watermelon vine branches that have outgrown their area. Keep in mind, some will need to reach a long length to properly fruit.

Watch the video below for more watermelon-growing tips.

I hope that these tips help! You may also consider enlarging your vegetable garden. Please click on this link to learn how to start a thriving vegetable garden from the start.

Happy gardening!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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