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How to grow cordon tomatoes


Growing tomatoes as cordons is the technique of allowing one stem to grow by pinching off side-shoots as they appear. Learn how to raise your cordon crop, in our step-by-step guide.

How to do it


Plant young tomatoes into greenhouse borders or growing bags when 20-30cm tall. Heap up the soil around the stem, to encourage more roots to form.


Tie in the main stem to a robust cane, to keep it supported. Loop some soft string or twine in a figure of eight around the stem to create a buffer between the two. Don't tie too tightly as the stem will expand as it grows.


Check your plants daily, tying them in as they grow. Pinch out any new sideshoots to ensure all of the plant's energy goes into producing flowers and fruit. The sideshoots can be rooted in water and potted up to raise new plants. Remove the growing tip once four flower trusses have formed.


As temperatures rise, water your plants whenever you think they need it - daily or every other day, depending on the temperature. Tomatoes benefit from additional feeding; in particular potash (found in specialised tomato feeds) will keep the plants cropping well. Check the label of the tomato feed you buy to see how frequently you should use it.

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Talkback: How to grow cordon tomatoes
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Lilydotwin 16/05/2014 at 00:58

Has anyone grown the tomato variety Piccolo? Are they only for greenhouses? Can they be grown outside? I bought the seeds, imported from Italy, having tasted them in a supermarket and loved them. I now have four little plants ready to pot on. Would appreciate advice frome someone who has grown them.

pansyface 16/05/2014 at 05:51

Hello Lily. You don't say where you live, which makes it a bit difficult to say.

If you live in the south of England or in a city centre you will have more luck than if you live at the top of a hill in Scotland.

Where are you?

meerkat 19/05/2014 at 19:14

We couldn't find seeds to buy, so grew these last year from seed saved from shop-bought tomatoes. Fantastic crops, both in greenhouse and on the patio. Oh, and we live on the south coast. 

Nelliedot 17/06/2015 at 18:21

Help! Have grown cordon tomatoes successfully outside for several years. For reasons I won't go into (but Hubby is in trouble!) when being planted out their growing tips were pinched out before any trusses have formed. They have grown a little taller but no sign of flowers or new central stem. Will they produce fruit?