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Are You Getting Suckered Out of Tomatoes?

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Not sure why or how to prune tomato suckers?

  • Many don’t know about tomato suckers.
  • And, often new gardeners don’t understand how, when, where and why to prune out vigorous tomato growth.
  • Plus, many aren’t sure if every tomato really needs to be pruned.
  • But, in many cases, pruning out tomato suckers will result in healthier plants.
  • And that means you’ll probably enjoy a better tomato fruit harvest too.
Tomato Sucker Example 2

Clip out Suckers at the point where they emerge from the base of a leaf on the main stem

So, do you have the kind of tomato that should be pruned?

  • Not every tomato needs to be pruned.
  • That’s because some don’t form a lot of suckers.
  • Basically, if you’re growing an indeterminate, pruning is a good idea.
  • But, if you’re cultivating determinants, you likely don’t want to prune.
  • As well, to make things even more confusing, some tomatoes fall between those categories.
  • These are called semi-determinant.
  • And, if you need help choosing which tomatoes to grow, check out list of some of our favorites.

What are tomato suckers anyway?

  • The suckers on plants are vegetative shoots.
  • And, too many of these may put a strain on a plant’s limited resources.
  • Plus, the plant produces a bunch of green growth.
  • And, as well, it may have less ripe fruit in response.
  • Moreover, when a plant is dense with green growth, it may have minimal airflow.
  • And, light may not get into the interior of the plant.
  • So, that may result in disease problems on top of ¬†smaller crops.
Tomato Sucker Example 1

The tomato stem on the left is a sucker. And, about 2″ above it is a flower stalk.

Where do suckers grow on tomatoes?

Briefly explained: suckers are the new shoots that emerge out of a tiny bud near the base of a leaf.

  • And it happens right where the leaf base connects to the main stem.
  • But, its important to be sure that the shoot isn’t a flower shoot.
  • That’s because these are where the fruits form.
  • And, its important not to remove the main, tip shoot on the plant if you want it to keep growing upward.
  • The images in this post illustrate where to prune out tomato suckers.

But, if you need more help with pruning tomatoes or other plants, join our online gardening Academy for detailed lessons in food gardening for beginners.

2 comments on “Are You Getting Suckered Out of Tomatoes?

  1. Robin on

    Ok, but wouldn’t it also be good to prune flowers early season to promote growth and get a larger later season harvest?

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