What to Do with Tomato Suckers


🍅 What to do with tomato suckers has always been a hotly debated topic…

Tomato suckers are secondary fruit-bearing branches that emerge between the tomato’s main stem and its leaves, often referred to as “side shoots” because they grow from the side of the plant stem.

They can be easily distinguished from the main stem because they have thinner stems and smaller, willowy leaves.

There are two schools of thought about what to do with tomato suckers, and research supports each viewpoint.

🍅 Thought #1:  Tomato Suckers Reduce Tomato Production

This take on tomato suckers sees them as an energy drain to the plant resulting in reduced yields and smaller fruit sizes.

Pruning out suckers is most beneficial for indeterminate tomato plants.

🍅 Thought #2:  Suckers Can Increase Tomato Production

The main idea with this thought is tomato sucker growth will improve tomato production, and thus, leave them to grow freely.

Leaving suckers to grow is most advantageous for determinate tomato plants.

Ask These 2 Questions to Determine if a Sucker Should be Pruned Out:

1. Is the tomato plant producing fruit or is it stuck in a pattern of green leafy growth?

If all you see is impressive bushy growth but no fruit, this is when it would be beneficial to take some of those suckers out.

2. Is there enough time in the season for all the tomatoes to ripen?

Depending on the variety, tomatoes need anywhere from 40-70 days to mature.

Take out any new tomato flowers if there isn’t enough time in the growing season for the new tomatoes to develop and ripen.

The final choice for dealing with tomato suckers is ultimately up to the individual gardener, you may want to try both methods to see which works best in your garden!

🍅 Check out my related blog, Determinate vs Indeterminate Tomatoes:  A Guide to Pruning, to dig deeper into this!

©Sharon Wallish Murphy ©Gardening with Sharon

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