How do you prune tomato suckers?


Quick Answer

To prune tomato suckers, identify the suckers that are harmful to your tomato plants, determine which ones should be removed, and pinch off small suckers as you find them. For larger suckers that you missed earlier, cut the suckers off with sharp pruning shears. Check in on your plants to make sure no more suckers have appeared.

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Full Answer

  1. Recognize harmful suckers

    Realize that not all tomato suckers are harmful to your tomato harvest or plants. Analyze the variety of your tomato plants, and identify when they bear fruit. If they are determinate plants that fruit all at once and only once, pruning does no good for the plant. If the tomato plants bear fruit continuously through the growing season, removing some suckers helps the plant grow. Understand that pruning all the tomato suckers might decrease your harvest.

  2. Decide which suckers need to be removed

    Once you decide to prune back most of the tomato suckers, identify those to be removed. Leave a few well-placed suckers, if desired, to help increase your harvest without damaging the plant's growth.

  3. Remove the tomato suckers

    For any suckers thicker than a pencil, clip them off the main plant with sharp pruning shears. Avoid tearing the main plant. Take care not to damage the main stem during this process. For small suckers that are not yet as thick as a pencil, either pinch the stem off between your fingers or clip them with the pruning sheers.

  4. Check the plants frequently for regrowth

    Look at your tomato plants frequently, because suckers grow throughout the season. Remove the suckers according to your growing plan for each plant.

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