Are Tomato Suckers Really Bad? How to Deal & Benefit from Them?

Our experienced writers spend hours deep researching, considering both scientific and experimental info to bring the insights you can trust.  

Quick Answer: How to Deal with Tomato Suckers

There are essentially two ways of dealing with tomato suckers, that is, to either remove them or prune them. The choice of the approach that you decide to take depends on the type of tomato plant you are growing and what your needs are. To help you identify this, here is a guide on how you can deal with tomato suckers.

To deal with something, one has to know what that is.

The same is the case with tomato suckers.

Since the way to deal with tomato suckers varies from situation to situation, it is important that you are first able to identify what a tomato sucker is.

Tomato Suckers: What Are They?

Tomato suckers are essentially mini shoots that grow between the main stem or the axil and the branch. If tomato suckers are left to fend on their own, these tiny shoots will eventually turn into branches that can actually grow both tomatoes and leaves.

While this could sound quite appealing, the overall result is that of a tomato plant that is incredibly bushy.

Here is a video that will help you in identifying tomato suckers in your tomato plant:

Why Are Bushy Tomato Plants A Bad Thing?

So, why is a tomato plant that is incredibly bushy known to be a negative thing? Well, this is because of the fact that not only are these types of tomato plants, that is, with unkempt tomato suckers, incredibly hard to manage, but they are also known to lead to the spread of a variety of diseases.

Also, since tomato suckers can grow leaves as well, the increase in leaf density could lead to the stifling of the airflow that is able to reach the tomatoes.

This establishes the fact that it is vital for you to deal with tomato suckers.

Should Tomato Suckers Be Removed Completely?

The question now arises if it is necessary to remove tomato suckers completely; after all, they are a natural element of the tomato plant itself and can grow tomatoes as well. The answer to this question depends on you and your situation itself; there are both pros and cons to removing tomato suckers.

1. Pruning

Instead of completely removing tomato suckers, pruning might be a better option for increasing airflow and moisture.

This increase in both airflow and moisture helps in reducing the risk of diseases.

That is not all; by pruning the leaves that grow on the tomato suckers, you will be able to reduce insects’ ability to nest in the tomato plant.

2. Fruit Production

Due to the fact that tomato suckers can grow fruit and leaves, by keeping the tomato suckers, you will be able to end up with a larger quantity of fruits.

However, this means that the tomato suckers and the generic branches of the tomato plant will then be competing for nutrients.

This means that if you were to remove the tomato suckers, you would be removing this competition, which would lead to tomato production that is larger and much more healthy.

So, on the one hand, by keeping them, you will get more tomatoes; on the other hand, you have tomatoes that are much bigger.

That is not all, but the decision to keep, remove, or prune, is made further complicated when you factor in your preferred type of tomato.

Dealing With Tomato Suckers On Different Types of Tomatoes

As you would already know, there are two types of tomatoes, that are, determinate tomatoes and indeterminate tomatoes.

1. Indeterminate Tomatoes

Indeterminate tomato plants can be identified from their tall appearance, which can go up to 15 feet. For this type of tomato, it is best that you remove the tomato suckers that grow on them.

This is because indeterminate tomato plants have the ability to produce fruit throughout their season.

So, you won’t have to worry about reducing the number of tomatoes by removing the tomato plant.

2. Determinate Tomatoes

Determinate tomato plants can be recognized with their bush-like outward form. They are also known to produce the fruit all at once and only grow up to a height that is predetermined.

With determinate tomatoes, it is best to opt for pruning rather than removal as you could end up ruining the harvest of the tomatoes with the removal of the tomato suckers.

How to Remove Tomato Suckers

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the best way of dealing with tomato suckers, we can move on to showing you how to remove them.

When it comes to removing tomato suckers, if you aren’t a particularly patient person when it comes to gardening, you can quite simply remove the tomato suckers by removing them from underneath the first cluster.

If you don’t plan to remove all of the tomato suckers, you can simply remove a few of them and leave some of the tomato suckers remaining on the main stem.

The best way to understand how to go about the process is to see it in action using this video:

The timing of the removal of the tomato suckers is also something that you should take into account, where the best time is to remove them as soon as you spot one growing.

If you wait for the small shoots to grow about two inches, it is quite easy to spot and remove them. This is because the tomato sucker shoots tend to be much weaker and easier to remove at this initial stage of growth.

You won’t even require a tool; you can simply get the job done by using your fingers, where you grab onto the tomato sucker at the base of its shoot and then twist your wrist to snap it off completely.

This is much easier for smaller shoots. As for the tomato suckers that have grown to be big already, you will need pruning shears to break the shoot at its base without causing any damage to the rest of the tomato plant.

As for pruning, you can prune the tomato suckers throughout the production seasons. It is best to prune and remove the leaves that are browning and lower as this helps in avoiding the spread of diseases.

For the tomato suckers that have grown quite large and have produced leaves, it is best to remove them from the bottom of the cluster of fruit.

This helps you in avoiding any harm done to tomato development.

Propagation of Tomatoes From The Tomato Suckers

Now that you have removed the tomato suckers, the process of dealing with them still isn’t over yet. This is because you are still left with the shoots of the tomato suckers and must now figure out what to do with them. You might think composting is the best answer, but this is not so. To truly maximize the tomato suckers that you have just removed, you can use them to grow tomato plants.

This is, in fact, one of the greatest advantages of having tomato plants, as their roots can grow from the stem as well.

However, there are, of course, some requirements that the cuttings of the tomato suckers must fulfill in order to be replanted and provide more tomatoes.

Here is a detailed video that you can watch:

This shows the process of propagating tomato plants and replanting tomato suckers to clone your tomato plant.

Replanting The Tomato Suckers

For you to be able to replant the tomato suckers that you have removed, it is important first to ensure the length of the tomato sucker, which should not be more than six inches.

You also be sure to remove any and all leaves that are attached to the stem of the tomato sucker. Then, you can go ahead and root the stem in either soil or water.

If you choose to root it in water, you must ensure that only the bottom section of the tomato sucker is submerged.

You can then transfer the stem from the water to the soil once you see the proper formation of a root call.


What will happen if I leave a tomato sucker untouched?

If a tomato sucker remains untouched, it can grow much larger than the original branches of the tomato plant and cause an incredibly unkempt and bushy appearance of the plant. They will eventually grow tomatoes and leaves.

Which variant of tomato most needs the removal of tomato suckers?

It is known that it is best to remove tomato suckers if you are growing cordon tomatoes. This is because, by removing the tomato suckers, the original branches won’t have to compete for adequate nutrients and will, therefore, produce a better and healthier yield.

Is it a good idea to remove tomato suckers off of cherry tomato plants?

Cherry tomatoes are known to be determinate tomatoes, which do not require the removal of the tomato suckers. In fact, the tomato suckers could increase your yield of cherry tomatoes. However, it is important to keep the tomato suckers under control through the use of pruning.

Final Words

When it comes to dealing with tomato suckers, the two ways that you can approach it is to either completely remove the tomato suckers or keep them under control by pruning them. The best way to decide which is the best way is to identify your needs.

If your need is a higher yield of tomatoes, then pruning is the way to go.

However, if you prefer larger and much more healthy tomatoes, then removal of the tomato suckers is your best choice. Also, be sure to replant the tomato suckers that you remove.