The Q&A Archives: Suckers on Tomato Plants

Question: What are suckers on a tomato plant? I hear about them, but i'm not sure what to look for. Is it important to cut the suckers off or can they be left alone?

Answer: Removing the suckers, called suckering, encourages earlier, larger tomatoes, and it keeps the number of fruits low in relation to foliage, which improves the flavor of the fruits. Suckering is the process of removing the side shoots that grow from the node where a leaf attaches to the tomato vine. There are many different techniques. One method is to allow three suckers to develop into strong stems. Then keep pinching new suckers that form to encourage the plant to put its energy into fruit production. I just leave my tomato plants alone and even though I do not remove the suckers they produce lots of tomatoes. The choice is yours.

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