Tomatoes are one of the easiest things to grow in your organic garden. Plant, feed, water and eat!
Yet a few simple tricks will help you be more successful and produce a ton of fruit!
Today’s garden tip: What to do with tomato suckers?
First, let’s determine what tomato suckers are. Then, you can choose whether or not to keep them.
What Are Tomato Suckers?
Tomato suckers are small shoots, or leaves, that sprout out from where the stem and the branch of a tomato plant meet. Although relatively harmless to the plant, suckers don’t serve much of a purpose.
They can, however, draw energy away from the main stems, decreasing tomato growth.
How to Prune Tomato Suckers
- Keep a close eye on your tomato plants. Eliminate suckers while they are just a small ½” stem.
- Remove by simply snapping them off at the stem. If you need to use a tool, use a sharp pruner blade to make a clean cut.
- During peak growing season, pull unnecessary suckers and flowers at least once a week.
- Pruning is especially important if you are growing indeterminate tomatoes. This variety produces fruits all season long, as opposed to a single harvest. They require more attention and maintenance in order to encourage growth.
Pruning tomato suckers is one of the keys to a successful harvest.
To Prune or Not To Prune…
Some argue that tomato suckers are beneficial because more leaves can lead to more fruit.
This is true, however, less dense tomato plants may produce larger, juicier tomatoes. (Don’t forget, to also use Espoma’s organic Tomato-tone to promote growth of plump tomatoes.)
Removing tomato suckers can also decrease risk of disease caused by prolonged moisture. With fewer leaves, plants receive more air and leaves dry quicker. Fewer leaves also provide fewer places for insects to nest and gnaw.
Because suckers can potentially cause more harm to the garden than good, consider pruning those suckers.
To learn more about specific pruning techniques, here is everything you need to know about pruning tomatoes.