This guide will help you learn how to sucker tomato plants so you can easily grow these fruit. Tomato suckers are side shoots or secondary stems that produce flowers and fruits.Sucker Tomato Plants

These suckers appear in both indeterminate and determinate tomatoes. To help your plant produce more fruits, let’s learn how to prune tomato plants.

How to Sucker Tomato Plants in Three Simple Steps?

To sucker tomato plants in three simple steps, you must start to monitor your plant from a tender age to spot those suckers and sick leaves, prune them at the right time, and stake the plant as it grows tall.

1. Look Out for the Suckers and Sick Leaves

First, look for the suckers, which grow in the V space between the branches and the main stem. Check every space to see if you find these suckers.

If you leave them to grow, they will eventually become full-sized branches with lots of foliage and few fruits. Once you notice you have many suckers, it’s time to remove them. It is best to remove them as young instead of waiting for them to grow too big. Besides the suckers, it’s essential to look for any diseased or discolored leaves and remove them, as they could transmit the disease to the rest of the plant.

2. Prune Tomato Suckers

Tomato suckers under 2 inches long should simply be pinched off using your fingers. For larger suckers, use a pair of sterilized pruners to protect against the spread of diseases.

Disinfect the pruners with bleach as you move from plant to plant to prevent the spread of disease. To avoid tearing or nicking the tomato leaves or vine, make a clean cut without making any splits or ragged edges in the vine.

Prune suckers when they are small because allowing them to grow larger will amount to large foliage that will stress the plant. Conversely, do not remove too much foliage at once, as this can stress the plant, causing it to stagnate.

3. Remove or Stake the Long Branches

Pruning tomatoes is not only for the suckers and other leaves; the low-hanging branches touching the ground should also be pruned. These branches can be susceptible to fungi, bacteria, and viral infections that spread throughout the plant.Remove or Stake the Long Branches

To support your tomato plant it’s best to use tomato cages that keep the plant upright. Choose a large cage to support the plants’ length and width.

How to Root Tomato Suckers and Propagate New Plants?

To root tomato suckers and propagate new plants, you will need to cut the suckers when they are at least 6 inches long, place them in clean water to help them get new roots, move them into potting soil once they have developed some roots, and finally transplant them.

1. Cut the Suckers

Use clean garden snips, pruners, or shears to cut off the suckers.  Ensure that the suckers you harvest are at least 6 inches tall so they can survive. Snip them off at the part where they join the stem, ensuring you don’t break them. Prepare your plants as early for rooting as possible in the season to allow them enough time to grow and fruit before fall.

2. Place the Suckers in Clean Water

Immediately after you cut off the sucker, place it in a clean container of clean water.  Rooting a tomato sucker takes about seven to ten days, so ensure you note the day you put them in water.Place the Suckers in Clean Water

If you are going to root more than one variety, it is essential to label each container with the name of the variety. Do not put leaves inside the water, as they will begin to rot within a few days thwarting the rooting process.

3. Place the Containers with the Cuttings in a Bright Spot

Keep the containers with the suckers near a bright window or kitchen counter.  Do not keep them under direct sunlight; it will kill the young suckers. Change the water every day or two to keep it from growing bacteria that could harm the plant. Clean water will keep your plants healthy without attracting any diseases.

4. Move the Suckers to the Potting Mix

Once the suckers have formed some roots about an inch long, move them to a pot to help them get more established. Use a 4-inch pot filled with moist potting mix that will accommodate more than one sucker but won’t overcrowd them.

Move the pots to a shady location for a few days before introducing them to partial sun for about four to five days or more, depending on their needs. Do not leave them under direct sunlight during this time, as they will easily die.

5. Plant the Suckers in the Garden.

Once these suckers have established roots and gotten used to partial sun, transplant them to the ideal location you want them to grow. Be sure to prepare the soil beforehand so it has all the nutrients these young plants need to thrive.  Provide adequate watering as scheduled, and watch your garden flourish.Plant the Suckers in the Garden

Frequently Asked Questions

– What Happens if Your Tomato Plant Has Too Many Branches and Leaves?

If your tomato has too many branches and leaves, it will need help to grow and produce fruit. It will not get adequate sunlight and will be unhealthy. If it fruits, it will produce small fruits that may not last long enough to mature.

– When Should You Start Removing Suckers From Your Tomato Plants?

You should start removing suckers from your tomato plants early in their growing season. The younger the suckers, the easier they are to pinch or cut off, as they will not use the plant’s nutrients required by the rest of the plant.

– Why Does Removing Suckers From Tomato Plants Affect the Yield?

Removing suckers from tomato plants affects the yield of your plants as it lowers the number of branches that will produce fruits. You will end up with a few fruits, unlike plants with their suckers not removed; therefore, it is wise to retain them if you wish for high numbers.


There you have it, a complete guide on how to sucker tomato plants will help you take care of your crop. Removing suckers and any sick or yellow-colored leaves encourages your plant to produce healthy fruits, which is the end goal of your farming. As you prepare to sucker or prune tomatoes, here are several points to note.

  • Do not just remove the suckers; prune the lower leaves and branches to keep the plant airy and free from soil-borne diseases like early blight.
  • Always use clean and sterilized pruners or shears for each plant, and wipe the blade with an alcohol-based disinfectant after each use.
  • Toss the pruned foliage away in the garbage instead of using them to make compost; they may carry diseases that could infect your garden.
  • Mulch the soil with straw or shredded leaves to keep your tomato plants away from contact with the ground.
  • Prune only the indeterminate tomato variety; they are the ones that grow loads of suckers.

Gardening does not get any easier than this; enjoy your journey, fellow gardener!

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