Suckers threaten tomato plants fruit yield
Suckers on tomato plants are the small shoots that grow between the main stem and the branches. These shoots emerge from the leaf axils and can sometimes be mistaken for new branches. However, suckers do not bear fruits, and if left unchecked, they can divert valuable energy and nutrients away from the main stem and branches that actually produce tomatoes. Therefore, it is important for tomato gardeners to know how to identify and manage these suckers to maximize fruit production.
Spotting tomato plant suckers made easy
Identifying suckers on tomato plants is relatively easy. They usually appear as small, green shoots emerging at a 45-degree angle from the leaf axils. Suckers can vary in size, but they typically grow rapidly and can become quite long if left unattended. One way to differentiate suckers from branches is by observing the leaf structure. Unlike branches, which have leaves growing opposite each other, suckers usually have leaves growing alternatively.
Crucial: Remove Tomato Suckers for Healthier Plants
Managing suckers is crucial to ensure healthy tomato plants. While some tomato varieties may require different approaches, in most cases it is recommended to remove suckers. This can be done by simply pinching them off with your fingers or using pruning shears. Removing suckers helps redirect the plant’s energy towards the main stem and branches that bear fruits, resulting in larger, juicier tomatoes.
Selective pruning benefits certain tomato varieties
It is important to note that there are certain tomato varieties, such as indeterminate or vining types, that may benefit from selective sucker pruning. These varieties can grow quite tall and produce numerous branches, so removing some of the suckers can help manage the plant’s size and improve air circulation, reducing the risk of diseases. However, determinate or bush types of tomatoes usually benefit from leaving the suckers intact, as they tend to have a more compact growth habit.