What Are Suckers On Tomato Plants


Understanding and Managing Suckers on Tomato Plants

What Are Suckers On Tomato Plants

Gardeners cherish tomato plants, revered for their versatility and delicious fruit worldwide. While cultivating these plants is rewarding, there’s a common issue that often perplexes growers: suckers. Understanding what suckers are and how to manage them is crucial for optimizing the health and productivity of your tomato plants.

What Are Suckers on Tomato Plants?

Suckers are the additional shoots that sprout between the main stem and branches of tomato plants. They usually emerge from the leaf axils, the point where the leaf meets the stem. These small shoots grow rapidly and can divert essential nutrients away from the main plant and developing fruit.

Types of Suckers:

  1. Leaf-Axil Suckers: As mentioned earlier, these suckers originate at the point where the leaf meets the stem. They grow quickly and can have a significant impact on the plant if not managed promptly.
  2. Basal Suckers: These suckers appear at the base of the plant and should be removed as soon as they emerge to prevent them from absorbing nutrients from the main stem.

Why Should You Remove Suckers?

The primary reason for removing suckers is to maintain plant health and redirect energy to fruit production. Suckers can lead to overgrowth, resulting in an overcrowded plant that competes for resources. By eliminating these shoots, the main stem receives more nutrients, promoting better fruit development and overall plant vigor.

How to Identify and Remove Suckers?

  1. Identification: Regularly inspect your tomato plants for any emerging suckers. They often appear as small shoots, and their removal is crucial to prevent them from growing too large.
  2. Removal Technique: Gently pinch off suckers with your fingers when they are still small and manageable. Ensure you do this carefully to avoid damaging the main stem or other parts of the plant.
  3. Timing: It’s best to remove suckers when they are young and tender. Delaying removal may result in larger, tougher suckers that are more challenging to eliminate without harming the plant.

Benefits of Removing Suckers:

  1. Enhanced Air Circulation: Removing suckers promotes better airflow within the plant, reducing the risk of diseases such as blight.
  2. Improved Fruit Quality: Redirecting nutrients to the main stem and developing fruit leads to larger, healthier tomatoes with better flavor.
  3. Sturdier Plant Structure: Eliminating excess growth helps maintain a robust and manageable plant structure, preventing the plant from becoming unruly.

Tips for Managing Suckers:

  1. Regular Inspection: Consistently monitor your tomato plants for suckers. Frequent checks enable you to identify and remove them promptly.
  2. Proper Pruning Techniques: Use sharp and clean pruning shears or your fingers to remove suckers carefully. Always sterilize tools before use to prevent the spread of diseases.
  3. Early Intervention: Remove suckers when they are small to minimize any negative impact on the plant’s growth and fruit production.


Understanding and managing suckers on tomato plants play a vital role in nurturing healthy, productive plants. Regular inspection and timely removal of these shoots contribute significantly to maximizing fruit yield and maintaining overall plant vigor.

Remember, the goal is to redirect the plant’s energy towards producing high-quality tomatoes. By implementing these practices, you’ll ensure that your tomato plants thrive and yield bountiful, flavorful harvests.