Pruning Your Tomato Plant: A Suckers Guide to Removing Suckers

Posted on Jul 16 2010 - 3:08am by Mike Lieberman

Once your tomato plant starts to grow, you will want to prune it to remove the suckers.

They will start to grow regardless of how you take care of your plant. You might notice them as your plant is growing, but think nothing of them. Suckers won’t harm your tomato plant, but will prevent it from producing more fruit.

A sucker is off-shoot growth that grows where the stem and a branch of the tomato plant meet. It doesn’t serve much of a purpose.

If you pick them off it will help encourage more growth because the plant can focus on growing more food instead of keeping the sucker alive.

To prune your tomato plant, eye your plant along the stem and look at where the branches are are. If you see growth in between the branch and the stem in that corner, you got yourself a sucker. Pick it off. You can either use your fingers or a scissor. That’s it.

You’ll have to check the plant every once in a while for suckers, but they are easy to identify and maintain.

That’s my suckers guide to removing suckers from your tomato plant. You ain’t no sucker, are you?


  • Sketchkat06

    good post topic! Did you know you could also root a sucker into a new productive tomato plant? :)

  • Mike Lieberman

    No, but I do now and will certainly give it a try.

  • Sketchkat06

    Oh yeah! If you find you have a healthy plant, and you get a really strong
    sucker (like one you overlooked for a couple weeks) it works really well.
    It's cloning at its simplest :) Just snip the sucker as long as you can,
    strip the bottom 2 or 3 leaf branches, and then put it in water like a cut
    flower. It will start to sprout roots along the stem in a few days, make
    sure to keep the water fresh!

    The way that Tomatos can shoot out roots along the stem is why they should
    be planted as deep as you can when transplanting, removing leaf branches if
    they're below the new soil level. The tomato plant will put out roots all
    along the burried stem and have a stronger root system than if you just
    planted it at the same soil level.

    Happy growing!

  • Wendy

    Thanks for the tip! I didn't know that. I'm heading outside to take care of it right now…

  • Sketchkat06

    hey thanks dude, you just inspired the subject of my next post!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Damned you. I would've let one of them grow more. I'll have to wait for others now. Can't wait to see if this works.

  • Sketchkat06

    you could always ask a friend for one of their suckers :) especially if they
    grew something different you want to try.

  • Whenuwish1

    Oh yeah… works like a dream. There are a bunch of herb plants that you can do that with as well. Right this moment I have some stems of basil in glasses of water lining my window sill. I'm going to get some started for inside this winter.

  • LOS

    I really enjoy the clips, and it gives me ideas of my own…. NICE work.

  • heavenleiblu

    Those suckers made a sucka outta me. I got overzealous and overpruned!

  • alison

    Entering contest to win six free seed packets! Thanks for all your videos!

  • prolificliving

    I had no earthly idea!! I thought that you might be talking about removing the yellowing leaves which I normally do but not until they are pretty yellow. Thank you and I am off to clean mine as soon as the sun comes up :)!

  • MarisaC

    Adding myself (PCOStherealdeal from youtube) to your contest for the free seed packet's from “the fine people of Botanical Interests”. lol Thanks Mike!

  • Jessica

    I do this also. I was watching some video on youtube a couple of weeks ago and they were cutting off all of the leaves of their tomato plants once they set fruit. It looked like a green twiggy thing with a bunch of tomatoes on it… Do you know anything about that?

  • Mike Lieberman

    Interesting. Never heard of cutting off all the leaves. I would think that they provide some benefits of shade and protection.

  • heavenleiblu

    ha! kinda how mine looks now :-( i hope they don't get sunscald, especially since I'll be away

  • Jujutubes

    Yeah I never heard of anyone doing that either… I thought it was really strange lol.

  • Jujutubes

    Did you do that to your tomato plants!? Are there any benefits to cutting off all of the leaves?

  • Zach Carman

    In the picture above you are chopping off a good branch that will produce flowers and possibly fruit…You may be talking about the sun leaves? But removing lower growth always promotes upper energy so it is a good idea, I just think your misleading people into thinking that lower branches dont produce fruit…

  • deb

    He’s not taking off a branch, it’s the sucker that is growing in the y space between the branch
    and the stem.

  • Sher

    My tomatoes are about 5′ tall already. When I went out to cut off the suckers, those are the branches that have the blooms and the tomatoes on them. They are coming out of the y of the lower branch, which has nothing but leaves on it. Needless to say I didn’t cut them off.