Pruning tomato plants to remove unnecessary branches and stems is an easy and efficient way to increase yield and minimize disease spread. Pruning indeterminate tomatoes specifically should also help ensure optimal harvest results.
To remove suckers, pinch off their lower leaves before cutting with clean gardening pruners or using a sharp knife for larger plants.
Remove the Suckers
Tomato suckers are unwelcome sprouts from where a stem and leaf meet that drain energy from their host plant and are especially problematic with indeterminate varieties of tomatoes.
Suckers also restrict a tomato’s ability to access light and air, leaving it more susceptible to disease. Removing them will improve their health while increasing fruit yield.
Gardeners usually employ pinching off growing tips with their fingers or pruning shears; for larger, more stubborn sucker stems you may require sharp pruning shears instead.
Tomato suckers must be removed as soon as they appear so they do not form secondary stems and spread disease further down the vine.
Remove suckers at any stage in a plant’s development; however, for optimal results it is best to do it when they are small and weak. By eliminating these unwanted shoots early, more resources will remain for fruiting and flower production.
Maintain the health of your tomato plant during summer by pinching off lower leaves and cutting sucker stems as necessary to promote strong main stem development and fruit cluster support. This will enable it to concentrate its efforts on producing fruitful clusters.
Missouri pruning is another gardening practice used by some gardeners; in this method, only the tip of each sucker is removed, leaving some leaves behind to protect developing fruit from sunburn and prevent mold and mildew growth. This technique is effective if your tomato plant has produced too many suckers or becomes too bushy; otherwise sunlight won’t reach enough of your fruits to provide essential vitamins.
Pruning and pinching are powerful techniques for controlling the growth of tomato plants, helping them bloom, fruit, and flourish. But when selecting pruning methods to use, keep this in mind: No more than 30 percent of its foliage should ever be removed at one time to avoid shock to the plant that would result in curled up leaves that waste energy and cause shock-induced leaves to curl back up again quickly.
Root the Suckers
Tomato plants produce side shoots known as suckers that may wreak havoc with your garden by sucking up nutrients that should stay put in their main stem. Instead of disposing of these suckers as waste products, however, these suckers could actually be used to root new tomato plants, expanding your selection in your garden!
Take cuttings of existing tomato plants to increase fruit, or clone an existing tomato plant to grow indoors. Tomato cuttings may be rooted in water; for optimal strength, root them directly in soil.
Cloned tomato plants from suckers require fast rooting times so as to allow the new plant to produce fruit faster than starting from seed, according to Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service.
To root tomato suckers, simply select healthy shoots at the base of your plant that measure 3-4 inches in length and show no signs of disease.
Once you’ve identified a sucker, take swift action by cutting it with sharp pruning shears or scissors and immediately removing its lower leaves so it does not wilt away.
Place the sucker in a container filled with warm water. Although it will wilt for several days, eventually it should recover and start growing roots – after healing is complete you can transplant into a larger pot or garden.
Burying the sucker in the ground to take advantage of its nutrients and water is another option, though this method requires more work. However, this can provide a second crop of tomatoes in your garden!
Tomato suckers can be an excellent way to grow more tomatoes, but you must be wary when removing them. Failure to prune correctly could reduce airflow and moisture to your original plant, potentially leading to diseases or other issues.
To avoid this scenario, it is wise to snip off any sucker that grows too large or begins producing fruit before it starts growing too fast or starts producing blooms – this will keep your plant from becoming overcrowded and thus lower yields.
Replant the Suckers
Tomato plants tend to produce numerous suckers – the little shoots that grow off of the main stem and branch – that sap energy away from their main plant and hamper its progress, so pruning these shoots is usually recommended for optimal performance.
Replanting tomato suckers requires two approaches. You can either reseed them, or take cuttings from existing tomato plants and use these as new plants in your garden. While taking cuttings may be faster, ensure they have time to root before transplanting into your garden.
Replanting suckers that are at least 6 inches long is optimal, as this size provides optimal conditions for rooting new tomato plants. Use sharp shears to cut the sucker away from its main plant as close as possible without harming it and then plant.
Once you’ve cut off a sucker, place it in a glass of water to help it root. Roots should begin growing within two or three weeks.
Once the roots are strong enough to support the stem, place the sucker in a container before replanting in your garden if the weather permits. When planting outdoors again, ensure the soil remains moist but not waterlogged, and provides adequate light so roots can develop properly.
Once a sucker has taken root, it is critical that it receives sufficient water in order for it to flourish into a full-grown tomato plant. Furthermore, placing it in an area with plenty of light would also help foster its development.
If the tomato suckers haven’t reached an appropriate size for replanting, leave them on the main plant to produce fruit – this gives the indeterminate tomato plant the opportunity to continue producing larger fruit throughout its season.
Propagating plants using sucker cuttings is an efficient and economical way to propagate plants, saving both time and money! Use sucker cuttings to replant tomato plants outside or grow them indoors for an early harvest.
Harvest the Suckers
Tomato suckers are small shoots that appear between leaves and main stem, known as axils. Left unattended, these will often form branches which produce flowers and fruits.
Pruning tomato suckers is essential to the health and growth of healthy tomato plants and to ensuring an impressive harvest. Left unchecked, these side shoots may absorb energy and nutrients that would otherwise benefit your main plant directly, thus diminishing fruit production and impacting yields.
Many gardeners may be uncertain how best to address their tomato plants’ suckers or whether to prune them at all, yet pruning tomato suckers is an excellent way to increase yield by restricting their growth and diverting energy towards fruit development rather than leaf expansion. Pruning tomato suckers is proven to improve yield by limiting their expansion and redirecting energy towards fruit instead of leaf expansion.
Pruning tomato suckers that are young, healthy and between 4-6 inches long is ideal. Use clean shears or scissors to cut them near the main plant stem without being too close; this ensures the most precise cuts with minimum risk of infection.
Harvest suckers early in the season for maximum effectiveness; doing so allows them more time to root into the soil before summer heat and dryness cause them to wither and die off.
Cuttings from tomato suckers can also be taken to quickly reproduce another crop of fresh tomatoes; this method is much quicker than starting new plants from seeds.
Only take caution in pruning too many tomato suckers at once as this could disrupt their development and hinder future growth.
Once suckers have established roots, they’re ready for planting outside. Place the suckers in a shallow hole and insert them into the soil to plant.
Tomato plants are dicot and herbaceous plants, meaning that their pile root extends to depths of 2 meters (6.6 feet). Over time, this develops into vines which produce branching stems.
Once the terminal bud on top of a pile root stops growing further, this signals to the plant that it’s time for it to produce peripheral buds and vines – typically this happens midsummer. If pests like hornworms attack, protecting tomatoes against their damage by pruning away withered foliage or eliminating insects can help.