Pull them suckers from the crotch….

If you thought the title had anything to do with anything other than pruning tomatoes then your mind must be in the gutter. 😉 Removing “suckers from the crotch” is a pruning technique for tomato plants that can help grow more fruit and less plant.

First off – What is a “sucker“? A sucker is a growth that occurs in the crotch (area between the stem and branch). Why remove the sucker from the crotch? The theory is that the tomato plant pulls nutrients from the ground to grow and you want more tomato’s rather than suckers. You see, suckers bear no fruit so if you pull them off the nutrients that would have been used to grow them will go to the rest of the plant – including fruit.


The first few years of gardening I knew nothing of the “suckers”. One day my neighbor and I were talking about our gardens and he asked me if I have been keeping up with the suckers. I looked at him puzzled and asked what he was talking about. He educated me. Ever since I or my wife will go out and remove the suckers while they are small.

In the years since doing this I have seen tomato plants grow larger and have had better success with the tomatoes in general.

So – do you pull the suckers from the crotch?



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9 thoughts on “Pull them suckers from the crotch….”

  1. I do that. I have tried pruning the whole plant. When it reaches 6′ tall and shows no sign of slowing up, it is time to prune the height. I suppose that is okay.

  2. I do it from time to time…bit I get fruit from my suckers….when I stick them in the ground and get clones of the parent plant.

    I’ve had great success with simply sticking the pruned piece of the plant into a pot or the even straight into the soil where I want another plant. Most of them take root and produce another tomato plant that is a clone of the parent plant, no need to worry about the plant not breeding true.

    If it takes root, the sucker will grow into a full sized plant that will grow and produce like the original…and produce more suckers to prune off and start more plants… I had one tomato plant that lasted me almost three years by suckering it off and planting the cuttings. The original plant had long since died back, but its clones kept on going…

    I will say that I have an advantage – I live in Zone 10a, where we get frost about once every 20 years….so I have tomato plants 12 months a year.

    But try it, you may end up with even MORE tomatoes…but how can that bea bad thing?


  3. Thanks for this info. I typically have trimmed many of the branches that don’t bear fruit. This sounds good too. Should both be done?

  4. Pruning is more important to “Indeterminate” types then “Determinate” ones, do to the former producing fruit up to the first frost while the later is pretty a one time production. If you put a green house the former type in fall or before winter, I would think it would continue for some time afterward. In north Texas it’s very windy, so I wrap mine around baler twin starting about 4″ above the soil and running straight up about 6′ to 7′ to a cable.

  5. This is what I was shown by my dad when I first started growing tomatoes in my green house 20years ago.
    If I am growing a cherry variety then on some of the plants I let the suckers grow as it could almost double the crop.
    thanks dba for the tip about planting the suckers this is a great idea as the growing season is short over here in the UK as this way it gives me a plant which is quicker than waiting for them to grow from seed. I will try it this season as my new plants are comming strong now.

  6. Sorry forgot to say that I never buy seeds.
    I am using the seeds from the first plants I ever grew,and the seeds for these came from the plants that my dad grew.
    All we do every year is keep over a few tomatoes,remove the seeds before using then,let the seeds dry and store them.
    Never have I a year missed with this method. So don’t go giving Monsanto money every year,get a good reliable seed in whatever varieties you like and you have home made heirloom seeds

  7. Rourke- you had me smiling – I have always pulled the suckers but never heard of the crotch expression !!My first thought was oh no someone got tangled with a porcupine or a wooden fence (when our son was a little boy he got a nasty splinter from a fence yes there
    in his crotch)
    db- wow I have never heard of anyone being able to grow tomatoes 12 months out of the year -good for you and thanks for that inf.
    The latest re tomatoes is to plant the stem deeper in the ground.This gives the plant
    better stability.I have tried it and it seems to work .
    Looking forward Rourke to hearing about your weekend !!! Arlene


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