Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tomato Sucker Management

Now that the tomato plants are fruiting it's important to prune them so that they focus more of their energy on fruit production and less on leaf growth. has an excellent guide.

I'm growing 2 types of tomatoes and each requires different pruning measures. Pruning tomatoes I've discovered is all about managing the suckers.
As a tomato grows, side shoots, or suckers, form in the crotches, or axils, between the leaves and the main stem. If left alone, these suckers will grow just like the main stem, producing flowers and fruit.
The celebrity is a determinate so it will need very little pruning.
Determinate tomatoes need no pruning other than removing all suckers below the first flower cluster, because pruning won't affect their fruit size or plant vigor. If you do any pruning at all above the first flower cluster on determinate tomatoes, you'll only be throwing away potential fruit.
The orange paruche cherry tomato is semi-determinate so only a few of its suckers will be allowed to stay, the rest must be pulled off.
Semi-determinate plants, as the name implies, are somewhere between these two other types. I think semi-determinates are best grown to three or four stems
The author writes celebrity tomatoes are semi-determinate, but the seed company I ordered from states they are determinate so I'm going to defer to their experience with their seed. This also has the added benefit of less work for me!

Pruning Tomatoes at Fine Gardening

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  1. Celebrity is the main variety I'm growing this year, along with Purple Cherokee. They're bushy like determinate, which is what I thought they were, but at least one of them is going to need staking soon. Lotsa flowers but no fruit yet on mine...Thanks for the sucker pinching tips!

  2. Hi JGH, I didn't expect celebrity to grow so tall either. I think at some point I'm going to have to cut off the growing tip. I'm scared that if it gets too tall it'll tip over in a storm.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!