Tomatoes

When You Spy A Sucker

Before gardening this year, I didn’t know what a “sucker” on a tomato plant was.

At some point along the way, I saw a post or video about propagating tomato plants from these “suckers,” and so I went outside to take a peek at my own tomato plants to see if I could find one. Sure enough, I had several!

Suckers are mini tomato plants, that grow from the crook of where a tomato branch meets the stem. When you find them on your own plants you have a few options.

  1. You can leave the sucker, and it will just grow into another branch on the tomato plant.
  2. You can remove the sucker and toss it. Some gardeners swear this is necessary to help improve airflow and reduce the risk of disease.
  3. You can remove the sucker… and plant it. (It will grow into a tomato plant of its own!)

The first two options are pretty self explanatory, but propagating a sucker into a plant of its own can be a little daunting (but it shouldn’t be, because it’s a cinch!)

6 Steps To Propagating Tomato Plants

1. Identify your sucker.

2. Gently break the sucker free from the main stem of the plant.

3. Place your cutting in a glass with a bit of cold water. 

4. Keep an eye on your sucker. If all goes according to plan, you should notice roots sprouting from the bottom of it. (Mine sprouted this much in about a week).

5. Remove any small leaves on the bottom of your sucker, and plant it a few inches deep in the soil. This will encourage the cutting to develop a stronger root system.

6. Care for your potted sucker like you would care for a new tomato seedling. Keep the soil moist, but not overwatered. Also, keep an eye on the planting for the first few days. If it’s really hot or sunny when you plant your new seedling, it may suffer from a bit of transplant shock. (Moving it to the shade can help it survive those first few days.) 

The result? A new tomato plant!

This can be a great way to stagger your tomato crop, and get an additional harvest later in the growing season (depending on what growing zone you’re in. Tomatoes aren’t resistant to the cold, so make sure you give them enough time to mature before the first frost!)

Happy growing!

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