How to Start Tomato Plants from Cuttings

comments (8) March 9th, 2009

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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Photo by Manjith Kainickara under the creative commons license for attribution 2.0Click To Enlarge

Photo by Manjith Kainickara under the creative commons license for attribution 2.0

Photo: Manjith Kainickara

Gardeners may be familiar with starting new perennials and shrubs from cuttings, but you may not realize that veggies can be started this way, too! The tomato plant, in particular, lends itself easily to cutting propagation because even the cells in its stems can become roots.

Starting tomato plants from cuttings comes in handy when you're perusing someone else's garden and they have a particular tomato plant that you admire. Be considerate and ask first, but it's easy enough to take a few snips and off you go. It also gives you the opportunity of buying just a couple of plants and then creating few more for yourself free of charge.

While you’re at it, pop in a couple more and bring some to close friends. Tuck a little tomato plant that you propagated yourself into a colorful pot, complete with planting instructions. I can't think of a better hostess gift for an early summer BBQ.

One of the advantages of propagating tomato plants by stem cuttings is that it can take tomato seedlings (started from seed) 6 to 8 weeks before they reach transplanting size. If you keep tomato cuttings warm, the transplanting time frame is cut down to a mere 10 – 14 days.

Even if you’ve never tried propagating plants with cuttings before, you’re practically guaranteed success. Tomato cuttings are such incredibly easy rooters, they will even root in a cup of water. That being said, the plants are stronger if they are rooted in soil.

What you’ll need:

• 6 inch long tomato cuttings from the tips of the plant
• 4 inch clean containers
• Potting soil that had been dampened thoroughly
• A pencil

How to start tomato plants from cuttings:

1. First, you want to fill your 4 inch containers with the dampened potting soil.
2. Take the 6 inch cuttings and clip off any flowers or buds. Clip off the bottom leaves leaving only two leaves on the cutting.
3. Make a hole in the potting soil with the pencil–you don’t want to be trying to shove the soft stem into the soil.
4. Put the cuttings into the soil and press the soil up around them. Make sure the places where you cut off the lower leaves is buried.
5. Keep them in a warm place, but shaded form any direct sun. I prefer a kitchen window to protect them from the elements, but where ever they are protected is fine.
6. Leave them moist and in this spot for about a week.
7. You’ll then want to gradually expose them to stronger light until they are in the sun for most of the day. This may take another week.
8. At this point you can transplant them into the garden bed or maybe a large pot, where they will continue to grow and produce some lovely tomatoes for you! This is the best time to give the baby tomato plants to friends so they can start them in their gardens right away.

Read more articles about growing tomatoes...


posted in: tomatoes, propagation

Comments (8)

heni1022 writes: i have a bad habit of letting "suckers" grow too big. when i finally cut them, i stick them in water and let them root in there.
every 2-3 days or so, i put fresh water in.
I LOVE seeing this:
http://img337.imageshack.us/img337/9734/rooting.jpg
btw: this is 12 days after taking the cutting!!!
this can now go in the ground and in 1-2 weeks i'll have flowers!

There is one single problem with this method: you end up with WAY too many tomato plants... I am up to 100+ and no place to plant them!
What a fantastic problem to have :D
Posted: 3:31 pm on April 21st
jamo237 writes: i would like to say thank you chris i will try this out.
Posted: 7:19 am on September 13th
Robert_Humphries writes: OK, I'd like to try it. My question is: What about next spring? My plants are growing and producing now, so I expect them to give up the ghost last of September, or early October in Tennessee.
Can I take a cutting and grow them over the winter? Cutting them now does me no good, as I have no place else to grow them.
Comments?
Robert H.
Posted: 4:50 pm on August 25th
tanagaba writes: Wow! I did not know it was so easy. I'm going to try this right now! We still have a couple of warm months left.
Posted: 2:24 pm on August 19th
tiredarms writes: What makes you think, "That being said, the plants are stronger if they are rooted in soil.".

I have never found it to be true.

Did you read it somewhere?
Posted: 7:04 pm on May 4th
curiosity writes: Sounds too good to be try, but I will definitely try it. I love the idea of saving time (60 days to 14 days).
Posted: 12:59 pm on March 14th
Rosamarina writes: Aha! Do I smell a plant thief? Like me? Thank you for the good directions. I have heard you can do this, but there were no real directions. Probably because the advisors thought it was so easy even a dummy could do it. I will try it and use the new plants for barter with my neighbours.

Posted: 8:10 pm on March 13th
nettiepoo writes: i will definitely try it this spring!
Posted: 12:18 pm on March 13th
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