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Propagating Tomato Plants with Cuttings

Most of the time when cuttings are mentioned as a means of propagation, it is with house plants.  I decided to try it this year with tomato plants from my vegetable garden.

Propagation is the art of taking one plant and using parts of it to make another.  Sometimes this is done by division, such as with perennials.  Other times, a leaf or a stem is used to make a new plant.

When tomato plants have a problem with ripening of green tomatoes in the hot summer temperatures, one of the ways to spur the process of ripening them is to top the tomato plant. You can also use them to make fried green tomatoes – a tasty Southern side dish.

This gives us a nice stem cutting to use to propagate the tomato plant for a fall planting! Sometimes, fall tomatoes have less problems than those grown in summer, due to cooler temperatures.

It is so easy to get new tomato plants from cuttings.

Image adapted from Wikipedia commons photo: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. (JohnnyMrNinga)

I’ve done leaf and stem propagation with many varieties of indoor house plants but it never occurred to me to try and do this with vegetables.

I’m not sure why.  I just always thought of getting new vegetable plants with seeds or cuttings.

I use more tomatoes in recipes than just about any other vegetable, so the idea of having “freebie” plants was very appealing to me.

Want to learn more about plant propagation?  I have written a comprehensive guide to propagating hydrangeas, which shows photos of cuttings, tip rooting, air layering and division of hydrangeas.

Taking cuttings from Tomato plants

A common vegetable gardening mistake that many beginning gardeners make is spending too much money on supplies, plants and seeds. With this money saving technique, you can avoid this problem.

Early this summer, I was having great success with a couple of tomato plants.  I planted them as seedlings early in the spring, and about a month later they were at least 4 feet tall and producing small cherry tomatoes every day.

I’ve had at least 600 cherry tomatoes from the two plants and they are still producing. I enjoy growing them because they are less prone to blossom end rot.

You can get new tomato plants by taking cuttingsOne day in June I got the idea to try and see if stem cuttings would make new tomato plants.  I snipped off about 6 growing tips, dipped the end in rooting powder and used perlite as a rooting medium.

It took about two weeks and all of them had rooted.  I transferred them to larger pots, hardened them off in the shade of a crepe myrtle tree and then planted them in my garden in July.

This is the result today:

tomato plants
The two plants are about 4 feet tall.  Not producing yet, but they are very healthy and flower buds are starting to form.

Be sure to stake tomato plants early. This keeps the leaves away from the ground and helps to prevent diseases, including those that lead to leaf spotting.

tomato plants from cuttingThe original plants were supposed to be hybrid indeterminate regular sized tomato plants.  They were planted in a shady spot, and all I got were cherry tomatoes from them.

I don’t know if this is because the plant was mis-labled or because of the lower light that the plants received. See the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes here.

It will be interesting to see what I get for fruit later this month.  I’ll update the page when they start producing.

Update on the plant cuttings.  I got dozens and dozens of baby tomatoes from these two cuttings. Because I planted them later in the season, they produced much later than my other plants. I expect to have them until the frost hits.

Have you had any experience with stem cuttings of vegetables?  Was it a success or not?  I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below.

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Monday 19th of April 2021

I have pinched off a few larger suckers that got away from me and dug a hole in the same planter and stuck them way down in, watered them and they grew real well and even produced. Usually I compost the suckers and noticed one grew great in the compost so tried it in the garden. It works.

Carol Speake

Monday 19th of April 2021

Don't you love it when you get plants for free? I was delighted to figure out they grew from cuttings.


Monday 19th of January 2015

Look forward to trying to grow my own tomatoes from cuttings makes a lot of sense thank you .


Monday 19th of January 2015

Good luck with them, Maureen. Mine all took really well and produced tomatoes all through the season. Carol

Annette H

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

Now that's something I've never thought of trying before. Have shared your article with my readers and will definitely give this a try on the weekend. Thanks so much for the inspiration.


Tuesday 16th of December 2014

Thanks Annette. I don't know why I never thought of doing it before. It worked like a charm. Carol

Caring for Tomato Plants - New House New Home New Life

Thursday 3rd of July 2014

[…] some other terrific tomato growing tips, check out the following: The Gardening Cook – How to Propogate Tomato Seedlings with Cuttings   and   Sensible Gardening & Living – The Art of Seed […]

Caring for Tomato Plants | New House New Home

Wednesday 16th of April 2014

[…] some other terrific tomato growing tips, check out the following: The Gardening Cook – How to Propogate Tomato Seedlings with Cuttings and Sensible Gardening & Living – The Art of Seed Saving This entry was posted in […]

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