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Propagating Tomato Plants with Cuttings

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.  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.

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

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.

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.

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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