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!
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.
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:
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.