Buy 2, Get 3 Free! How to Propagate your Tomato Plants

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I love free plants! I recently got some free tomato plants for a friend.

I noticed that she had some ‘Sweet 100’ tomato plants that were sending off what some call “suckers”,  and a bare spot nearby.

You may already know how that I heartily dislike bare spots of ground, especially when it could be growing a tomato plant.

“You know, I could make you some more tomato plants to go in that spot,” I told her.

My friend was excited and let me snip away.

Here’s all you need: tomato cuttings, pots,  potting soil or compost

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tomato cuttings with lower leaves removed

 

First item of business: strip off leaves from the bottom 6-8 inches that will be under the dirt. Conventional recommendation is to remove all flowers and fruit so the cutting can concentrate its energy on making roots.

I left the flowers. We’ll see how that worked out for me.

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Second, stick the cuttings into the soil and place in a shady spot. I used the bottom of my pallet potting bench. It has filtered sunlight and it is easy for me to remember to water them.

So far, not to complicated, right?

Don’t worry, it stays uncomplicated. 🙂

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The third step is to water and wait. Keep the soil moist but not soggy until you begin to see little roots poke out of the bottom of the pot.

This may take between 10-14 days, depending on climate. At this point, you can carefully hold the plant between two fingers, flip it upside down and see how the roots are growing.

A new plant with root development like the one above will be able to do well on its own in a garden.

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Rooted tomato suckers

As you can see, the plant that had flowers managed to make roots and tomatoes at the same time. Verdict: leave the flowers, no big deal when it comes to tomatoes.

Treat the new plants like other transplants: keep watered, give shade for the first few days if they begin to look stressed, and watch them grow!

If you want to watch the progress, you can also root them in a jar of water. Technically you could just poke them in the garden where you want them, but you would need to give them much attention to be sure they get enough shade and water. Rooting them in pots means that they have access to nutrients(compost) as well as the special attention that they need.

My friend was happy to get more tomato plants for free. I hope that she has more tomatoes than she knows what to do with this summer!

Propagating tomatoes is similar to how you propagate many other herbs. I made another mint plant in a previous post using a similar technique, and shared some oregano with my brother using root division in another post.

I’m always excited to save money in the garden. What about you? Have you ever rooted a tomato cutting? Did you know that it could be done? I’d love to hear your thoughts and it is easy to comment!

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4 responses »

  1. Aren’t you lucky! Sweet 100’s are the best little tomatoes I’ve ever tasted, and one of the very few things that we can actually grow with some modest degree of success around here. Harvesting those juicy red marbles is always the highlight of the season. I’m seriously tempted to try increasing my yields with you handy tips here.

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