How to Take Cuttings from Tomato Plants

Did you know you can easily double or triple your tomato plant stock in about two weeks?

It's true! All you have to do it take cuttings of your existing plants. The whole process takes about 1 minute of hands-on time and can yield great results! 

This is called "propagating" or "cloning" your plants. The resulting plant will have the same exact genetics as the original plant you cut from. 

What does this mean for you? If you are visiting a friend/neighbor's house and see a tomato variety you'd love to try, you can ask permission to take a cutting... and grow that same plant in your own garden! Just be sure to take your cuttings early enough in the season so the plants have time to grow and produce fruit before the end of the season. 

Taking cuttings is incredibly simple and easy. Here is what you will need:

  • A healthy tomato plant
  • A clean, sharp pruners/clippers or a scalpel
  • A water glass or jar full of water
  • A warm spot in your house
  • Optional: A 4 inch pot filled with moistened sterilized potting soil
  • Optional: Rooting Hormone powder or gel

 

Step One: Take Your Cutting

  • Examine the plant and look for a "sucker" to cut off the main stem. 
  • Make a clean cut and immediately place the cutting in a glass/jar of fresh water. Keep the leaves out of the water.
  • Alternatively, dip the freshly cut stem end in the rooting hormone gel/powder and gently insert the stem into the 4" pot. Be sure to remove any leaves that may touch the soil, reserving just the top leaves. Water gently. 
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Step Two: Waiting

  • Place your cutting in a warm spot. A sunny window sill is perfect. 
  • Be sure to check the glass/jar daily and refill/change water as needed.
  • In about 7 days, you should notice roots beginning to form! Allow the roots to grow strong and vigorous for a few more days. 
  • If you are using the potting soil method, be sure to keep the soil evenly moist - not too dry, not too soggy. It may be helpful to cover the plant and pot with a plastic baggie to create a "humidity dome" to aid propagation. Rooting into soil will take longer, roughly 2-4 weeks. 
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Step Three: Planting

  • Once you have strong roots (about 2 weeks in water, 2-4 weeks in potting soil), your plant is ready to start the transition to living outdoors. 
  • Plants will need to be "hardened off", which means you slowly introduce them to outdoor conditions, a few hours at a time. If you just throw them outside after living indoors for so long, they might not survive. 
  • For both methods (growing in water or growing in pots), take the plant outside for about 2-3 hours on the first day and gradually build up to having the plant outside the whole day (this should take about a week). 
  • Once plant is hardened, it can be planted into the garden. Bury the plant up to the first set of leaves to encourage a strong root system. 
  • Be sure to use my method for protecting your precious plants from cutworms
 

Step Four: Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

  • You did it! You successfully multiplied your planting stock and doubled/tripled your production. Nice work! 
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Have you ever tried taking cuttings of tomatoes? How about other plants? I'd love to hear about it. 

Taking cuttings is an easy, fun and inexpensive way to multiply your plant stock quickly. Have fun! 

-Lori