At this time of year, it’s nearly impossible to find any tomato plants in our local stores. So in lieu of purchasing plants, I decided to root some tomato plant suckers for the new tomato plants.
How To Root Tomato Plants from Cuttings
It’s actually pretty easy to root tomato clippings in water. Tomato plants will grow new roots from the stem easily. If you’ve ever seen a plant that has toppled over, you might have noticed roots starting to grow at the places where the stem of the tomato plant touched the soil.
Making Tomato Cuttings
Generally cuttings should be about six inches long, with the leaves removed from the bottom 2-3 inches. I took my tomato plant cuttings from the tops of the plant as well as from some suckers that were growing further down the plant. (Suckers are the shoots that grow at the intersection of the main stem and a branch.)
Be sure to remove any tomatoes or flowers from the cutting. This gives the cutting a better chance to produce roots as the energy of the plant isn’t going into reproductive parts.
How to Grow Roots on Tomato Cuttings
Place the cutting in a cup of water in a window that receives indirect light and let them sit for a week or two. Keep on eye on the water level in the cup and add to the water as needed.
After a week, lift the tomato stems out of the water to check on root development. If they need more time to develop some roots, put them back in the cup and leave them for a few more days.
Keep checking your tomato plant’s root development and when they have a decent amount of new roots, you can transplant them into soil pots.
Transplanting Your Rooted Tomato Cuttings Into Pots
Fill a small pot (4-6 inches) with potting soil and moisten it thoroughly. Gently stick the tomato plant cutting in the middle of the pot and press the soil around it firmly.
I kept my pots in a container with a little bit of water in the bottom of it for the first two days. This allowed the soil to soak up the water from below and remain moist. After the second day, I drained the water, but kept the cuttings in the container for ease of transport.
I also put some cuttings directly in water for the first week. They developed roots and then I planted them in soil. I don’t see much difference in this method.
Adjusting to Full Sun – Hardening Your Tomato Plant Cuttings
Keep your tomatoes in a shady place for the first week, then, if they are developing roots, gradually ease them in to the light until at last they are in full sun. Do this slowly, making sure not to burn the plants.
This could take as long as a week or week and a half. You can gently tug on your tomato cuttings to see if they are developing roots. If they resist a bit, there are some roots there.
After your plants have adjusted to the light conditions, transplant them into larger pots and place a tomato cage or other support around the plant. Read about how to grow tomatoes so that your late summer tomato crop will be successful.
As your tomato plant grow, keep an eye out for large green caterpillars on them, a common tomato plant pest. If you find one, be sure to pick it off and get rid of it.