Kitchen Gardening

How to Start Tomato Plants from Cuttings

Starting tomato plants from cuttings is a fast and easy project that even beginners can do blindfolded.

Photo by Manjith Kainickara under the creative commons license for attribution 2.0
Photo/Illustration: Manjith Kainickara

Gardeners may be familiar with starting new perennials and shrubs from cuttings, but you may not realize that veggies can be started this way, too! The tomato plant, in particular, lends itself easily to cutting propagation because even the cells in its stems can become roots.

Starting tomato plants from cuttings comes in handy when you’re perusing someone else’s garden and they have a particular tomato plant that you admire. Be considerate and ask first, but it’s easy enough to take a few snips and off you go. It also gives you the opportunity of buying just a couple of plants and then creating few more for yourself free of charge.

While you’re at it, pop in a couple more and bring some to close friends. Tuck a little tomato plant that you propagated yourself into a colorful pot, complete with planting instructions. I can’t think of a better hostess gift for an early summer BBQ.

One of the advantages of propagating tomato plants by stem cuttings is that it can take tomato seedlings (started from seed) 6 to 8 weeks before they reach transplanting size. If you keep tomato cuttings warm, the transplanting time frame is cut down to a mere 10 – 14 days.

Even if you’ve never tried propagating plants with cuttings before, you’re practically guaranteed success. Tomato cuttings are such incredibly easy rooters, they will even root in a cup of water. That being said, the plants are stronger if they are rooted in soil.

What you’ll need:

• 6 inch long tomato cuttings from the tips of the plant
• 4 inch clean containers
• Potting soil that had been dampened thoroughly
• A pencil

How to start tomato plants from cuttings:

1. First, you want to fill your 4 inch containers with the dampened potting soil.
2. Take the 6 inch cuttings and clip off any flowers or buds. Clip off the bottom leaves leaving only two leaves on the cutting.
3. Make a hole in the potting soil with the pencil–you don’t want to be trying to shove the soft stem into the soil.
4. Put the cuttings into the soil and press the soil up around them. Make sure the places where you cut off the lower leaves is buried.
5. Keep them in a warm place, but shaded form any direct sun. I prefer a kitchen window to protect them from the elements, but where ever they are protected is fine.
6. Leave them moist and in this spot for about a week.
7. You’ll then want to gradually expose them to stronger light until they are in the sun for most of the day. This may take another week.
8. At this point you can transplant them into the garden bed or maybe a large pot, where they will continue to grow and produce some lovely tomatoes for you! This is the best time to give the baby tomato plants to friends so they can start them in their gardens right away.

Read more articles about growing tomatoes…

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