The East London Garden Society

How to Grow Tomatoes from Cuttings

Did you know that a new tomato plant can be grown from just a snip off a mature tomato plant? The cells within the stems of tomato plants are capable of developing roots.

This is exciting news for tomato lovers who’ve wanted to make a plant produce even more. It’s also good news for the frugal gardeners who’d like to purchase one plant and enjoy a double harvest in the same season. While starting a new tomato plant from seed can take a month or more, a new start from a cutting can be ready to transplant to the garden in fourteen days. To start a new plant, begin in early summer; May or June is the best time to begin so your plant has plenty of time to grow, mature and produce fruit before the end of the growing season. Snip a six‐inch piece of stem from the growing side shoots of a mature plant. Pinch off any buds or flowers, and remove the leaves from the length of the stem except for the two upper most leaves.

Fill a small four‐inch pot with potting soil or compost, and stick your finger into the middle of the soil to make a hole. Tuck your stem into the hole and bury the portion of the stem where you removed the lowest set of leaves. Moisten the soil in your pot and place it in a bright windowsill away from direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist, and leave your cutting in the windowsill for a week.

Gradually expose your developing plant to direct light during the second week and increase your its exposure to light each day. By the end of the second week, your plant should be sitting in the sun for most of the day. Your plant should now be ready to transplant into your garden where it will continue to mature. You can expect a harvest from your new plant several weeks after the mother plant has produced its fruit for the season.

Rooting Tomatoes from Cuttings ‐ A second method for propagation of a tomato plant from a cutting is to simply place your cut stem into a jar or vase of water. Place your jar on a sunny windowsill and replenish the water every day. Observe the growing roots daily and the cutting will be ready for planting in soil outdoors after three or four weeks. Whilst this method for propagation takes a little longer, you will enjoy tomatoes into September if you can protect your plants from an early freeze.

Growing Tomatoes from Cuttings in the Winter ‐ If you’d rather have a garden‐fresh tomato through winter, consider winter propagating methods. If you can provide the proper amount of light to your tomato plants indoors, you can grow some types all year round and whilst it isn’t an easy gardening feat, it can be done. The critical factor is to provide as much light as possible. Choose the largest, south‐facing window in your home; a sunroom or a floor to ceiling picture window are perfect locations.

Take a cutting from one of your favourite plants in your garden and propagate it on your windowsill until it’s ready to be moved outdoors in a small pot. Keep the small pot outside until the first frost when you should move your plant indoors for the season. When your new plant has grown large enough, transplant it into a container that is at least five gallons in size to accommodate the mature size of your growing plant and provide a suitable support for it as it matures.

Once your tomato plant is indoors for the winter, water it regularly, and fertilise it often. You can assist pollinating by giving it a gentle shake when you water; this encourages it to produce. Also, consider tomato plant pests before you decide to grow a tomato plant indoors. If your houseplants have often fallen prey to spider mites or other insect pests, your plant will probably be very susceptible to infestations, and it may not be worth the effort. If you do find success with an indoor tomato plant, you will be rewarded with tasty, home grown tomatoes any time of year. You will also be able to continue to propagate new tomato plants for next spring with cuttings from your healthy indoor plants.