Get Free Tomato Plants from Rooting Sucker Cuttings

© Josie C

In this post on pruning tomatoes I recommended cutting off the suckers to promote stronger tomato plants. Since then it has been mentioned to me by a couple of different gardeners that they cut off the suckers and root them in water for a second planting in the fall and winter.

Honestly, vegetative tomato propagation had never occurred to me, because as a northerner I only get one shot a year to grow them in my garden. Why would I want to make more tomato plants when I can barely handle a couple for a summer?

Obviously I don’t live in the south and don’t get to experience the second planting season that TreeHugger reader Shawndude mentions, and Texas gardeners like Josie C. at Dirtiest Kid in the World does a great job of taking advantage of.

She selects a tomato plant that looks like it is past its prime -- but still free of any diseases -- to perform "tomato surgery" on. This involves taking cuttings with a clean, sharp knife. The cuttings are placed in water that she changes daily until the roots start to form.

Soon after the root formation occurs she plants the tomato plants in the fall in her garden.

This is such a great tip that I wish I had a greenhouse where I could over winter a tomato plant or two. If you have ever gone to an heirloom tomato seedling sale in the spring and walked away disappointed because you could only buy one plant of a variety you really love, this is a frugal way to make more of that single plant for your garden.

I’ll definitely be taking advantage of this next year.

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Tags: Fruits & Vegetables | Gardening | Tomatoes