If your growing season isn’t long enough to start more tomatoes from seed, it is possible to prolong your crop season by growing cuttings from adult plants. (See Reference 3) Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum(sometimes referred to as Lycopersicon lycopersicum) (See References 4 and 7) are annuals which can be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 10 or as perennials in tropical climates. Growing tomato plants from cuttings, known as asexual reproduction, isn’t difficult for the home gardener.
Preparing a Potting Mix
You’ll need a sterile potting mix to start your cuttings. You can purchase a commercial mix or create your own. To create your own, combine a mixture of one part peat moss and one part sand or perlite. Put a food thermometer in the mix and place it in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for thirty minutes or until the mix reaches a temperature of 180 F.
Preparing the Cutting
You can take cuttings in a two-week-old to some plant in late spring to early summer tomato growing season. Plants growing from cuttings will need time to mature prior to fall frost. Tomato stems range from 1/4 into 1/2-inch thick, based on the time of the plant, but the width of a cutting isn’t important. What matters is the place where you took the cutting and its length. Use sharp knife to remove a 6-inch cutting in the tip of a tomato stem. The location of the stem that you pick for its tip isn’t important. Do not take cuttings in the midst of a stem or out of suckers growing from the side of a stem. Strip all but the top two or three leaves. Tomato cuttings will usually grow roots on their own with no issue. If you would like to present your cutting extra encouragement to develop roots, dip the cutting into a root hormone which you can purchase in most garden supply centers. Root hormones come as gels and powders. The leaves you eliminated climbed from nodes on the stem. Use a knife to apply a gel hormone into those nodes. To utilize a powder hormone, dip the cutting in water then coat it with the powder.
Planting the Cutting
You’ll need a 4-inch-wide plastic or clay pot from 3 to 6 inches deep using a drain hole at the bottom. Make a hole 2 to 3 inches deep at the surface of a pot filled with sterile potting mix and soften the cutting deep enough to cover the poles left by the stripped leaves. Pour enough water into the pot so that it drips out of this hole at the bottom.
Caring for your Cutting
The cutting requires extra moisture until it develop origins. Before it grows roots, a tomato cutting absorbs water through its buried stem. That is the reason why you pour as much water from the pot. Put a plastic bag over the surface of this cutting to keep the moisture from the soil from evaporating. The cutting will wilt at first, but should recover in a couple of days. Should you use a translucent plastic pot, you can see the roots develop, a help to understanding when a cutting is ready to transplant. For different pots, then hold the surface of the pot with your hand along with the stem between your hands. Turn the pot upside down and wiggle it so you can slide the pot off to see if it’s developed a few origins. If it doesn’t have roots, put the cutting back into the pot and wait more. Keep the soil moist and the cutting out of direct sunlight for just one week then expose it to more light a little at a time. Begin morning sunlight. In another week, the cutting should have origins and be ready to transplant into a garden or into a bigger, permanent growing pot.