Adventitious roots means more plants

I'm pretty bad at keeping on top of my tomato plants, as I never seem to remove the "suckers" when they're small. Every once in a while I realize the plants are getting way out of control, and I remove what has become a pretty large section of plant. Of course this makes me feel guilty and wasteful, as it seems like I'm holding a pretty substantial plant in my hand, and I hate throwing away good plants.

So this year I decided to pot up a few cuttings and see what happens. I figured that the cuttings would root pretty easily, as tomatoes can create adventitious roots, which means they can form roots all along the stem. That's why you always hear to plant your tomato plants deeply -- don't just plant them at the same depth they're growing in the pot. Roots will form on the buried stem, and more roots means stronger plants.


So I tried a few cuttings of different sizes, kept one outside under the deck, one inside under lights, and one inside under lights and also under a cover to preserve humidity (which is what I do with almost every type of cutting I take).

Do I need to tell you that all three of the cuttings have rooted?

The one that appears to be doing the best root-wise is the one that was under the humidity tent. It wasn't satisfied with growing roots under the soil's surface, and decided that it was humid enough to create some roots above the soil:

I should mention that I almost always have way more tomato plants than I need, but I feel like it's good to have spares in case of animal damage, storms, or disease. I also want some plants started later, so my harvest can be staggered a bit.

It's always best to check the drainage holes.
Visible roots means this plant is ready!

I'm not sure how much faster growing from cuttings is than starting from seed, but these will be ready to put into the garden in about 2 weeks from the time I took the cuttings, which is fast enough for me.

Plus I like the price (free of course).

Now I just need to resist the temptation to root every single tomato cutting I remove. I do not need more plants on my driveway.


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (June 15, 2011 at 10:28 AM)  

Amazing! You could supply your entire neighborhood with tomato plants :-).

The Sage Butterfly  – (June 15, 2011 at 1:10 PM)  

Neat idea! I have never tried that...maybe now I will. Thanks for the tip!

PJ | Home and Garden Decor  – (June 15, 2011 at 2:41 PM)  

That's a great idea, Alan! I will give it a try and hope the cuttings will root for me as it worked for you. I'm sure the growing will be quite a bit faster than starting the plant from a seed.

Alan  – (June 15, 2011 at 2:48 PM)  

I expect it will work fine, but keep these things in mind: 1) don't have too much leaf area 2) don't put the potted cutting in the sun! 3) keep the soil moist.

Once it gets some roots, you can move it into partial sun, then after a few days into the full sun again. I wouldn't plant in the garden until the plant puts on a few inches of growth though.

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