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Rooting Tomato Cuttings

Propagating plants in the garden is easy, and a cheap way to get free plants for your garden. Most of us only propagate ornamental plants, but edible plants, like tomatoes, can easily be rooted to make more plants. Rooting tomato cuttings is easy, and you're employing parts of your tomato plant that you would just toss if you are in the habit of pruning tomato plants.

How to root tomato cuttings

Propagate Tomato Sucker Cuttings

Here's a video of I made of rooting tomato cuttings that you can watch that will contain the same information as the post below.

Pruning tomato suckers

You may have heard of tomato pruning, or at least have read that it is recommended to prune tomato "suckers." Suckers are stems and branches that develop from the "crotch" of your tomato plants that's formed by the main stem and branches. You can see a little tomato sucker forming in the photo above. At this stage it's really easy to just snip off the sucker with your fingers. Suckers are removed so that the tomato can focus on producing fruits on select branches. If you let your sucker continue to develop it too will produce blooms and fruits.

Tomato cuttings

When a sucker gets to be about as thick as pencil you can cut it off with a clean knife or pair of pruning shears. After a few minutes of making your cut, your tomato cutting may start to wilt. Don't worry about it, it's sulking because it has been cut from it's water supply.

rooting tomato cuttings in water

Take your tomato cuttings and place them in a jar of water to root. Keep these cuttings somewhere bright, but out of direct sunlight. A windowsill works fine, as does a shady spot of your garden.

Tomato roots

After about a day you may notice that any tomato cuttings that were sulking have perked up. A week later you will start to notice roots developing and when the roots get longer than they are in this picture, it's time to plant your cuttings in the garden or in containers.

growing tomato cuttings

Here's a tomato cutting that began to produce fruits after I rooted the cuttings. If you've ever wanted to grow hydroponic tomatoes, taking and rooting cuttings from your tomato plants is a frugal way to get started because you don't have to buy tomatoes from your hydroponic supply store.

You may be wondering why you want to take tomato cuttings and root them. Well, they're free tomato plants, and they're grown from a part of the tomato you would normally toss and compost if you are the kind of gardener that likes to prune tomatoes. If you're a frugal gardener, you can make several tomato plants from just one plant you buy at the beginning of the season and have backups. Gardeners in Zones that allow them to grow tomatoes year-round can extend the life of their plant by taking cuttings early in the season and planting their second crop of tomatoes from plant they know did well in their garden.

Rooting tomato cuttings couldn't be any easier. Give it a try in your own edible garden. Do you propagate your own tomatoes from cuttings?


  1. Really interesting idea that I'm going to try this year with our tomatoes. I grow hydroponically in the winter so going to see how this goes - thank you!

  2. what a great tip^!!!!!
    With the climate here it is too late to try it this year, but I wille definetly do that next year!

  3. What a nice idea! I've cut some branches off my tomato plants earlier this season and one cutting actually rooted and is now giving fruits.

  4. I do this every year, I buy one tomato plant and then every three or four weeks I strike another one. Tomatoes all season.

  5. Fabulous idea that I will be trying...

  6. I like the way you thinking Mr. Brown Thumb! Great tip, I only wish I had a way to grow things through out the winter. But that will be the next challenge for my next home.

  7. Sooo much easier than the seed saving route! Great info!

  8. This is great! I will definitely be doing this with my tomatoes next year!

  9. Great article and pics. You inspired me to do this today with some of my heirlooms that are growing really well. Since I'm in Southern California, I might be able to sell some at school as a fundraiser for our new garden club. Thanks a bunch!

  10. LOVE this post, MBT! I have heirloom tomato seeds I got from an aunt who's passed away, and it's crucial that I grow and keep the line going. This will absolutely help!

  11. Recently I wrote a post about growing tomatoes, and i mentioned growing them from cuttings. Its very practical, especially for southern gardeners with our long growing season. I will update the post with a link to your institution s.

  12. Nice tip! I propagate from cuttings to spread out my harvest over a couple more months. It's easy and free. Plus, it's interesting to watch the roots grow :)

  13. I didn't even know you could do this. I'm so excited, I'm totally going to try this!

  14. We use root extract on most of our cloning projects, but I love how excited the kids and community feel when they learn you can grow so much food for free.

  15. Anonymous9:59 AM

    We live in Albuquerque (high desert), and even there I've found that if I take a sucker that's grown a bit and pop it off and stick it in the ground where it will get some water, it will grow just as well as the original. That's the lazy way (or overworked mom way) of doing it. Those suckers WANT to grow!



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