How to Clone Tomato Plants Right in the Garden

By now you certainly have heard about starting tomatoes from seed and how to save heirloom tomato seeds. But that’s just one way to propagate plants. Another faster way to propagate tomato plants is through vegetative cuttings. You can clone tomato plants right in your garden and you do not need a science lab to do it.

Why would you want to clone tomato plants now?

  1. Your kids are home all day during summer and you want an easy project for them.
  2. You are getting a greenhouse and want to try to overwinter your favorite tomato varieties.
  3. Summer storms regularly decimate your garden and you need backup plants.
  4. You live in a climate where summer is too hot to grow tomatoes so you plant them in winter.

How to clone tomato plants

Before you begin, make sure you are using a clean knife or a pair of garden pruners before pruning any of your tomato plants. Using clean garden tools when working with tomatoes will minimize the chances of you spreading diseases among your plants.

Choose a good-sized branch, stem or tomato sucker you want to take a cutting from. Maybe your dog broke off a branch, or your toddler accidentally broke off the top of your tomato plant. Whatever the case, I find that pieces that are at least as thick as my pinky finger root really easily. You can watch this video I made on watch this video I made on rooting tomato cuttings if you feel you need more detail.

tomato cutting

Do you need rooting hormone?

Every time I mention taking cuttings online someone chimes in with the suggestion to use rooting hormone. Yes, rooting hormones are great for a lot of reasons, but I have never needed rooting hormone to root tomato cuttings. Especially cuttings taken in the middle of summer when plants are actively growing.

tomato roots

How to root a tomato cutting

After you have taken your tomato cuttings, the next step in cloning your tomato is to set the cutting in a jar of water in a warm and sunny location like your windowsill. Within about five days you should start noticing a number of little bumps start to form and protrude out.

Once your cuttings reach about 2 inches, you can start transferring your tomato cuttings into individual pots and prepare them to either get potted up to larger pots, or planted in your raised garden beds.

It is easy to clone tomato plants to make backup plants for your garden, your family and your garden friends. Tomato stems, branches and suckers will easily root in water without the need for any rooting hormones or much human intervention. Simply place your cuttings in water (replace water as it gets murky) and transfer your cuttings into soil as they produce roots. Now that you know how to propagate tomatoes vegetatively, you should never be without excess tomato plants that you can plant or share.

You might also enjoy our posts on how to plant tomatoes in a raised bed and how to fertilize tomatoes.

What’s your favorite tomato variety to grow in your garden?

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