Tomato Plants from Suckers

pastoralistJuly 24, 2010

I need some information on the best way to start tomato plants from suckers. I've read somewhere that you can also start pepper plants in much the same way. Can it be done in this heat that we've been having? Any help is appreciated and thanks in advance.

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I've never done it so can't give any concrete advice. Sure Dawn and others have and will be along with better advice.

I will tell you my experience from moving volunteers and transplanting in the heat. I've had good results doing it. And have lots of experience doing it. I moved 2 volunteer plants during the heat and both are looking good. Both small and by themselves. So moved a huge shovel full of dirt and then mulched heavy, shaded them and watered well for several days. The best way I've found is like I did a bunch of 5 plants I had. I dug them up. Potted each plant in an 18 ounce cup with potting soil and kept in a cool spot in the shade for several days. Then gradually moved them back into the sun for longer periods of time each day after around 4 days. Today is 2 weeks and with the cool spell will transplant them to the garden. Would of Thursday evening but with the cool spell coming decided to wait. In my opinion you would need to start them either in doors( probably best) or in a real cool spot out of the sun for a while. Transplanting in the heat has risks. And I feel rooting suckers or stems and starting them would even be harder in the heat. So would be best done inside in cooler conditions. Will be interested to read the opinions of those who have done it and have more knowledge of it. Jay

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 10:43AM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

I have had zero luck rooting suckers or cuttings, even with rooting powder.

I have tried at least 20 this year.

I'm starting to think I have a black thumb.

I wonder if keeping them in a dark spot until they root would help? No idea. I need advice too.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 1:03PM
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I've done it successfully. I take a long sucker, something like 2' long, use a breaker bar, or in soft soil, a broom handle, and make a deep hole. Drop that sucker in there, leaving only the top couple of inches sticking out, fill the hole with water and then push it in on the sucker. Put something over the top, for a day or two, to only allow filtered sunlight through. Usually the sucker will root and start growing within a week or so. Actually, I believe it starts growing roots a lot sooner than it starts growing. It doesn't hurt to water the cutting during this time.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 2:31PM
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Thanks for the information. I figured in this hot weather you would have to root them inside or in the house. Like I said I did move a few volunteers directly with good results but didn't know if you could sucker with no roots. Always good to know. I figured you, Dawn and a few others probably had. Usually the only reason I pull one is disease so haven't tried to root one. Jay

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 4:15PM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

George, when you say to put something over the top, do you mean like a sheet or something? A clear cup? What do you use? Thanks,


    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 7:18PM
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I have had the same experience as George except I don't think mine were that big. I had a little hoop house and wanted to keep tomatoes going as long into the fall/winter as I could in southern Oklahoma. I broke off pieces and stuck them down into a raised bed inside the hoop house, but the temps were much cooler at the time. I kept the bed damp for about a week or so until I could see the center of the plant getting that dark green color that lets you know it is getting nourishment. I didn't put anything on the roots.

If I were doing it this time of year, I would make sure it was shaded until it established roots.

During the middle of the day today, I pulled some cherry tomatoes from a vine that was hanging down low so the tomatoes were just above the ground. I ate some and gave DH some and they were like eating stewed tomatoes. They were tomato soup eating temperture. I am surprised anything can grow under these conditions.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 8:05PM
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I think there is too much of a drastic change in temps to move them into the house after having been out in the heat, Jay. What I have done to root mine is to cut a good stem at least a foot or more, and put the cutting in a tall jar or pitcher of water on the porch, if you have one, or a shady area. Roots develop rather quickly. Remove all of the foliage that would be under water when you do this, because otherwise the leaves in water will rot and can cause the entire sucker or stem to rot along with them. I usually have at least 2 nodes under water, if not more. Day long shade, and then harden off as Jay suggests. I don't use any rooting hormone when rooting in water. You don't want too much leaf growth on the stem above water either. The best cuttings that have rooted for me were when I was plopping them in a gallon of water and covering it with plastic, then poking a hole thru the plastic wrap for the stem. I fed my tomato and tobacco hornworms this way, and they would eat all the foliage, but the stems would root. So, minimal foliage cuz you want the plant's energy to go into forming roots.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 8:11PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I have rooted them every which the ground, in the house in water, in the house in potting soil and on the screened-in back porch in water and in potting soil. When I root them in the house or on the back porch in cups, I use a 4 to 6" cutting. You'll have roots in a week or two. With water, as soon as there is any root at all, I move them to paper cups filled with potting soil. If I root them indoors, I move them to the back porch as soon as I know I have roots. Depending on where I put them on the back porch, they can receive from 0 hours of direct sunlight to about 5 or 6 hours of direct sunlight. I only leave them on the back porch a couple of days and generally put them in as much sun as they can get there as long as air temperatures are below 100 degrees. If the air temps are over 100 degrees, I'll have them in only 3 or 4 hours of direct sun. When I transplant them out to the garden, I water them well and check them daily for the first couple of weeks to make sure their then-smallish root systems don't get too dry. You'll be amazed how fast cutting-grown plants start flowering and fruiting.

I have a hard time starting them in the ground in my hot, dry climate, and likely it is either the heat or that I let them get too dry.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 12:05AM
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