How to root tomato cuttings?

RustyJuly 22, 2012

I tried it last year & totally failed.

I've tried to find and read all the posts about it,

And now have questions.

I used Rootone on the cuttings last year.

From what I've read here,

That is a big 'no no'.

Why? ?

Is that why none of the cuttings took root?

I used regular Miracle Gro potting soil

In styrofoam cups

That I had punched drainage holes in.

I set them in a shady spot in the yard,

But the weather was very hot.

Would I have a better chance

If I brought them into the house?

Which would be best,

A sunny or shady spot?

Thanks for your help.


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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

They should be in a shady spot the first couple of days and the soil should be really moist. Start off with a 2-3 inch sucker works good .Longer ones equall higher failure .

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 12:44PM
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sweetquietplace(6 WNC Mtn.)

When I transplanted my Rutgers (with curlyleaf!) from a pot into the garden, I accidentally broke off the top 10-inches. I figured, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained", so I Root-Toned the stalk of the broken-off top and stuck it in the garden soil. Even with the curlyleaf, both bottom and top are growing well and full of fruit.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 1:34PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I did a search on rooting cuttings, search feature at the bottom of this page, and that b'c I knew there were many many threads here about that.

I chose just one that had 33 responses, from 2007 and linked to it below.

Hope that helps. And you'll see some user names you'll recogonize and those folks are still here and many others where the folks aren't still here.


Here is a link that might be useful: Rooting Cuttings

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 2:37PM
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There are 101 different ways to root a cutting, and that's why you see people debating so much over which way is best.

Basically, you need to maintain a medium that holds a certain balance of air and water to encourage root formation. Every different soil and medium will perform differently. Try experimenting with vermiculite and perlite. You can root a cutting in 100% of either, or any mixture of the two. The amount of water you want it to hold is also affected by how frequently you can water it. A tiny fountain pump set on a timer can save you a lot of work, and you can get by with a lighter media. Or you could fill plastic cups with a vermiculite/perlite mix, put holes in the bottom, and set them in an inch or so of water in a tray; the wicking action would keep it wet.

You can also try rooting cuttings directly in water or a very light nutrient solution. Some people make their own rooting hormone from the bark of weeping willow trees. Whatever you do, if you use water, aerate it somehow. You can blow bubbles in the water with an aquarium pump or circulate the water with a little fountain pump. But stagnant water will usually make the cutting rot and die. Some people can make stagnant water work by keeping enough peroxide in the water to kill the bad bacteria. I think it's easier to just aerate the water with a little pump.

And yes, high temps will stress the cutting. Inside would be better. They don't need a lot of light. A cutting can't undertake photosynthesis until it forms roots, so it will live by slowly digesting itself until the roots can form. The faster you get roots, the healthier of a cutting you will have.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 5:49PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I agree that there are many ways to root a tomato cutting but I sure wouldn't bother with vermiculite or perlite or peroxide, rooting in water much less aerating that water with some sort of pump, adding nutrients to water, circulating water, etc. etc.

Now if you happen to have some sort of a hydroponic growing system up and running which few do, and you want to go to all that detail, fine. But otherwise it just way over-complicates the process.

We operate a commercial greenhouse and root hundreds of tomato cuttings every year with almost 100% success rate since they are one of the easiest to do. No complex set up or fancy equipment required.

Rooting hormone doesn't hurt, it just doesn't help, isn't needed, so is an unnecessary expense. Rooting in water fails to develop feeder roots while rooting in any good potting mix quickly develops feeder roots and makes the cuttings ready to transplant faster with less transplant shock.

Any small container (old cell packs work fine) with drain holes filled with a well moistened sterile potting mix works. A 4-6" growth tip cutting - no leaf branches or bare stems - stuck deep into the dampened mix and lightly pressed into place and labeled works. Indoor temps are best - less stress and sun isn't needed for the first 3-4 days anyway. The cuttings will droop for 2-3 days, keep the soil lightly moistened until they perk up. Then they can be moved to the shade until ready to transplant.


PS: Please be sure to check out the link Carolyn posted as well as the many discussions here about how to do this as many contain pics we have posted in the past.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 11:23PM
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Out of curiosity Dave, how do you make sure that your cuttings are disease free? That's why I don't sell cuttings; I'm too afraid of that happening.

And in regard to selling plants, is it just faster to make a new plant with a cutting versus growing from seed? The cost of seed is insignificant, so time is the only advantage I can see.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 12:57PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

how do you make sure that your cuttings are disease free?

By only using cuttings from disease free plants - treated and/or disinfected seeds and treated plants. Any signs or symptoms means that plant is tossed. No cuttings from that plant.

is it just faster to make a new plant with a cutting versus growing from seed?

Substantially. 6 weeks minimum gained and when growing them for fall gardening plants that 6 weeks can make all the difference. And one healthy unpruned mother plant can yield 20-25 cuttings or more with care.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 1:38PM
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Thank you all for the replies.
And the link to the rooting cuttings thread.

I will be potting some cuttings
In the next day or so.
And will keep them in the house
Until they show signs of growth.

I'll let you all know how it works out.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 12:59AM
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Dave is correct as the simple and cost effective way, even though I have done hydroponics. Best to go from potting soil to soil or soilless mix. Perlite is good to use if you plan on planting in hydro or other hydro like inert medium such as perlite or coir. I'd add one thing, though, I prefer to put a tall dome on top for the first few days to keep the humidity up. I spray the dome to keep it moist inside to keep leaves from drying up. Make sure the soil is moist but not too wet or you'll get rotting issues. Leaves will start to turn yellow when they start to root. Soon you'll see new growth.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 2:33PM
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