Tomato Propogation by cuttings, an Experiment
July 9, 2012
Weather: OKC, OK. Historically dry, so far this summer. Today: Mostly sunny, 50% chance of isolated thunderstorms (Lord, we can only hope.)
high 95 degrees. Low 74.
Today's experiment is Tomato propagation from cuttings. This will create a clone, a perfect replica of the original, or host, plant. There are several methods to accomplishing this, and many reasons for doing so. Starting a new plant from a cutting puts you anywhere from 2-6 weeks ahead of schedule versus starting from seed. Another reason you might to do this, is that a hybridized plant may produce undesired, or unpredictable results when starting new plants from its seed. You will get any combination of the two unique parent plants, but only rarely another hybrid. Cuttings ensure that you are getting the same plant you started with. Here are the fruits of the plants I'm cloning.
I chose two of my favorite tomatoes.
One was a large grape tomato, chosen for its prolific nature. Its about 4 feet tall, quite viney, despite pruning, and looks like hell. :-)
It started bearing fruit about two or three weeks ago, and then went batshitcrazy last week. I'm getting about ten per day from this plant alone. Though it is susceptible to the intense heat we have here in Oklahoma, its been sun burnt, wilted, droughted, and as usual, spider mites have declared war. Yet still, it's fighting the good fight. God love 'em. I'm impressed, and I'd like to see what she can do when setting fruit in September when it's not 95+ degrees per day!
The second tomato, a Celebrity variety, I chose because it is the healthiest looking plant I have in the garden. She's part sun, part shade, and doing fantastically, with not a withered leaf one. She has about twenty five apple-sized tomatoes on her now, and is tolerating the heat like a champion. Celebrity has the best looking foliage in the vegetable garden, so she'll be getting a second chance as well.
The two methods I chose were rooting the cuttings in water, as well as potting medium with rooting hormone.
The Celebrity will be in the water solution. I used filtered water, to remove as much of the chlorine, lead, metals, ect from city water as possible, getting as close to natural water as I could. Rain water would have been ideal, but as we all know in the MidWest, that's something thats not always lying around.
I stired in about 1/3 tsp of rooting hormone into about 20 oz. filtered water in an old pickle jar, and went to retrieve my first specimen. Local lore suggests that you would want to take a cutting that looks healthy, and either has produced a bloom, or is beginning to. I chose one that had a bloom that was not fortunate enough to move to the next stage of fruit production.
The length should be more than eight inches, so I chose one about 14" long. Removing any shoots or leaves at the bottom to ensure it is the stem only in the water, I used a sharp pair of scissors, cut at an angle, and plopped it directly into the water. Because the weather is hot, and inhospitable for a plant that is fighting for life, I will leave it inside, at room temperature under a florescent light for a few days. Gauging the reaction before moving to a sunny window, and evenually back outside.
The Grape Prolific is getting a potted home in rich organic soil. The method here is also to use rooting hormone, but in the more traditional fashion. First, select your sample cutting. Again, I chose one about 16" long, with a stem at least 1/4 in diameter, as this will become the new main stalk. Since the host plant is all but finished for the year, I took a bit more off this plant, than the other, as seen here. Cut with a sharp knife or scissors, do NOT tear the plant. If it does tear or peel, cut again above that spot, so that the cut is clean and straight. Dampen the stem in water, so that the hormone powder has something to "stick" to. Swirling it around in the powder, I chose to apply the hormone to the bottom 6 inches of the plant, as this was the depth I planted it.
Right into the potting soil, lightly water, and we wait!
Note, you should keep the plants in nearly the same conditions it is in now. Keep the potting soil moist, but not wet, for the first week. This will help minimize the shock of the cutting. If you notice any darkening, further cloudiness, or a foul smell from the water, dump it and refill again. Keeping the water fresh reduces bacteria, which will cause the plant to decompose- the opposite of what we're going for. I plan to recycle the water at least every 2 days, to prevent build up.
So, now, we wait. Let the Games begin!
Dont overthink it... your plants WILL wither. The ones planted in potting soil will wilt within 20 or 30 minutes. Much sooner than the ones in water. It is totally normal, and they will recover.
Posted by Melissa Tanner at 1:55 PM