Tomato Propogation by cuttings, an Experiment

HippeeLissJuly 9, 2012

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

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I'm going to assume you have read thru all the previous discussions here about how to do this and have elected for some reason to ignore many of the how-to tips given in those discussions? Things like size of the cutting, no terminal blooms, indeterminate varieties, no rooting in water, no hormones, etc. Not sure why you would but it is your choice of course and a good way to learn for yourself.

Good luck and have fun.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 7:09PM
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Wow Dave. I'm suprised that someone as SMART(ass) as yourself missed the KEY word in this post. Experiment. This is not a judgement forum. I'm assuming you read that? Thanks for all the helpful advice. I hope your glass house is as strong as your put downs.

For your information. I've done all of these methods before successfully.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 8:06PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Nothing judgmental just that this is nothing new to this forum. Rooting cuttings is a very common practice, an annual practice for many of us here and is easily done. Nothing complex about it. But I see now that you just joined today so you wouldn't know that unless you did a search first.

A great deal of time and effort has been spent on this forum teaching others how to do it and what not to do. Step-by-step photos have been included in many of the prior discussions just so that others don't have to waste time "experimenting" to discover how to do it.

I said the choice is yours but that doesn't mean I can't take issue with your posted methodology.

So I, for one, would strongly discourage anyone from wasting time and money using terminal cuttings, cuttings from anything but indeterminate varieties, using such large cuttings, using rooting hormones, and rooting in water. That all those variables will substantially reduce success rates is well documented.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 8:52PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

HL, I don't think that Dave's response to you was a put down at all.

All he was doing was pointing out that there are many many folks who have used vegetative propagation either for new plants, or in my case when a plant in the field had sustained damage, in which case I just broke off a lateral branch, stuck it in the soil next to the plant, made a wee moat around it and kept it full of water until I saw new growth.

And he was also saying that there are many many threads here about the way that folks do vegetative cuttings.

You did say it was an experiment for you, and then came back and said you've already used these meathods successfully, so I do think that Dave, as I did, read that it was an Experiment for you and only in a subesequent post came back and said you'd alrerady done it.

Carolyn, trying to be helpful in explaining the difference between your initial post, which Dave answered and then your subsequent post saying you'd already used the methods you called an Experiment. So no put down at all by Dave IMO/

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:04PM
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wow.. I had no idea I would have to justify everything I said on this forum. I've used these methods, more specifically on OTHER VARIETIES OF tomatoes, and have had luck with roses, watermelons, jalapenos, and bell peppers.

If you didn't see the sarcasm in his remarks about how he's assumed I've read each and every post on here about how to do this, and chose to ignore it, then I don't know what to say to you.

Thanks for the gang up. If you don't agree, then sarcasm is rarely an appreciated form of response. There was nothing constructive or positive in his response.

Do the two of you now feel as if I have justified myself and my postings to your satisfaction, or is there anything else I should know before posting in what I had mistakenly assumed was a forum for the general public?

What a great way to welcome someone to a forum for their first time.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:29PM
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And Dave,

Honestly I didn't realize that it was some sort of forum law that you had to post only an original idea that no one has ever tried or learned before. If that were the case, the many postings that you've made have been available knowledge elsewhere as well.

This was just a post for me to share with others that I knew, as we were working on a few different projects. I wasn't trying to teach anyone anything, and don't feel as if you should criticize. You came along and acted like I did something wrong by posting something that you or someone else already knew is petty and beneath your age. This is not some sort of formalized or educational forum only, with redundant information or an idea that is different from yours, to be sarcastically poo-poo'd. It is not your job to tell me how to post, and what I shouldn't post.

Didn't anyone ever tell you that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Wow, I'm just a lurker here but you seem to be full of yourself. Get back up on your soapbox if it makes you feel better Hell I'll listen.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:44PM
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I'm sorry you think so Tshia. I was just expressing how disappointed I was at those two bullying and telling people what to do. They came across to me as full of themselves too.

Don't worry ya'll, I won't post another dang thing.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 10:19PM
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Cuttings will actually root quite well using many different methods. (Although the cutting in water would do better with some aeration, either from an air or a water pump.) There are a lot of different hydroponic machines sold that will root cuttings, and they use several different methods, depending upon how much money you want to spend.

In regard to medium, you could use vermiculite, perlite, hydroton clay pebbles, gravel, moist soil or compost, rockwool, coco coir, or the new white synthetic rockwool called 'sure to grow.' Heck, an old sock or some paper towels would work in theory, as long as you kept it moist.

Or you could use no medium at all. You need an air pump, or a small water pump, or a big one, or a really big one for high-pressure aeroponics. Or you could use one of the new ultra sonic foggers.

And then of course most of these variables can be mixed and matched. You can also play around with temperature, nutrient solution, hormone or not, and a lot of other little things.

The biggest reason to not propagate from cuttings is the risk of spreading disease. Commercially, there is just too much risk to justify it, which is why you don't really see many cloned tomatoes. If you want to pay for an expensive cloning machine, you would do better with something like Japanese Maples, because they are so highly valuable. Trees that do not produce well from seed like the Japanese Maple are typically propagated from cuttings.

Personally, grafting is what interests me the most right now. Next year, I think I want to graft everything to eggplant roots. Gardening is a journey for all of us, and I wish you the best in yours.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 11:27PM
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Need2SeeGreen(10 (SoCal))

I hope everyone can make friends again. I would just note, as a bystander here, that it is quite common for men and women to have different interpretations of emails, imho. So what one person means when they post is not necessarily what the other person will perceive when they read it. You can't hear the person's tone of voice, for one thing.

What might be nice would be a link to a Cloning or Vegetative Propagation thread in the FAQs on this forum. I don't believe there is one now (unless I looked in the wrong place?)

Otherwise, it can be easy to search under the wrong words, and miss the best threads. Happens to me all the time. I did better just now with "cloning," than with "vegetative," but I'm sure I may have missed some good threads.

Who do we ask about making a FAQ on cloning?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 3:37PM
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I'd agree with what Carolyn said, Dave wasn't putting you down. And what he said is very true. He also wished you good luck and to have fun in learning experience.
Not sure why you (IMO) overreacted about all this. Don't let this heat get the best of you.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 4:21PM
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I was working with some tomatoes and accidently broke off a healthy looking branch from a Celebrity tomato. I thought what the heck, I dug a hole and planted the tomato branch and watered it well. I had no idea if it would root or not but it did and is now bearing fruit! A couple of tomatoes plants died so I cut a few more branches from a healthy plant and they "took" as well--no coddling or anything, except to water every day we didn't have rain.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 7:24PM
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