Getting something new out of something old is always satisfying, especially when it comes to tomato plants. After pruning your existing crop of its suckers, save some of them from the compost heap and start new plants with them!
It’s very easy to do. I learned about the technique in Growing Tomatoes: Your Guide to Growing Delicious Tomatoes at Home, written by Jason Johns.
Johns recommends using a side shoot or a sucker that has already grown to about four or five inches long. I used shoots that were slightly shorter than that, and it worked just as well.
The suckers you remove from the bottom of your existing plant are excellent choices for propagation because they’re closer to the plant’s energy source and are likely stronger candidates for new growth.
How It Works
When removing the suckers from your tomato plants, use a clean pair of pruners or pinch them off gently with your thumb and forefinger.
Remove the bottom few leaves from the shoot so that you have a good chunk of bare stem. After that, drop the stem into a glass of water and place in a sunny windowsill.
In his book, Johns suggests diluting tomato food into the glass; use one part food to ten parts water to help keep the shoot healthy and strong.
In less than a week, you’ll notice the stem has grown new roots. My tangled web was easy to spot in the glass of water.
Once the new roots have sprouted, transplant into a small pot with soil as you would a seedling.
Why It’s Cool
Regrowing tomato shoots is an inexpensive and innovative way to boost your yields throughout the growing season.
If you live in a warmer climate, you’ll get more late-season tomatoes. If you live in an area that gets frost, you can attempt to grow fruit despite the chilly temperatures in a sunny, warm windowsill.
Free tomato plants? Yes, please!