Rooting a Tomato Stem in Water

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If you love the taste of a a garden tomato, but the production season seems too short, produce a second crop of tomatoes by rooting clippings from your existing plants. Not only will this prolong the harvest, but you are guaranteed high-quality plants by growing clones of the healthy tomatoes already in your garden.

Taking a Cutting

  • Remove a healthy 6-inch sucker from an existing tomato plant using clean, sharp pruners or by pinching the sucker at the base. The sucker grows at the joint between the main stem and a branch. If left on the plant, these suckers will not produce fruit, so do not worry about losing future tomatoes. Several suckers can be removed from one plant without causing stress, but you should not leave too many open wounds on one plant. It is better to remove a few suckers each from several plants to ensure a healthy crop of tomatoes.

Growing Roots

  • Place the removed suckers in a glass of tap water or saved rainwater in a sunny windowsill indoors and wait for the roots to emerge. Cover at least one-half of the stem with water, up to one-third. Within one week, tiny white buds will appear on the section of plant submerged in water. In 2 to 3 weeks, roots will reach about 1 inch long. Change the water if it begins to look murky or brown. Water soluble fertilizer can be added at any time to boost growth, but is not necessary.

Hardening Off

  • Once the roots are at least 1 inch long, the plant can be transferred to soil to begin hardening off -- the process of acclimating plants from indoor temperatures to the outdoors. It takes about 2 weeks to get plants acclimated to the outside. This is done by increasing their exposure to sun, wind and rain gradually a little bit each day. Place the seedling outdoors one hour the first day, two hours the second, and so on until it is outdoors all day and all night. As you harden off, slowly reduce the amount of water the plant receives, encouraging root growth.

Transplanting in the Garden

  • Once the plant is hardened off, it can be transplanted into its permanent place in the garden. Place the tomato plant in a deep hole, burying it up to the top two leaves. Top dress with fertilizer or compost and water well.

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