How Long Does It Take To Root Tomato Cuttings?
Tomato plants are perennials. They do not have a set time of growth, but they grow at different rates depending on their environment. For example, if you plant them in soil with good drainage, then they will grow faster than if planted in water or clay soils. Also, tomato plants need to be fertilized every now and then to keep them healthy and vigorous. The best way to ensure that your tomato plants will thrive is to provide them with the right conditions. If you want your tomatoes to grow fast, then you need to give them plenty of light. You can use artificial lighting such as fluorescent tubes or LED lights. These bulbs produce lots of light which helps your plants grow quickly. However, they don’t last forever so make sure that you replace these bulbs regularly because they may eventually burn out completely!
The other thing you need to consider when growing tomatoes is the type of soil that you’re using. Some types of soil are better for growing tomatoes than others. Soil that’s too loose will cause your plants to wilt easily, while soil that’s too compacted will prevent your plants from getting enough air circulation. A mixture of both types of soils is usually best since it provides the optimum combination of moisture retention and aeration.
Overwintering Tomato Cuttings
Cuttings are easy to take and root. All you need is a healthy, unsprayed tomato cutting of an old variety that you like, a plastic milk bottle and some water. Cut the stem of the plant diagonally at a point where there are at least two sets of nodes (these are the areas where the leaves are). This cutting should have at least four leaves and a healthy appearance. Remove the bottom two leaves and dip the cut end into a rooting hormone.
Cut across one side of a clean, plastic milk bottle – about four inches from the bottom. Push the cut end of your tomato cutting into the lined gap, with the top node just below the top of the container. If you have rooted more than one cutting, space them well apart (four or five inches) to allow for development and watering. Fill the container with compost and potting soil (or use a 50:50 mixture of both) and firm the surface. Add water and label.
Place in a warm, sunny position.
Watering is very important. The number one killer of cuttings is either over-watering or underwatering. Make sure you don’t add too much water, but do keep an eye on the cuttings every day or so. Add water until it begins dripping through the bottom, then wait until it has almost dried out, before adding a tiny bit more. You can use an all-purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer but don’t add any for the first two or three weeks.
You should see the first signs of roots within six to eight weeks. When you do, transplant your cutting into a bigger pot or into the garden (if hardening off went well).
Stem butts are easy to root. Cut a five to eight inch length of stem (with at least two nodes) and remove the lowest set of leaves. Prepare and pot it as above.
You can even use the side shoots that grow out of the main stem if these are removed before the growing point has touched the ground. Again, dip the lower end in rooting hormone and pot in the same way.
Use a wooden skewer to poke several 1cm holes in the bottom of an empty plastic milk or soft drink bottle. Place pieces of broken pots, rocks, clods or shards of terracotta to give plenty of drainage. Add a little balanced fertilizer or some dried grass clippings and then fill with tepid water. Dip your cutting in rooting hormone and slide the lower end into the bottle. Place in a propagator, or a warm, sunny spot until the roots begin to form.
When they’re well established, transplant into pots or the garden.
You can also root cuttings using only sand and water – this is especially useful if you want to incubate a lot of cuttings at the same time. Again, pot up your cuttings as soon as possible and keep them in a warm, sunny position.
Some home gardeners use coffee grounds to root tomato cuttings. This is a technique more used in hanging baskets or other container plants because the grounds eventually make their way into the surrounding soil (which is why you need to repot annually). It doesn’t give the best results when attempting to root large numbers of cuttings although it can be effective with just a few cuttings.
The idea is to fill a bucket three quarters full of water and then stir in about three or four cups of used coffee grounds. Add your cuttings and keep the mix just moistened (but not dripping). The cuttings can be left in here for up to a month before planting out, though they will eventually become pot-bound and start putting down roots faster if you transplant them into pots or punnets after about 10 days.
Once the soil around the base of your tomato plant has started to dry out, it’s time to give it a drink. Don’t water just from the top though as this can cause diseases to develop. Instead, sink your watering can right down to the base of the plant and give it a good drench. This will ensure that the roots are getting enough moisture. Make sure to water the whole plant and be careful not to over-water.
Never water a plant in full sun as this can cause the roots to rot and kill your tomato plants.
You need to make sure that your plants are getting enough nutrients. You can either buy a ready-made tomato plant food from the local garden centre or mix your own. If you decide to make your own, use fish, blood and bone fertilizer or a general purpose fertilizer such as growmore.
Take a handful of each ingredient and add it to one litre of water. Stir well and pour the mixture into a watering can. Water the base of your plant well with this mixture every ten days.
Tomatoes are pretty hungry plants so feed them at least once a month until they start producing fruit and then feed them once every two weeks.
Now that your tomato plant is growing well and putting on healthy foliage you need to think about the fruit.
You can allow the fruits to develop on the plant or you can pick them and allow them to ripen off the vine. If you want to grow fruits, then you will need to prune your plants. This involves cutting out any shoots that are growing from the main stem. This forces more energy into the flowers and fruit that remain.
You need to be careful when pruning your plant because if you cut out too many of the flowers it will have a negative effect on the fruit yield.
Your best bet is to allow some of the shoots to develop a few leaves and then prune them back to the stem. This allows enough sun onto the plant to encourage fruit set. Remember though that each time you do this you are stressing the plant a little so don’t overdo it!
Sources & references used in this article:
Oxygen requirements for root growth of cuttings in water by PW Zimmerman – American Journal of Botany, 1930 – JSTOR
Growth of tomato cuttings in relation to stored carbohydrate and nitrogenous compounds by ME Reid – American Journal of Botany, 1926 – JSTOR
Quantitative relations of carbohydrates to nitrogen in determining growth responses in tomato cuttings by ME Reid – Botanical Gazette, 1924 – journals.uchicago.edu
Interactions of the tomato with two formae speciales of Fusarium oxysporum by AL Schrader – Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci, 1924
Biostimulant action of a plant-derived protein hydrolysate produced through enzymatic hydrolysis by FA Langton – Annals of Applied Biology, 1968 – Wiley Online Library