October 12, 2015

Perennial Tomatoes, Year Five



For the past four years I've been taking cuttings of my tomato plants and trying to keep them alive over the winter. I call them perennial tomatoes because they are parts of the same adult plants, not a second generation.


I had two successful years where the cuttings survived, and I planted them in the spring and they grew and produced, but the past two years the cuttings have died shortly after I brought them inside. Last year I think the culprit was spider mites.

This year I took cuttings early, so that if I have problems I'll have time to get some more before frost kills the tomato plants in my garden.

First I found a sucker on one of the Cherokee purple plants. This was the first year I've grown this variety and I didn't get to taste even one - we had not-good-for-tomato-growing weather this summer. I also took one cutting from one of the Juliet plants, a hybrid. Now that the weather has cooled off there are half a dozen long green tomatoes on this plant. I also took three cuttings from my one and only Arkansas Traveler plant.


I set them in clear plastic cups with an inch or so of filtered water inside, so that the cuttings could grow roots.


In the past, I've left the cuttings in water for most of the winter, planting them when the roots were so long and thick that I had no alternative. This year I'm planting them in soil as soon as they have roots. I used plastic cups from the grocery store with holes punched in the bottom with a knife, and half-filled with potting soil.


The Oklahoma weather was crazy this year. As of October first I'd had exactly three red tomatoes and two handfuls of yellow pear tomatoes. Even the canning entries at our county fair were low this year because no one had a garden bounty of anything can-able. But gardeners are optimists; we hope that next year will be better, right?


We'll see how it goes. I hope I'll be successful in keeping these cuttings alive over the winter. I know it can be done: I was successful the first two years I did this. Wish me luck.


Read about the experiment here:
Part 1 - Perennial Tomatoes 
Part 2 - Update #1, Spring
Part 3 - Update #2, Year Two
Part 4 - How to Take Tomato Cuttings

Perennial Tomatoes, Year Four




This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

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22 comments:

  1. Best of luck, Kathi! I took some cuttings a few weeks ago to root and plant in the greenhouse for the winter. They all promptly died. I think it's some kind of wilt because there weren't any bugs. Ever since I read your article about this technique, I've tried it, but haven't been successful yet. I'll try one more time before frost and keep my fingers crossed. I'll be watching to see how yours turn out.

    Fern

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  2. Good luck, Fern. It's frustrating, because it worked the first two years I tried it, but since then my cuttings have promptly died. Wilt sounds very probable - that's exactly what they do. Maybe we need to try a wilt-resistant variety in particular.

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  3. Anonymous9:03 AM

    The roots of plants formed in water are structurally different than the roots formed in soil. When you allow a plant to form roots in water and later plant it in soil, the water-formed roots are not as efficient as soil-formed roots, and until the plant grows new roots in the soil no growth will take place.

    Plant disease free cuttings directly into moist soil and cover with plastic to create a mini-green house. I plant cuttings into pots, and put a clear plastic bag under the pot and pull it up over the plant so that the opening in the bag is above the leaves. I don't close the bag tightly so that too much moisture doesn't build up.
    You can take the plastic bag off when the plant has rooted, which you can determine by pulling gently on the cutting. A rooted plant won't pull up.

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  4. North Central Ar. yep, to wet and cool in spring, I had blight, mold, etc. I've over winter whole plants in the greenhouse, lost my yellow from the blight. Once my cutting roots, I cover half the stem with soil, each time I transfer into larger pot I do the same. Will make a stronger plant.

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  5. Without a greenhouse I'm limited by the number of windows that face the right direction and that the cats can't reach. Whole plants would take up too much room, but I'm very glad to know that you've done this successfully with cuttings too. I plan to do the same as you: repot them deeper each time. Thank you for the encouragement, Toe Dancer.

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  6. I don't know about wilt resistant varieties, Kathi, I've heard of them, but plan on sticking with Arkansas Travelers and Rutgers. They do very well here (outside), taste great and make good salsa and sauce. I'll just keep trying, or save seed and continue to grow our seedlings.

    Fern

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  7. Rutgers is the variety I've had the most success with, Fern. It does well in my garden too, although the Arkansas Traveler isn't anything to write home about, as far as my garden is concerned.

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  8. Yes, we always hope for the best! It would be interesting to try different variables and see which does the best. I've pretty much given up on growing tomatoes. They are quite difficult to master here in Central Florida. I hope yours do well all winter long! Thanks for stopping by The Maple Hill Hop!

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  9. No tomatoes, Daisy? That's so sad.

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  10. Great work Kathi! I didn't get mine in early enough this year and I'm kicking myself for it now. Yours look good and healthy.

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    Replies
    1. I'm sorry you didn't get it done early enough this year, Deborah. I need to remind people earlier; I forget that fall comes late to Oklahoma.

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    2. I'm sorry you didn't get it done early enough this year, Deborah. I need to remind people earlier; I forget that fall comes late to Oklahoma.

      Delete
  11. I had no idea you could grow tomato plants from cuttings. And keeping them alive all winter? Well, this is definitely intriguing to me. Thanks for sharing at My Flagstaff Home!

    Jennifer

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  12. Jennifer, tomatoes are very easy to grow from cuttings, and if you accidentally knock off a branch of a plant, you can plant it and grow another. It's a quick and free way to have more tomato plants.

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  13. I was so interested to read this post, Kathi! I did not know you could grow tomato plants from cuttings. It's amazing you have kept them going like this for 5 years! Thank you so much for sharing this helpful tutorial with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.

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  14. Tomatoes are easy to grow from cuttings, April. Just break off a stem and stick it in the ground, and you'll have another tomato plant. For fun, stick it in a glass of water and watch it root.

    I managed to keep my cuttings alive the first two winters I did this, but lost them the third and fourth year. This year they are going strong and I'm hopeful they'll make it through till spring.

    If you grow a lot of tomato plants, it's probably impractical to try to keep that many alive all winter, but it gives you a jump on the season in the spring. Big healthy plants like this will cost you dearly at the nursery. I always grow more from seed every year too.

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  15. Hi again, Kathi! Just wanted to let you know I'm featuring this post at this week's Hearth and Soul Hop later today. Have a lovely week.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, April!

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  16. I still have one tomatoe plant left. I tried to root from it once with no luck. I will give it another try. Vegetable plants are getting so expensive. Thanks for sharing your perennial tomatoe (-;

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    Replies
    1. You're right, Linda, transplants are so expensive, and stores don't carry a big variety.

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  17. Stacey in Georgia2:24 PM

    I can't wait to find out how your perennial tomatoes do this year! I am definitely going to try it this year. I love your site! So glad I found it :))

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found us too, Stacey! Only one cutting survived this winter, an Arkansas Traveler. Some years I'm successful and other years I'm not, but it doesn't cost anything to try...

      Delete

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