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Perennial Tomatoes, Year Four

How to turn your favorite tomato into a perennial.

For the fourth year in a row I'm hoping to have perennial tomatoes. Well, more correctly they are tomato clones, I think, because it isn't really the original plant. Instead, I've been taking cuttings of my plants in the fall and keeping them alive over the winter - hopefully - and planting them again in the spring.

My perennial tomato experiment, year four.

Tomatoes are so easy to grow from cuttings. Just cut off a piece, stick it in a glass of water and wait awhile. Before long there will be little white roots. You can plant that rooted cutting in a pot or in the ground and it will grow into a big plant. Sometimes I've accidently knocked a branch off a plant, or cut one by accident while pruning, but it's a blessing in disguise because it just becomes an additional plant in my garden.

My perennial tomato experiment, year four.

For many years I wondered if I could keep some cuttings alive over the winter in order to plant them in the spring. Three years ago I finally remembered in time to try it, before the first frost hit. Most of the cuttings did make it to spring, and thrived in the garden to produce just like any other plant. I did it again the next winter, so that spring some of my plants were third generation. Last year, the third year, my cuttings died shortly after I brought them inside. This year I'm trying again.

My perennial tomato experiment, year four.

Our first frost was November 1st. In the afternoon of October 31st I cut a dozen branches from the still-thriving Arkansas Traveler plant growing in a tub in my front yard, and another half dozen from the mortgage lifter plants in the garden. Each cutting is about ten inches long. I removed the leaves from the bottom of each one.

My perennial tomato experiment, year four.

I stuck them in glass jars, six to a jar, and used filtered water this time. I'm not sure why my cuttings died last year, but this was the only thing I could change: using filtered water instead of tap water. Hopefully I won't have to use filtered water all winter long, but I'd like to be sure these have a good start before switching. (I let the tap water sit in an open jar overnight to allow the chlorine to dissipate before using it on my plants, but maybe we had heavily-chlorinated water that year.)

They'll live on my kitchen windowsill over the winter. If all goes well this time, I'll pot them up in January or so, and have nice big transplants in the spring. I'll grow other varieties from seed as usual - I could never over-winter enough plants for my needs - but this will give me a jump on the season. These large, strong transplants are ready to go into the garden as early as the weather allows.

You can read about each year's experiment here:
Part 1 - 10/10/12 
Part 2 - Update #1, Spring
Part 3 - Update #2, Year Two
Part 4 - How to Take Tomato Cuttings
Part 5 - Perennial Tomatoes: Year Four (This post)
Part 6 - Perennial Tomatoes: Year Five

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


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  1. That is very interesting Kathy!!
    I had not idea!

  2. Sandra, give it a try - I'm guessing you've probably already lost your tomatoes to frost by now, but try it next year.

  3. Very interesting, Kathi! Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading about this.

  4. You're welcome, Beth. If it isn't too late in your year, I hope you'll try it, and let me know how it goes.

  5. How clever! I never knew you could do this with tomatoes!! Thank you for sharing your helpful tips on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. I will be pinning this!

  6. Jes, thank you for the Pin, and for hosting the hop, I really enjoy visiting each week.

  7. How much do I love this idea! Gotta try this! Thanks for sharing on The Maple Hill Hop!

  8. Can't wait to try this next year!

  9. I'll try to remind you earlier next year, Nancy.

  10. THat's pretty amazing. I have such a problem with my tomatoes getting diseases, even the disease resistant varieties, so I can't do this just yet. When I finally grow a plant that resists all disease, I will be cutting it for future generations like it's my job!!

  11. Sparkling, I hope you can find a truly disease-resistant tomato soon. Are you planting them in different places each year?

  12. This is great, my tomato plant died from our early frost but I will remember this for next year! Thanks for sharing at our Homestead Blog Hop, hope to see you there again this week!

  13. I've followed you doing this for a couple of years and it's so fun to see you doing something that most people think is impossible. So inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday; hope to see you again this week!

  14. Aww, thank you, Angi, that made my day. I hope you'll give it a try someday. Texas must be even more challenging to gardeners than Oklahoma is.

  15. Anonymous1:51 PM

    Can you do this with hot pepper plant cuttings?

    1. I haven't tried it with pepper plant cuttings. I hope you will give it a try and let me know.


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