How to Grow Tomato Plants from Cuttings (and Double the Plants in Your Garden)

A young Snow White tomato plant growing in the garden.

Tomato plants are easy to root from cuttings as well as from suckers. You can easily double the number of tomato plants in your garden using this method. Learn how to identify tomato suckers, and how to propagate tomatoes from cuttings

How to grow tomato plants from cuttings

Last updated in April 2024

Of all the vegetable plants I could grow, tomatoes are my absolute favorite. 

Yes, I know tomatoes are actually a fruit, but everyone refers to them as vegetables. And they grow in the vegetable garden, so that's good enough for me.

I've never met a tomato I didn't like. Unless it came from the grocery store. Or at a restaurant in the deep of winter. Vine-ripened, fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes are the best!

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Why I love growing tomatoes

The first vegetable I ever grew as a child was carrots, but after that I grew tomatoes. Dad dug up a strip of the back yard one year, added a one-foot-high picket fence to keep our pet tortoise out (he loved tomatoes too), and we planted cherry tomatoes and nasturtiums. 

Dad and I loved tomatoes, and summer evenings often found us in the little garden watering our plants and eating ripe cherry tomatoes right off the vine.

Dad taught me that too much water will result in beautiful tomato plants but few tomatoes. 

Six cherry tomatoes in a woman's hand

Anyway, I still eat cherry tomatoes while standing in the garden, just like Dad and I did so many years ago, no salt shaker required. 

The larger tomatoes are saved for meals, but very few of the cherry tomatoes actually make it to the kitchen. 

Click here for your free Tomato Tips cheatsheet so you can grow incredible tomatoes!

Why you might need more tomato plants

I usually plant several different varieties of tomatoes. Some years I'm more successful at starting seeds, and other years I don't have as many plants as I'd like.

Last year my transplants were just about ready to plant when we were hit by a tornado, which tossed my potted seedlings all over the neighborhood. 

My daughter-in-law and I were able to find some of them, without their pots, hiding under piles of debris. I repotted them and when it was time they went into the ground. 

But it was a small number compared to how many seedlings I'd had, and I wanted more plants. I took cuttings and ended up with almost as many plants as I usually grow.

Another year my seedlings were ready to transplant to the garden when spring break arrived and I traveled to visit my grandchildren in another state. I left my hardened-off seedlings on a bench in the front yard while I was gone. 

We had a late killing freeze that lasted two days, and although hubby covered them with upside-down pots, the cold was too intense and my tomato plants all died.

Everybody else in the area had the same problem and they all went shopping and bought replacement plants, except me because I was out of town. 

I did eventually find a few plants of various kinds but not as many as I usually plant. So I took some cuttings and doubled the number of tomato plants in my garden for free.

Tomatoes are easy to grow and it's easy to root new plants

Did you know you can grow tomato plants from cuttings? And how easy it is to have twice as many tomato plants? Tomatoes are, I think, the easiest plant in the vegetable garden to propagate.

Disclaimer: I don't grow determinate varieties of tomato plants, so I have only done this with indeterminate types. Your mileage may vary if you use a determinate variety. 

You'll find this information (whether a plant is determinate or indeterminate) on the seed packet or on the tag when you buy your transplants. Learn the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties here.

Taking cuttings from tomato plants

Growing tomatoes from cuttings is easy, and taking cuttings from tomato plants is also easy.

Wait until your plants have several sets of leaves and are of good size. You can simply cut the top off of your plant, but be sure that the bottom part (the half with the roots) still has leaves!

If your plants are large enough to have branches, you can remove a branch and root it.

Or you can remove the suckers from your plants and root those - read on to find out how.

Tomato experts say that it's a good idea to remove any side branches and all suckers from your indeterminate tomato plants anyway. If you're pruning your plants, why not root what you've pruned off?

How to find suckers on tomato plants

The trickiest part is finding the suckers on your tomato plants. And that really isn't hard either.

Look at your tomato plants near the top, where two branches form a fork. Look for a third stem, one that comes out of the middle of that "fork." 

That new branch in the middle is a sucker.

A tomato plant with blossoms. A "sucker" growing in the fork of two branches is identified with an arrow.

Many tomato growers will tell you to remove the suckers, saying that pruning your tomato plants in this way will give you more tomatoes.

If you're cutting the suckers off anyway, instead of throwing them away let's root them, plant them, and have a few more plants. Now that's how you get more delicious tomatoes!

Cut off the suckers

Once you've identified a sucker, cut it off with pruners or pinch it with your fingernails. A sucker about four inches or more in length is a good size. Remove the lower set of leaves, leaving two sets at the top.

A woman's hand holding a sucker removed from a tomato plant. The lower leaves have been removed from this tomato branch.

The sucker in the photo has a leaf node on the stem, but it isn't necessary for your cutting to have one. In fact, I cut the stem above the leaf node after taking this photo, because it was longer than I needed it to be. 

New roots will grow from the tiny hairs on the stem.

Click here for a free Tomato Tips cheatsheet so you can grow incredible tomatoes!

Rooting tomato cuttings in water

Just stick the suckers in a glass of water to grow new roots. It will take about a week, more or less.

Several new roots growing from a tomato cutting

Plant your new tomato plants

When the cuttings or suckers grow roots, plant them in the ground. Keep them well-watered until the roots have become established.

Three plastic cups with soil and rooted tomato plants growing in them.

Or root them in the dirt

If you prefer you can stick the tomato cuttings or suckers in small pots (I use plastic cups with a hole punched in the bottom) until they are well-rooted and established, then transplant into the garden just like you did your original plants.

A good layer of compost in the bottom of the planting hole will get them off to a good start.

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Volunteer tomato plants

Rooting tomato cuttings isn't the only way to get more tomato plants for free. If you have volunteer plants spring up in your garden or around your compost pile, you can transplant those to the tomato patch too. 

You may or may not know what variety they will be - they might even be a hybrid between two varieties you grew last year - but they are free tomato plants that will produce delicious, free tomatoes.

More on growing tomato plants

When your tomato plants are large enough, use one of these six ways to trellis your tomato plants. Your plants will be much healthier and you'll have a better harvest than if you let them sprawl on the ground.

Tomatoes are heavy feeders so they need some help throughout the gardening season. You'll find some excellent advice on feeding your tomato plants at Epic Gardening.

I like to use comfrey tea or compost tea on my vegetable plants every couple of weeks. Comfrey tea is easy to make and so good for your plants.

You can preserve any variety of tomatoes, even if they aren't paste tomatoes. 

Then use some of those preserved tomatoes to make this delicious roasted tomato soup to go with your grilled cheese sandwich. There's nothing better than this taste of summer in the dead of winter.

Tomato plants love heat and hot weather. You'll find my recommendations for more warm-weather vegetables to grow in your summer raised bed garden here.

When the gardening season draws to a close, save your tomato seeds so you can plant them next year. Plants that grow in your garden year after year from seeds you've saved will adapt to your soil and your micro-climate after a few seasons. 

Related Posts:
Common words and phrases for beginning gardeners
Seed starting for beginners


Text: Grow tomato plants for FREE!

You can double your tomato harvest by growing more plants, and here's how to do it for FREE!


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