05. June 2019

How to: Plant tomato suckers

Can you really grow tomatoes from tomato suckers? Yes, you can. It is a great way to propagate plants. Now is the perfect time to get going!

Tre sticklingar av tomat ligger på marken.

Lovely tomato suckers I have taken from some bigger plants.

 

Right now, there’s quite a lot of space in my garden. I’ve built plenty of new beds and repurposed some of the areas I’ve used for cabbage and potatoes. Now, it’s time to fill up the available spaces in the open field and my polytunnel. And I want to grow something we use a lot in my kitchen. Like tomatoes.

The only problem is that I’m out of plants. My solution is to start rooting tomato suckers instead. I have a few exciting heirloom tomato varieties from the U.S that I’d like to grow more of. The heirloom tomatoes usually grow nicely in the open field and seem like the perfect choice.

 

 

 

Planting tomato suckers is easy

One of the really great things about tomatoes is that they’re so easy to root. Just put some moist soil around your tomato suckers and the roots start to develop within days. That’s why it’s so easy to put a lanky plant in quite deep soil. The shoot develops quickly when it’s removed from the main plant, just put it in a separate pot.

 

Planting tomato suckers:

  • Fill a pot with soil, regular potting soil is fine.
  • Find the suckers along the stalk. They’re located where the leaves meet the stalk and are easy to find. Pick a larger one that has already developed flowers (if possible).
  • Cut the side shoot from the plant.
  • Remove the bottom leaves.
  • Use a stick to make a hole in the soil and plant the sucker. Make sure that it’s standing steadily in the soil.
  • You can put several suckers in the same pot if you want.
  • Water.

It only takes a few days before the sucker starts to develop new roots. You can plant your new tomato plant (either in the garden bed or a large pot) after about two weeks.

 

Guide: How to grow tomatoes outdoors

 

 

En liten grön kvist på tomatstammen.

Here’s a new little tomato sucker. I’ll cut it off and root it to get a new plant.

 

Tre sticklingar med bara stjälkar ligger på marken.

The suckers can develop good roots no matter how large or small they are. I’ve removed the bottom leaves here.

 

When should I plant my tomato suckers?

You should start this process in spring. If you start later, your plants might not be able to produce tomatoes this year. That’s why I always try to pick suckers that are about to bolt. They have a head start. You could start a bit later in the greenhouse though since the season is longer in there. In general, I think that the end of May/start of June is the last call for tomato suckers. Now is the perfect time to get going!

 

Why use tomato suckers?

Using tomato suckers is a great way to propagate plants, especially tomatoes that are so easy to work with. Tomatoes produce plenty of side shoots that I need to cut anyway, so why not use them? It’s the perfect solution!

You can grow the plants in the spring to produce a harvest in summer. Some also use suckers in order to overwinter smaller tomato plants of varieties that produce an early harvest indoors. Or to simply get a good start with already developed plants instead of sowing new seeds. Experimenting is fun!

 

Favorite recipes:
Fried tomatoes with pasta
Warming tomato soup
Homemade baked beans in tomato sauce

 

krukor med tomatsticklingar står på marken i tunnelväxthuset.

Three pots with a few suckers in each. They will develop roots in a few weeks and then you can plant them.

 

I’ve used suckers to propagate the varieties Isis Candy, Coyote, and Virginia Sweet in these three pots. I also kept a few suckers from my favorite varieties, Black Seaman and Black Russian. I’ve had good results with these beef steak tomatoes in the open field before. Can’t wait to see what will happen this year!

 

These are the heirloom tomatoes I’ve used:

  • Virginia Sweet, red and yellow beefsteak tomato with very large fruits (around 500 g/ 1 pounds). Sweet flavor. Reaches maturity: 80 days. Origin: USA.
  • Isis Candy, golden yellow cherry tomatoes with shades of red. Intense, sweet flavor. Productive plant that produces fruit throughout the life cycle. Reaches maturity: 67 days. Origin: USA.
  • Coyote, cherry tomato. White/yellow fruit. Complex fruity and sweet taste. Origin: Mexico.

Good luck with your tomato suckers!
/Sara Bäckmo

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