How to Propagate Tomatoes
By July your tomatoes are in full production swing. But all good things must come to an end-or not. You can propagate your favorite tomato plants with a process called serpentine layering. Layering is a simple method of propagation that can produce several new plants from one stem. You will have tomatoes ready to move into the greenhouse and keep growing throughout the fall and winter much faster than planting seeds.
How to Layer Tomatoes
Several weeks before the recommended fall planting date, select a healthy, disease-free, supple or pliable branch from your favorite tomato plant. Pull it toward the soil without breaking it. Make sure it is long enough to lay out over the soil without springing back toward the plant.
Cover a small section of the branch with soil. Water and feed the parent plant, and keep the soil moist around the layered branch. To start several new plants, cover it with soil at different points. Each section that is covered will take root.
Cut the connection to the parent plant once the layered sections have rooted. Cut the vines between the new plants to separate them.
Carefully remove the new plants, being careful not to disturb or damage the tender new roots. Transplant the new tomato plants into containers filled with new, sterile, potting soil. Keep the soil moist and make sure the new tomato plants receive at least 8 hours of sun each day. In the fall and winter it may be necessary to provide some additional, artificial light.
Serpentine layering can be used to propagate several types of plants with soft, pliable vines that run along the ground. It can also be used to propagate raspberries, blackberries, grapes and even strawberries.
- Tomato, Part I
Texas A&M University