How to take tomato cuttings to plant out next year

This is the seventh in my series of blog posts, explaining how to grow vegetables and herbs which can be sown now to see you through the winter and spring – no hungry gap in 2018!
I have added the category No Hungry Gap, so you can find all of the blogs easily using the search facility.

In the previous blog I said I’d explain how we take cuttings from tomatoes and overwinter indoors, here it is, warts and all as mine didn’t quite go according to plan…..

You can save seeds from open pollinated tomatoes, but it isn’t as straightforward with F1 hybrids: they won’t necessarily come true like their parent plant, which usually means buying new seed every year*. However they do come true from side shoots, so a few years ago Charles tried saving them and it worked!

(* Although it is fun to experiment, the reason I rarely keep seeds unless I am reasonably certain I know what they will grow into is space. Space is key! I want the 12 x 40 ft of my polytunnel to be as productive as possible, so try to make sure that most of the plants in there will be enjoyed by my family. There are always a few experiments every year however, new varieties etc; sometimes these are great and other times not so good.)

Rosada tomatoes, an F1 hybrid

Charles and I love Rosada cherry plum tomatoes – they enjoy our climate if grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel, taste delicious, produce prolifically and also preserve well too. My older son enjoys the firmness of the skin. Rosada is a fab tomato. Unfortunately it is an F1 hybrid and they are no longer producing the seed. So Charles tried to see of he could overwinter side shoots and save Rosada – in our gardens at least!

You can do this earlier in the year too with all varieties, when the tomatoes are first making side shoots, to make new plants for summer and autumn harvests, or to share with friends. It’s a useful way of making free plants.

This Rosada is the child of one of Charles’ plants last year. Before I went to Yorkshire, on October 2nd when I cleared my polytunnel,  I removed these side shoots and put them in a glass of water to pot on.

Unfortunately for some weird reason I put them on the mantelpiece and in the busy-ness of work and preparing to go away, forgot about the poor things until I got back from Yorkshire on Monday 9th. They looked rather sorrowful and neglected….

(The grubby tray is the one I use in my greenhouse for potting on, not for serving tea!)

Tomato side shoots after 7 days in a glass on a dark mantelpiece

I thought I’d give them a chance and potted them on. This is how you can root side shoots properly – just take them from the parent plant and pop into pots of potting compost. No need to put into water.

I made my mini dibber from a pencil.

Mine look rather sad, don’t they?

This is how they would look if they had been better treated – Charles put his side shoots straight into pots. Here they are in his greenhouse, alongside some of the lettuce modules for his polytunnel.

Side shoots of Rosada tomatoes put into pots of compost

I hoped that mine might perk up, but sadly (and unsurprisingly) all of that time in the water proved fatal and they dissolved into a hopeless mush.

Charles’ however were looking great a week later!

They will start to look a bit droopy and sad but do not worry, this is normal and they should be putting energy into roots. These tomatoes will be left in the greenhouse until the temperatures drop – hard frost will kill them – when they’ll come inside until it is time to plant them out next spring. Hopefully most of these will survive.

The lesson I have learned from this is that if I am attending a big family do next October, I must get my Rosada side shoots started before I go… hopefully Charles will give me one of these plants next year 🙂

The Yorkshire trip was fantastic. It was brilliant seeing my large extended Hafferty family at my cousin’s wedding, especially as so many of my family live abroad now. I extended my visit by a couple of days so I could have lunch with my Aunty in Howarth and visit some of my favourite places in that beautiful county. 

6 thoughts on “How to take tomato cuttings to plant out next year”


    Disappearance of ‘Rosada’, so I called Colin Randel, vegetable product manager at Thompson & Morgan, to find out more. His explanation provides an interesting insight into the sort of shenanigans that determine what plants we can buy.

    He says: “ ’Rosada’ proved extremely popular with our customers… the taste was outstanding. Unfortunately, as a variety from the Far East, its registration for the EU Common Catalogue was not undertaken, as neither of the two main obstacles could be adhered to. Either a seed production needed to be organised within the EU, or a strict ‘growing season documentation and phytosanitary certification’ to allow importation had to be arranged. The breeding company would not agree to either requirement so we had no option but to discontinue. We had to go back to major trialling, resulting in the introduction of ‘Santonio’, a slightly smaller-fruited ‘Santa type’, which has proven popular.”

    So there you have it,. Try another tasty Italian, ‘Santonio’.

  2. Hi Steph, I know this is a rather old post, but I hope you still see the comments. I was wondering how you overwinter the small tomato plants? In the house, frost-free greenhouse, which I don’t have or something else? Thanks

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