Removing the suckers, or side shoots, from a tomato plant’s stem is one effective way that you can help your kitchen garden to thrive.
But before you throw those old suckers in the compost, gardening influencer Collins Country (@collinscountry) has shared a hack that will put them to better use — and help you to cultivate an “infinite” harvest in the process.
In a popular Instagram video, Collins Country explains how to grow a brand-new tomato plant from the original plant’s suckers.
Known as cloning, this process will be familiar to any houseplant gardeners who have grown a plant from its parent’s cuttings.
In the video, Collins Country snips a sucker off her tomato plant with a pair of scissors. She says the optimum sucker measures about a foot in length or longer.
She places the sucker in water and leaves it to grow. When she checks in on the plant a week later, its stem has lengthened generously and sprouted some roots.
The final step is to plant the sucker in the ground, where it will flourish into a cloned tomato plant.
Collins Country says that she can get dozens of extra tomato plants from just one parent this way — and she often uses this method to replace any plants that have died.
“This is such a fascinating process and it works flawlessly every time!” she wrote in the caption.
How it’s helping
The more suckers on your tomato plant’s stem, the more your original plant will have to compete for nutrients, which hampers its yield.
Pruning excess suckers means that the original plant will get more of the nutrients that it needs, which increases the number of tomatoes that it can produce. As a bonus, you can also boost your harvest further with clones.
Nature and Garden recommends leaving four or five suckers on your tomato plant and pruning the rest.
Replanting these trimmed suckers will strengthen your garden over time too, as you can focus on cloning the most successful tomato plants. Soon enough, you should have a consistent bountiful crop putting homegrown food on your table each year.
What everyone’s saying
Fellow gardeners have shared their own anecdotes about cloning tomato plants — and other crops — in the video’s comments.
“I take a cutting off of my best plant every September to bring indoors and make into 10 plants in the spring,” one user wrote. “Usually get tomatoes at least a month earlier.”
“Been doing this for years,” another commented. “I laugh at people when they buy a bunch of plants. I’ve always just bought one.”
“I clone my pot plants the same way,” another added.
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