Grafting Tomatoes

By Susan Littlefield

We've all probably heard of grafting fruit trees and roses, but tomatoes? Grafted tomatoes are becoming popular because they allow fruiting varieties that may not exhibit good disease resistance or vigor to be grafted onto a sturdier root system. For example, many of the heirloom varieties are tops in flavor, but don't have the disease resistance of modern hybrids. Grafting is a way to have the best of both worlds.

Commercial tomato growers have been grafting tomatoes for a while. Now the plants and the technique are filtering down to the home garden level. You may find grafted tomato seedlings for sale in your local garden store this spring. Seedlings will be pricier than regular seed-started transplants, but if you've struggled with soil-borne diseases or just want to experiment a little, they may be worth a try.

You may even want to attempt the grafting technique yourself. It is not complicated, but, as with any skill, practice will improve your success rate. The only specific supplies needed are inexpensive grafting clips that hold the rootstock and scion, or top, together; the particular type of clip needed depends on the grafting technique used. Tomato varieties commonly used as rootstocks include 'Maxifort', 'Beaufort' and 'Emperador'.

For information on how to graft tomatoes, go to Grafting Techniques for Greenhouse Tomatoes. To view a helpful video on grafting, go to Grafting Greenhouse Tomatoes. For a source for grafting clips and rootstock varieties, go to Johnny's Selected Seeds.

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