Picture of Clone a tomato plant (and fill your garden for FREE!)
For this instructable, I will show you how to increase the amount of produce you can grow at your home for free.

Cloning may sound like a very complicated scientific process, but for the at-home gardener it is a very simple thing that anyone can do.

Step 1: Materials needed

Picture of Materials needed
The actual list of items needed to clone a plant is very short and anyone who gardens will have no problem at all locating these items around the house.

Absolute must haves:

A semi-mature tomato (Donor or mother plant) A plant with good growth and that has not been diseased or stressed.

A container or containers around 2 inches deep (I used one of my wife baking dishes, Ha ha)

Razor knife

Potting soil


Other optional items :

Rooting compound (can be found @ Wal-mart for 6 dollars[U.S.])

Humidity dome

Seed heat mat

I realize that most gardeners probably have the humidity dome and seed mat, but I was aiming this instructable for the weekend warrior gardener in hopes of expanding minds and showing how simple and cost effective this act of cloning can be. The optional items will greatly speed up the cloning process BUT are not required to complete this process.
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AzureEyes5 years ago
I love this. I think it's so neat. Do you think you could clone a pepper plant?
I would assume that tomato plants (right now ,being late May ) are too small to take cuttings from. Does anyone know if you could take a cutting from below? i have little flowers growing on my tomato plants but afraid to cut off the top, even if it grows roots, will it damage the flowers in any way?
AzureEyes, if you are taking cuttings you should remove all flowers and flower buds, and most/all of the leaf area, as flowers and fruit are nutrient "sinks" and your cuttings will have to provide that from stores in the stem until the roots establish - which they probably won't as the roots need those stores to get established themselves.
Dragonsire finton6 months ago
Most clones will root fastest if you remove mist the leaves, but removing all the leaves will slow things down. Leaves are needed to absorb light, which the plant turns to food.
Remove any lower leaves, but I suggest leaving the top leaves to allow for photosynthesis. Just trim them a bit if they're very large.
finton Dragonsire6 months ago

Quite so Dragonsire, hence my "most/all" phrase. Keep in mind though that while leaves are photosynthesising they are by definition also transpiring and that water has to come from somewhere. Until there are roots, one has to trim the cutting to balance the inputs and outputs.

This is where your misting comes in, of course! I did this for my Horticulture thesis in a special misting/propagation tent at Massey University's Plant Growth Unit: "The effect of Air-filled Porosity on the Rooting of Woody Cuttings in Bark". One problem with misting is some fungi's predilection for moist leaves... (which is why overhead watering in the evening on warm days is discouraged).

In any case, when leaves are left on (which I usually do), and are trimmed as you suggest (which I also do but more so), it is better to snip off the tip of the cutting as that is the softest and most water-thirsty part. As the plant establishes, new shoots will appear from the base of the existing leaves in balance with the developing roots (although some plants will sprout from nodes on the stem. Shrubs that are good for hedging are often like this).

Anyway, welcome to Instructables three days ago! We look forward to what you can teach us.

tonysoprano6379 (author)  AzureEyes4 years ago
Thanks for your post!
bobftx5 years ago
Be aware that most commercially available plants are patented and may not be propagated this way. If you use open-pollinated heirloom varieties you can propagate all you want, but of course the best way there is to save the seeds.
saehn bobftx5 years ago
Patented? Realistically, how could anyone patent a life-form? Don't drink the Kool-aid.
bobftx saehn5 years ago
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_Patent_Act_of_1930 It's the basis of the entire plant/nursery business. It's the basis of agriculture.
saehn bobftx5 years ago
More like it's the basis of the agricultural industry, the plant/nursery business as you wrote. Innovation happens without economy, and I think that the patenting of life-forms sets a dangerous precedent (commercializing life). I don't doubt that such a law exists, it just seems morally wrong to me. I was in an argumentative mood last night!
Dragonsire saehn6 months ago
Laws vary from place to place. I have never heard of that law here, but it may be a law somewhere.
njmalhq saehn5 years ago
"An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so." - Gandhi

A wise person -- I forget who -- said that as there are unjust men, there are unjust laws. Some of us obey such laws because, being deeply immersed in unjust societies, we have lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong, just from unjust. For those of us I have no remedies, because even if I did, they would not accept them.

Others amongst us obey such laws purely out of fear. Because behind every unjust law stands a covert or overt threat of extreme violence. There is a case to be made for that kind of compliance. Who could fault a person who is by design a survival machine, that doesn't want to go to prison, to be tortured, impoverished, hanged, drawn and quartered?

Still, sometimes the fear that we submit to is an internal beast. Big brother isn't all that big. He can't watch our every move, our every action, our every small act of disobedience. Sometimes we find ourselves somewhere, in the privacy of our homes, in remote corners of our lives, where we truly are free, where no corporation, no government, no policeman, no lawyer, no judge, no jury, no executioner is watching us. In such places, at such times, if we choose to uphold unjust laws, our obedience turns from an act of understandable, justifiable cowardice to one of voluntary collaboration. So, if you find yourself in such a position, realize that disobedience of unjust laws is your moral duty. And that someday our species will look back upon the patenting of life with the same contempt we look back upon the ownership of human beings.
bobftx njmalhq5 years ago
Clearly, njmalhq owns no intellectual property.
njmalhq bobftx5 years ago
Absolutely right. I own neither ideas, nor slaves, nor women, nor nations, nor the air, nor water, and quite a few other things. And that is a good thing. Because the moment you own something, someone owns you. Good luck to you, being owned and all.
pins njmalhq5 years ago
Good luck to you, owning nothing and all.
tonysoprano6379 (author)  pins4 years ago
Ha ha ha ha, good one.
And this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtJDZmwh5Bc
Monsanto has several patents on seeds. For example, patent # 7,294,765 B2. Which is a patent for variety of soy. There is no kool-aid. Go to the google patent search and look it up.
Leosmama bobftx5 years ago
I thought as long as you don't sell your propagated plants, i.e. for personal use only - then you can propagate to your hearts content, or is this not true - anyone know !!!???
rhkramer4 years ago
I would not be concerned about using a rooting hormone (at least, a natural one), as rooting hormone is something that is normally in the plant anyway.

Perhaps some of the rooting hormones are synthetic--that might be cause for worry, but if it is an exact duplicate of rooting hormone (chemistry wise), again, I would not be worried. 

How much rooting hormone does it take to cause cancer in some test animal? 

How many tomatoes would you have to eat to get an equivalent dose?

Does it build up in your body or is it excreted regularly in some fashion?
Eating the rooting hormone directly is probably a bad idea, but that's not what people should be doing anyways.
A plant gets watered many times before producing fruit, and grows much larger then the original clone. By the time you eat your fruit, the excess rooting horomone would be all but none existant.
There is no need for alarm, if your plant doesn't die from a high dosage, you wont from a miniscule one.
kschritter2 years ago
This is not cloning, it's just rooting. No laboratory needed. You can do this with many types of plants.
The reason people call this technique "cloning" is because the offspring is an exact copy of the mother plant, scientifically speaking.
Normally a "female" plant is pollinated by airborn pollins released by a "male" plant. Thus a seed has the mixed genetics of both plants. (And yes, plant sperm is in the air)
In this method, you produce a clone of the plant, with no other plant's genetics in the mix. An exact clone, no lab required.

Jodie1235 years ago
 there is a good way to do cuttings from almost any plant.
after taking the cutting and doing it in grow hormone  and putting it in your soil (best 50/50 sand and peat mos ) place the container in a clear plastic bag .
Put some sticks on the side to support the bag and tie the bag close and leave for two weeks in a light but not in the sun place make sure the soil is well watered but not to wet.
no need to water them at all.
also cut half the leaves so there is less leaves to feed.
Some plants are hard to do but I know another way and will post that later.
Hope you have lots of fun doing it.

sueL2 Jodie1235 years ago
Will this work on fig trees. I've tried everything I can think of. The branch grows roots but as soon as I cut it off the tree it dies, roots and all. gma
finton sueL24 years ago
Well that's strange sueL2: I chopped up my 1.5m (5ft?) fig-in-a-barrel last autumn, cut the thumb-thick branches into 500mm lengths, more or less, took off all the leaves, and stuck the stems in spaced out groups of six or so in tyres full of garden soil; this spring I have about 20 rapidly growing figs, having lost maybe one or two. No air-layering, hormones or anything! I'll try to remember to post a photo.
finton finton4 years ago
OK. Here are the figs in a wheelie bin, and about 20 of them after cutting the branches into lengths and "stikin" them in soil filled tyres (to the left of the bath in the second pic).
Garden 071228_0003 figs.jpgHPIM4101.JPG

Finton, I love your figs. I live at an elevation of over 10,000ft and have a dwarf fig. I need to prune it and would love to start another one. I will give your method a try. Thanks.

tonysoprano6379 (author)  finton4 years ago
Very impressive. Nice work!

I always taking cutting and expect to lose 10 % by default.
sueL2 finton4 years ago
I also have 4 apple trees I started from seeds. They're about 2 inches tall. How old or tall do they have to be before I can plant them outdoors?
finton sueL24 years ago
Sorry about the delay sueL2: just got back from PNG. Well strictly speaking, any old age/height you like; they do grow from seed in the ground after all! :] The answer depends on pot size, climate, site, intensity of after-planting care, etc, so let's see: personally, I'd grow them on in the pots until the roots are filling the pot space, but have not started to get crowded. This will give them a head-start over weeds etc, and give them a bigger volume to extract moisture from. I'm assuming you'll use standard planting methods, rather than just bunging them in the ground...
Keep in mind that apple trees started from seed rarely produce true to type, unless they are an heirloom variety that has not cross pollinated with any other variety. Most nursery-produced trees will be a good fruit-producing scion grafted onto disease-resistant and/or dwarfing rootstock (do a Google search). If your seedlings grow well in your site, you could always top-graft them with another variety when they're big enough.
I have some apple seedlings growing from broken roots left when I shifted my two grafted apple trees - these will be from the rootstock, so I intend to do just what I suggested above. I have also grafted scions from a old heirloom variety onto the existing trees; the grafts have taken but I've had no fruit yet.
sueL2 finton4 years ago
Hi Finton
I tried your method. It looks like it worked. No leaves yet but it looks like it has buds. So easy after everything else I tried didn't work.
Thank you!
Jodie123 sueL24 years ago
Don't know what went wrong with your figs but try another way of doing it.
There are more way's then one to skin a cat lol
Sorry for the late reply was not aware of it it was the first time i ever posted anything.
The other poster is right about needing to Air Layer a tree, but it's not as difficult as he makes it sound. Message me if you can't find good info, and I'll explain the process. All you'll need is a knife, sphagnum moss, string and plastic wrap.
saintneko sueL25 years ago
Most trees can't be cloned this way. You should look up the technique known as "air layering" (the way many bonsai are cloned) however, be warned, the technique is difficult.
tonysoprano6379 (author)  Jodie1234 years ago
Great input !!!!!!! Thanks Jodie!

tonysoprano6379 (author) 1 year ago

I wanted to log back on and give a big thank you to the folks over at TheHomeSteadSurvival.com for mentioning this instructable and giving me the credit for the project! You guys rock!!!!! Check out their awesome website!

reeding5 years ago
my friend always wants to give me his cloned dro and i never knew what that meant.
t0astt reeding3 years ago
He means he wants to give you a clone of his marijuana plant.
Tomato plants do not need to be cloned, all the little nodules on the stems are the beginnings of roots. You can break a stem off stick it in dirt or water and it will take root.
_-A7X-_3 years ago
I would have given it a try this year but an early unexpected frost killed all my three mother plants :( next year my mom and I are going to try this. You're right about showing gardening to kids; I love working out in the garden with my mom!
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