edible gardening

Grafted Tomatoes

An old-fashioned technique with a new use for home vegetable gardeners

By Kate Bryant June 21, 2010

There’s a new craze in grafted tomato plants this spring: – read about it here.

Grafting is an old-fashioned horticultural technique: it’s basically splicing plants, just like audio tape used to be spliced. It allows you to grow the desirable plant you want on a more vigorous root stock so you get faster (or slower) growth, disease resistance, and better or more fruit or flowers.

Fruit trees are often grafted to keep the tree height in check or improve vigor or adaptability. Wine grapes are nearly always grafted onto tough Vitus labrusca rootstock. Some roses are grafted, as well as witch hazels and many other ornamental plants.

Grafting tomatoes is a great idea for gardeners with tiny spaces or just room for one or two containers but who want more than one type of fruit (for example, a red cherry tomato and a yellow pear tomato): you can get more than one variety on a single plant. It’s also said to increase productivity so it could be nice for people who want lots of, say, Brandywine tomatoes, not just three per plant per summer (typical for this sometimes touchy but exquisitely desirable heirloom tomato).

The rootstocks used on grafted tomatoes are also disease resistant so should you have disease issues in your soil, the grafted plants might do better for you.

Apparently, vegetable grafting has been going on in commercial settings for years, both in the US and Europe. Eggplants and peppers are probably coming up next – stay tuned. Meantime, grafted tomatoes are available now at retail nurseries where Log House Plants are sold. They cost several times more than regular plants but you’ll be in the vanguard this spring and will definitely have bragging rights! I’m dying to see photos of producing plants so be sure to send me a photo if you try these grafted plants.

And here’s a video showing how tomatoes are grafted, courtesy of Johnny’s Seeds via Log House Plants:


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