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How to grow grafted tomato plants.


Staff member
Mar 21, 2024
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How to grow grafted tomato plants.

Are you looking to grow healthier tomato plants with higher yields? Grafted tomato plants might be the answer you’ve been searching for. These highly productive plants are miles ahead of ordinary tomato plants in terms of vigour and yield.

Whether you prefer small cherry forms, regular salad tomatoes or meaty beefsteaks, we will explore the benefits of growing grafted tomato plants, how to care for them, and why they are becoming increasingly popular with our customers.

What is a grafted tomato plant?

Grafted tomato plants are made by joining (grafting) the rootstock of one plant with the upper part (scion) of another. The result is a single tomato plant with a strong root system that is resistant to diseases and pests, that gives the scion (selected for its fruits) a huge boost, increasing the crop produced. Put simply, grafted tomato plants produce higher yields compared to non-grafted plants. Grafted tomato plants are widely grown by commercial growers and are now available to home gardeners.

Grafting has nothing to do with genetic modification (GM). It is an ancient horticultural technique. Recent research suggests that grafting was practiced with fruit trees in China before 2000 BC, and the practice was well established in the Fertile Crescent by 500 BC. The Greek philosopher Theophrastus, known as the Father of Botany, described the technique in his treatise on propagation, written in around 300 BC.

Why grow grafted tomato plants?

They are more productive. Researchers have reported grafted tomato plants yielding up to 75% more fruit than standard tomato plants. Grafted tomato plants have at least 6-8 trusses per plant. High yielding crop plants are important if you have limited growing space.

Earlier and longer fruiting period. In other words, grafted plants are productive over a longer time scale.

A major benefit of growing grafted tomato plants is their improved health and resistance to soil-borne pests and diseases. The rootstock used in grafting is usually selected for its disease-resistant properties, making the resulting plant less susceptible to common tomato diseases such as blight and wilt. This means grafted tomatoes are better for outdoor growing than non-grafted tomato plants. In summary, grafted tomato plants are stronger and healthier, and produce more tomatoes.

Which grafted tomato plant variety should I choose?

All grafted tomato plants will produce bumper harvests. Here at Capital Gardens, we offer a range of grafted varieties, from the huge F1 ‘Buffalosteak’, which grows large juicy fruits, to the miniature fruiting ‘Sugargloss’ cherry type. The cherry plum variety F1 ‘Aviditas’ has consistently been voted customer favourite in taste trials by Suttons. Varieties including ‘Crimson Crush’ and ‘Orange Plum’ offer enhanced blight resistance. Plant the varieties you enjoy eating the most, but why not also add something different for a bit of fun?

There are two basic growth forms: cordon varieties that are fast-growing plants requiring support; and compact bushy forms. Cordon varieties take up little ground space but require more maintenance. Cordon types are ideal for planting in Westland ‘Big Tom’ peat free tomato planters. These deep filled bags contain a nutrient rich compost that promotes strong root growth, supporting abundant fruiting. Bush forms are easier to care for and do well in pots and window boxes.

Caring for your grafted tomato plants.

All our Suttons grafted plants are grown in their own UK nursery, and they undergo rigorous inspections by horticultural experts, ensuring you only buy the highest quality plants. Because creating a grafted tomato plant is labour intensive they cost a little bit more than a standard tomato plant, but this difference is an investment as the individual plants are much more productive. My colleague Angela at Alexandra Palace Garden Centre grew just one grafted cherry tomato plant last year. She told me she had “too many tomatoes from one plant for one person to eat”.

When you take home your grafted plants it is necessary to allow them time to adjust to their new environment. This is especially important during the cold snap we are going through. Keep your tomato plants in a warm, bright situation such as a sunny windowsill or conservatory and allow them to grow rapidly by keeping the compost moist.

It is important to regularly check the compost to see if it is still moist. If it is a bit dry, pop the plant into a tray of water for five to ten minutes to absorb enough water. That is to say, put the tomato plant (in its pot) in a tray of water until the top of the compost feels damp to the touch.

Grafted plants are more vigorous than standard plants so will soon require regular feeding. We recommend that you start feeding your grafted plants with a high potash liquid tomato food, such as Westland Big Tom Super Tomato Food, as soon as the first flower buds appear. You will need to feed your grafted plants at least once a week when the plants start fruiting. Water your grafted plants thoroughly before the compost dries out. Remember, well-watered and fed tomato plants produce larger, juicier fruits with delicious flavour.

How to pot on or plant out your grafted tomato plants.

You will need to pot on your grafted tomato plants regularly as they grow, to allow plenty of space for a large root system to develop.

It is most important, whether you are planting your tomatoes into new pots or into the ground, to always check that the point at which the graft was made (you will recognise it as a ‘bump’ on the stem) is kept above the surface of the compost. If the grafting point is buried beneath the soil, the top variety will root itself, removing the advantage given by growing on a super-strong rootstock.

Grafted tomato plants can be grown both outdoors and indoors, making them a versatile choice for gardeners. Outdoor plants benefit from natural sunlight and fresh air, while indoor plants can be protected from adverse weather conditions and reduce exposure to pests and diseases. If you intend to grow your plants outdoors during the summer, remember to be careful not to move them outside until the risk of frosts has passed.

How to remove side shoots from your grafted tomato plants.

As cordon type tomato plants grow you will notice leafy shoots beginning to appear from the ‘V’-shape space between the main stem of the plant and the leaf branch (axil). These side shoots (also called ‘suckers’) need to be removed when small by ‘pinching out’. Pinching out is simple to do. Just take hold of the leafy sucker between your thumb and forefinger at the bottom of the shoot and pinch it off with your thumb nail.

Why bother? These shoots will not produce tomatoes and will take energy and nutrients away from the developing fruits.

There is an exception to side shoot removing: the side shoots on bush varieties don’t need to be pinched out, they naturally form bountiful bushes.

How to train your grafted tomato plants

Support cordon type tomato plants using canes and soft twine.


As your tomato plant develops, make sure each leaf has plenty of room to soak up the sun. The more daylight the leaves get, the more healthy minerals will end up in your tomatoes and the tastier they will be. A shaded leaf produces less energy and gives you smaller fruit. Without enough sun the leaves may also remain slightly damp, making the plant more susceptible to fungal disease.


Growing grafted tomato plants can be a fun and rewarding experience for both beginner and experienced gardeners. With their disease resistance, higher yields, and adaptability to different growing conditions, grafted tomato plants are becoming increasingly popular with our customers. Consider adding grafted tomato plants to your balcony or garden this season and enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious, homegrown tomatoes.

Grafted tomatoes are not the only fruit.

We have a range of other grafted vegetable plants you can try. All the grafted vegetables offer the same mix of strong rootstock and superior fruiting scion. We have grafted cucumbers, aubergines, sweet peppers and chillis – but don’t hang around as they quickly sell out!

Finally, a tomato recipe for your summer surplus.


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