Growing Tomatoes Inside the House


At the beginning of November, I sadly picked the last crop of my tasty cherry tomatoes from the potted tomato plant I had moved into the sunroom when the weather was getting too cold for the plant outside. This tomato plant thrived living on our south facing deck during the summer. It is quite sturdy and survived being tipped over a few times by wind—next year I will use a heavier pot. I looked forward to harvesting the cherry tomatoes for my salads.

When I picked the last tomato, I wondered if I could start a tomato plant from a cutting and get fresh tomatoes during the winter. Around Nov. 20, I took five 7-inch cuttings from the tips of the newest, leafy, actively growing stems that were still left on the fading plant. Lower leaves were removed from the main stem of the cuttings. I elected to put the cuttings into water rather than soil so I could see the roots forming. The rooting containers were set in the sun of a south facing window. The water level in the container was monitored and replenished as needed to keep the cutting’s lower stem continually immersed in water.

Within two weeks, tiny roots appeared at the place of the cut forming a fibrous root system. The next roots to form emerged from the little bumps you see on the tomato stem. These bumps, stem primordia (which are composed of very simple tissue), are the beginning of a new root node which will develop when in the presence of water or if the plant should loose contact with its existing root system. Planting your tomato plant deeper will encourage these primordia bumps to grow and provide a larger root system for the plant.

On Dec. 21, each cutting was planted in the garden mix I use in my raised beds and put back in the southern window. One cutting had a very small tomato which I removed so the plant’s energy could be provided to root growth. Two other cuttings have tiny, yellow flowers forming which were also removed. After Christmas weekend, I will put the pots of tomatoes under grow lights.

Due to a reduction in the amount of sunlight received in our southern windows, I decided on Dec. 26 it was time to set up a grow light and get the tomato plants under it. There are blooms forming on the plant on the far right. These plants seemed determined to start blooming. You may wonder where this grow light is located. It is hanging from a lower rod in one of our closets since I cannot setup my usual grow light area in the house due to construction. In the back of the tomato plants are some cuttings I took from one of my coral bell plants.They are also doing well.

Jan. 21, 2021

Overall, these plants are thriving despite a few challenges. For starters, our granddaughter overwatered the plants so they were growing in mud for a few days. Next, when the plants were living in the closet and were all bent over, one of them got stepped on and destroyed. Finally, a little swarm of white flies appeared and took over. They are gone now thanks to an organic spray. Guess I should check the houseplants for flies!

The plants got too big for the closet space so they now live on the bottom shelf of the rack I use to start seedlings. Each vine is supported by a string that ties a pot to the grid above it. The idea is to add more strings between each shelf as the tomato plants grow through the grids of the shelf and wrap the vine around the string. The drape is closed so I could get a good photo. Generally, the plants have both ambient and bulb lighting. The plants looks like they have good support system but another challenge looms. In March, I will either have to get another rack to use for my seedlings or end the experiment with the tomato plants. Decisions, decisions…

Next task to learn: How do you pollinate indoor tomato plants? I will keep you posted on the progress of this experiment.

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