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Grafted Tomato Plant Growing Guide

grafted tomato plant growing guide

Over the last year Suttons UK Nursery team has been busy developing our grafting technique to ensure these exceptional tomato plants continue to be the most vigorous and hardy plants that will provide you with plenty of tasty vegetables throughout the summer. With this in mind, We have developed an improved grafting technique that is now used on all tomato plants in order to produce even more fruit, earlier and over a longer period!

How are tomato plants grafted?

grafting suttons tomato plants
Grafting Suttons tomatoes

Two plants are grown simultaneously; a tasty fruiting variety and a super-strong rootstock.

The tops of the fruiting variety and the super-strong rootstock are carefully and skilfully removed by hand using a small blade to slice at an angle across each stem.

The rootstock bottom and the top of the fruiting plant are then grafted together using a special clip that drops off naturally as the plant grows.

Where are plants grafted?

grafted tomato plants

The new grafting position is now taken above the first true leaf formed above the ‘seedling’ leaves (cotyledons). Please note: This process is currently only being used on tomato plants.

Why graft plants above the first true leaf?

Grafting the plant above the first true leaf ‘fools’ the young plant into thinking it’s older than it really is. The plant therefore produces its fruit much earlier and much lower down the stem to give you an even greater yield!

The benefits of Suttons new
grafting process:

  • At least 6-8 trusses per single plant
  • At least 5-6 trusses per stem on doubles and duo’s!
  • Up to 75% more fruit than ordinary tomato plants*
  • Even earlier fruiting
  • Even longer fruiting period
  • Even greater yield
  • Even greater resistance to soil-borne pests and disease
  • Even better for outdoor growing

Suttons grafted tomato plants: single, double, or duo – what’s the difference?

Looking after your Suttons grafted tomato plants

We know how excited you’ll be to get your new Suttons Grafted Plant (or plants!) home, but please do take a few moments to read the following information to ensure you get the absolute best from your plants.

Nothing tastes quite like fresh vegetables picked straight from your garden and the delicious vegetables produced from Suttons Grafted Plants are sure to wow you, your friends and family, and leave you eager to cook up a storm in the kitchen!

Unlike some, all Suttons grafted plants are grown in our own UK nursery and undergo rigorous inspections by our vegetable experts ensuring you only receive the highest quality plants.

When you receive your grafted tomato plant

Grafted Tomato Plants Juanita Monsanto

When you receive your new plant it is important that you give it time to adjust to its new environment. Check the compost is moist and if required leave the plant to soak in approx 5mm water for 5-10 minutes or until the top of the compost is damp.

Stand the plant in a warm, light, airy place such as a windowsill or conservatory and allow to grow, ensuring that the compost is kept moist.

Potting on and planting out your tomato plants

As the tomato plant grows and develops it will need transferring into a larger pot (as per the label) to ensure the roots have plenty of room to grow. When planting in its new pot or outdoors, ensure that the point at which the graft was made (where there is a ‘bump’ on the stem) is above the compost/soil as otherwise the variety will root itself, spoiling the advantage of growing on a super-strong rootstock.

Once your plant reaches around 40cm (16″) in height, or shows its first yellow flowers, you can transfer it to its final growing place; a greenhouse or a nice sunny position either in a pot on your patio or a space directly in your garden. Be careful to only leave your tomato plant outside once any danger of frost has passed.

Side-shooting your grafted tomatoes

Around May /June time you will see small shoots growing from the ‘V’ space between the main stem and the leaf branches. These are called side shoots and will need removing (they do not bare fruit) to ensure the plant dedicates its growth and nutrients to what will be the fruiting trusses. To remove these, simply take hold of one between your thumb and forefinger at the bottom of the shoot and ‘pinch’ it at right angles to the leaf to remove it from the plant.

Please note: If you are growing a Tomato Lizzano, there is no need to remove side shoots, simply let it grow into a bountiful bush.

Trimming & training your grafted tomato plants

training supporting grafted tomato plants

As your tomato plant develops the leaves will act as ‘solar panels’, soaking up the daylight and creating lots of healthy minerals which will eventually end up in your tomatoes.

Each leaf should have plenty of room to bask in the sun and should be supported off the ground.

If a leaf is in shade it will produce less sugar and stay slightly damp which means it will be more susceptible to disease and produce less and smaller fruit.

To trim your plants leaves, simply use some secateurs to remove any low hanging or overcrowding leaves. Initially, the procedure of removing leaves should be kept to the lower part of the plant below the first ripening truss of fruit.

As the plants grow, you can gradually remove further leaves to allow the light to reach the ripening fruit.

Training or supporting

Once your grafted tomato plant starts to flower you will need to support it. There are two ways of doing this; by using either a 1.5m (5′) cane to support your plant, or string/twine to train your plant. When using canes, simply place your cane into the soil as close to the main stem as possible. Using a small piece of twine, loop it around the cane, cross over itself and then loop around the stem to form a figure of 8 and tie off. Do this at regular intervals above the fruiting branches. However, the most effective way (and favoured by Suttons Seeds) is to train your plants upward using vertical twine and wrapping the string clockwise around the plant as it grows.

Topping off tomato plants

Once your plant has a good crop of tomatoes growing later in the season, they need to be given the chance to mature into large, juicy fruits. To do this, simply remove the growing tip or tips (if growing doubles or duos) from the top of the plant. This directs all the nutrients and final growing vigour produced by the plant into the ripening fruits. With Suttons new grafting technique you will achieve at least 1 extra fruiting truss meaning you can expect to achieve approximately 6-8 trusses of tomatoes from one single grafted plant and 5-6 trusses per stem on doubles and duos!

Please note: The Lizzano grafted plant is a ‘bush-type’ plant and requires no pinching, pruning or supporting. Simply let it grow and grow!

Feeding & watering tomato plants

watering tomato plants4

Suttons Grafted Plants, by their nature, are more vigorous than standard plants and as such will require more feeding. We recommend that you feed your grafted plants from when the first flower buds appear with a fertiliser that contains high potash levels. You may have to feed your plants twice a week when the plants are fruiting well. Water is also an essential element to the success of your plants.

A 9 litre (2 gallon) watering can full of water/feed for each plant once the sun has gone down (if the compost or soil is drying) will ensure you have large juicy fruits that will taste delicious from early summer and into the autumn!

Harvesting tomatoes

When your fruits are an even orange-red (or orange in the case of Orangino) in colour but still firm they are ready to harvest. Once they start to ripen, check your plant every couple of days to ensure you don’t miss any delicious fruits. Use your thumb and finger to snap the fruit stem at the swollen area just above the fruit. Leaving the green stalk on the fruit will prolong the fruits life. For the best flavour, tomatoes should be stored at room temperature; however they can also be stored in the refrigerator.

The perfect addition to a summer salad.

A perfect summer tomato salad
A perfect summer tomato salad

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18 thoughts on “Grafted Tomato Plant Growing Guide”

  1. Katie Brunt says:

    Hi David, this year has been a bad one for tomato blight and even blight-resistant varieties have suffered, unfortunately. You need to dispose of the affected plantmaterial and next year try growing tomatoes in a fully sunny open spot or even better in a greenhouse. We hope this is helpful to you!
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  2. David Simmonds says:


    Unfortunately my grafted Suttons tomato plants developed a blight or virus, The leaves crinkled, the stems had black/brown splotches and the fruit turned brown. Can you advise? They were in half shade in large pots.

  3. Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Tim, we think tomato plants grow a lot better in greenhouses! We hope this is helpful to you.
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  4. Tim says:

    Hi ive got 3 diff types of Tomato plants coming from you i would just like to ask is it ok to grow them in my green house only as im a bit stuck for room in a good sunny position.
    Any feedback will be much appreciated

  5. Lisa says:

    My first time growing tomatoes and I’m so excited as I’ve already got lots growing. The plants are so healthy and were delivered in secure packaging. I will definitely recommend Suttons grafted tomato plants to friends and family.
    And I agree with Roy Jones, the article is excellent and very informative.

  6. Kim says:

    Can I plant Lizzano tomatoes in a hanging basket?

  7. Derek Foster says:

    …been growing grafted Suttons tomatoes three years and waiting excitedly for my next plants. I grow them very successfully in deep plastic boxes (2ft x 18in in old money) of growbag compost into which I have inserted growing rings. Previously, with plants from seed I have used the growing rings straight into growbags. At the end of the season I find that the grafted plants have developed a massive root system to the extent that it’s difficult to get the root balls out of the boxes. I will be repeating the process.

  8. tarundabmoo says:

    I think it is an useful information on grafted tomatoes, there are many varieties like TOMATO MONEYMAKER (60 Seeds Approx) A reliable old favourite producing heavy crops of tasty medium sized tomatoes.

    Indoor Planting: Sow seeds 1.5cm deep in pots or trays of moist compost, be careful not to over-water. Store in a warm location at an approx. temperature of 18c (65f). When the seedlings are approx. 6″ high, transfer to larger pots and reduce the temperature to 16c (60f). The plants can be moved to an unheated glasshouse in April or hardened off and planted out from June. Support the plants when needed. Limit each plant to 4-5 trusses and pinch out the sides hoots. Feed regularly with a tomato feed.

    Sow Indoors: March , April.

    Harvest: June , October.

  9. James Henderson says:

    Planted Sutton Beefsteak variety Fl Belriccio Flowers were double headed which surprised me and this appears to have possibly caused the fruit to be deformed
    I have watered these tomatoes twice a day but still managed to get an element blossom end rot. The tomato itself is not round. It has a C shape and is very heavily ribbed. I am an ex
    nursery man with many years experience and have never seen this type of deformity before.

  10. Maggie says:

    what soil should I grow the grafted tomatoes in…. Levington m2 or soil from tomato compost bag????
    Don’t undestand the panel above. Is it a test?

    Also you could specify soil in you info pages.
    Thanks Maggie

  11. Ian Frampton says:

    Both varieties are cordon type.

  12. Kevin jackson says:

    i have purchased from suttons tomato plants “crimson crush” and “Russian rose” should they be treated as bush or cordons

  13. shallotman says:

    Just taken delivery of my grafted Crimson Crush. Lets hope the benefits out-way the cost.

  14. Hi Norman, we recommend a 30 litre pot, ideally quite a deep one, we advise against growbags as the vigorous roots need more depth than a grow bag can provide.

    For any further queries relating to orders please contact Suttons Seeds

    Suttons Gardening Grow How Team.

  15. Norman Green says:

    You say above, the plant ‘will need transferring into a larger pot (as per the label)’ but the labels on my plants say nothing about this. Can you please advise how large the final pot should be? It would be helpful either to have a pot diameter, or better still, a litre capacity as I want to use planting bags. I wouldn’t have thought with the added vigour of grafted plants that the RHS recommended 23cm (9in) pots would be large enough.

  16. Hi Rod, you are right to rub the small roots off, they will have been produced by the plant in response to the high humidity in the packaging. The graft should be kept above the soil as it the callused area around the graft is able to produce a multitude of different types of cells one of which being adventitious roots which search the area around the plant for extra moisture. By keeping the graft area free from roots it will enable to super strong rootstock to do its work and provide the vigour and disease resistance for which it is selected.

    By watering the soil around the plant and trying to avoid water contact with the stem it will stop these adventitious roots being produced and allow the plant to get to its full potential.

    Many thanks,
    Suttons Gardening Grow How Team

  17. Rod Norman says:

    Thank you for the grafted Elegence toms in the post today, they look fine. I notice there are a lot of new white roots emerging from the graft , ie from the variety. I’ve potted the plants on, a bit high so the variety roots are not at this moment touching the soil. Am I right to rub these small roots off to prevent them taking hold in the compost?

    Thanks. Rod Norman

  18. Roy Jones says:

    An excellent article on grafted tomatoes, I had an excellent crop last year.

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