Grafted Tomatoes! A Million of Them!


Holy Brandywine, did you know that over a million grafted tomatoes have been sold in the United States? It’s true!

So says Anne Raver in the NYT’s latest dip into the grafted veggie thing.

So. Massive, disease-resistant, hardy rootstock pumping out more tomatoes than ever before. Have you tried it? What do you think?  (And if you did, did you grow them in a container?  Because I hear that the rootstock really needs room to dig down deep, and most containers aren’t big enough.)

Let us hear from you.


    • Not a chance that I’m ever going to pay a premium for a grafted tomato. They may or may not produce more than a Brandywine on their own roots, but they won’t produce more than 4 Brandywine’s will and I’ve got plenty of space!

  1. We bought rootstock seeds from Johnny’s to do our own – just ‘cuz we have enough plant geeks in our group who wanted to try it. Unfortunately, we waited too long to do the grafts, so one had one take. We have some root stock plants left and will be attempting an approach graft.

    UofMaryland’s GrowitEatit Blog is experimenting this year with it, but with purchased plants. Link here:

    I’ll be following their efforts, and if we have any successes with the grafts. Scion varieties are chosen, and we have those varieties in the garden already, so comparisons can be made, at least in yield data, once they start producing.

    • I’ve been growing and grafting my own from Johnny’s Maxifort seed stock for about 3 years now. I use the tongue approach graft myself since it’s a safer bet for beginners.

      I’ve not a scientific study of whether it’s better than straight stock or not. In the end, the only thing that matters is if you increase your yield. Not having any control to compare it against, it’s hard for me to say. But, it’s my time rather than my dime, so #shrug & #whynot?

  2. I brought a few of these home from the garden center where I work last summer. Now granted, last year’s drought didn’t do anyone’s tomatoes any favors, and I did plant them in (big) containers, but I was NOT impressed – slow growth, few tomatoes, and they sucked water a lot more than my non-grafted plants did. I’ll stick to the seedlings I start in the basement, thanks.

  3. I bought one just to try it out. I also bought seeds to do my own grafting, but, alas, it is not as easy as it looks. I am going to try again next year.

  4. I grew Heatmaster tomatoes last year that were ok – not fabulous. I’m not sure if they were grafted or not or just hybrids. This year I grew Yellow Brandywine and Principe Borghese from seed. I don’t really like the idea of grafting. I want to know what I’m getting all the way down to the roots.

  5. I am growing one plant as part of a informal study via the master gardener program. This will perhaps be a poor year for testing, as it’s been miserbaly cool and wet for spring. I finally planted all my heat lovers on 6/02/13, and since then, it’s been in the low 60’s with the exception of one day. Then, the high was 53.

  6. Originally grown in countries with little arable land, to avoid disease issues of growing in the same plot year after year and to maximize yields. Japan, and some European countries grow a majority of their veggies this way I found out. I grew a couple grafted tomatoes last year, Pruden’s purple and Legend. The Pruden’s grew like a monster and produced very little fruit (though honestly I wonder if I didn’t do something stupid like give it some nitrogen fert!) the Legend produced huge quantities!! Living right on the coast (block from the beach) it is challenging to get any at all- so I tend to think it was a success.

  7. In 2011, when grafted tomatoes first became available, I conducted side by side public trials of five different grafted and ungrafted tomatoes. My fellow Master Gardeners and I conducted these trials half-expecting we would not see the results claimed. Most things to good to be true, are just that. Such was not the case with grafted tomatoes. They delivered in every way as promised and much more. Our grafted tomatoes were more robust than any tomato we had ever grown. They fruited earlier, more plentifully, bigger and much longer. When we removed our trial plants from their beds on Oct 17, 2011, every ungrafted tomato was completely dead and each grafted plant was at least twice a big as it’s ungrafted counterpart had ever been and they were bright green and loaded with fruit ! I took hundreds of documentary pictures of this. The most discussed picture was of root comparison when harvested. Grafted roots are huge and probably ten times as big as ungrafted roots.

    The large root system of grafted plants enables them to much more efficiently gather moisture and nutrients. But these roots present a challenge to container gardeners. The recommended minimum size container is one-half wine barrel. Even at that size, the grafted plants do better unfettered in open ground. Some of our grafted roots were the size of pencils, ten feet away from the plant.

  8. I have successfully tried my hand at grafting, but recommend home gardeners buy grafted plants and spend their limited time tending to them. If you do try grafting, don’t use hyper vigorous rootstocks like Maxifort. They are excessively vegetative, hard to control and don’t fruit adequately. A balanced vegetative/generative rootstock like “SuperNatural” from Territorial Seed will perform nicely.

    I have raised grafted and ungrafted tomatoes, side by side, and exhumed their root systems. Grafted plants have huge root systems. Some gardeners plant grafted tomatoes in containers too small. It’s like parking your car in your dog house … it won’t fit. If you must plant grafted in a container, use something at least the size of a half wine barrel. Huge roots in little pots can’t function well.

    For many urban gardeners, their biggest problem is limited space and how to maximize production. Grafted plants solve that. For those who suffer with soil disease issues or who must plant repeatedly in the same location, grafted provides the best solution.

    In my raised beds, my grafted tomatoes are a sight to behold. They average 10 feet tall and some more than 12ft. They hang heavily with fruit and produce longer in the fall than my ungrafted plants. I have many visitors who come to see them. Let’s call it the “wow” factor.

    Give it a try. I’m glad I did.

  9. Hi there,
    I’m surprised that grafting tomatoes is such a big thing, in Europe we’ve been grafting vegetables and fruit for years, especially grapes. I personally never grew tomatoes, but from reading Harry’s comment, is it possible that ungrafted tomatoes would do better in containers due to their limited growth? They are more “spoilt” if you will, in their own little controlled environment.

  10. I am very curious about the disease susceptibility. I live in a rented house with very little garden space, so crop rotation is not an option. The soil has enough of the V and F wilts to kill anything other than resistant hybrids, unfortunately.

    (I know that when planting the hybrids that you can’t bury the graft or allow branches to topple over and root because the disease can get in the top of the graft then.)

    So has anyone noticed whether heirlooms grafted onto VF resistant root stocks actually get less disease?

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