Posted on 21 January 2009 by

Bridging the Gap Between Heirlooms and Hybrids

By Vanessa Richinsheirloom-tomato

As anyone who visits Tomato Casual on a regular basis knows, we are very fond of the heirloom tomatoes.

These old-time beauties bring amazing colors and tastes that you simply won’t find in hybrid tomatoes.

Planting them also helps preserve tomato variety diversity and heritage.

However, one of the problems inherent in heirloom tomatoes is that they can be very susceptible to tomato diseases such as Verticillium wilt and tobacco mosaic virus. This is one of the main reasons that people choose to grow hybrid tomatoes.

However, did you know you can have the best of both worlds? All you have to do is graft your tomatoes. Use a hybrid rootstock to give heirloom tomatoes disease resistance.

A recent study confirmed that grafting works. “Researchers at NC State studied whether heirloom tomatoes could be grafted onto more disease-resistant tomatoes to reduce disease problems and found that the grafting indeed worked. This is very important, not only to backyard gardeners, but also to organic growers who want to reduce pesticides.”

Choose a hybrid tomato that is resistant to as many diseases as possible for your rootstock. If you choose a type that is indeterminate and keeps growing, it could be possible to graft on more than one heirloom variety.

Are you interested in grafting your tomatoes? Here are some instructions from UC Santa Cruz’s alumni site.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can experiment with other members of the Solanaceae family too, such as potatoes, peppers and eggplant.

Have you ever tried grafting on your tomato plants?

4 Responses to “Bridging the Gap Between Heirlooms and Hybrids”

  1. Nancy Bond Says:

    I’ve never tried in the past, but if I had the room to grow a few varieties, it’s an experiment I’d certainly try. Good luck.

  2. Anthony Says:

    This is great information. I didn’t know that it could even be done. Now I can’t wait until spring to give it a try. Thanks for the info!

  3. Jenny Says:

    I’ve grafted a lot now and have several plants growing successfully. It takes a bit of practice to get good matching cuts and to optimally control healing conditions, but once you get the hang of it it’s not too bad at all.

  4. alex Says:

    I have tried grafting with very good results from survivor’s, however results are just as good using mycorrhizal fungi without losses

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