Seed Swaps

How to Repair Broken Stems on Plants

(Reposting from Duplicate Group – Tips & Tricks)

This technique works for lots of plants. I repair broken tomato and pepper stems all the time. Unfortunately, I have plenty of splints to photograph. Here’s how to repair broken plant branches:
Hold the two broken pieces together and wrap with electrical tape (black stretchable plastic tape). Next place a pencil or popsicle stick along the broken stem, and then tape the pencil to the broken branch to create a splint … I use electrical tape because it will stretch as the branch grows. If the plant is fully grown, you can use duct tape. You need to do this within 12 hours of the break occurring, although I have had successful graphs after two days.
If a branch breaks at a joint where you can’t use a straight splint, I cut an angled splint with a jig-saw. You can also tape the pencil bridging between the main stem and branch.
Any of these splice techniques will work regardless of whether it is a split or a complete break. The bridge splice shown in the second photo is one that I didn’t catch for two days, and as you can see by the fruit, it didn’t even slow down tomato growth.

Comment by Tfickle
I recommend florists tape as it will work just fine. The wide stuff is good for thicker bulky stems, the regular width stuff works for the smaller thinner stems,branches etc. You can use twigs if they are the right size or the right curve if you have a angled break where a straight splint won’t work.

If you have large elm tree branches available that have fallen from the ground or branches about the thickness of your finger, soak it in water for 30 mins scrap off the outer bark, and then tear off the cambium layer in long strips so as you have enough to tie the IND tomatoes or other vine type veggies to a pole or trellis. Depending on the weight of the plant you may have to do a little “braiding” or “twisting” a few strips together so support more weight.
(Back woods technology)

Posted over 8 years ago | Last edited about 8 years ago

Very timely as I just found a split right in the centre of my Choisya Aztec Pearl from last weeks heavy slushy snow.

Posted over 8 years ago

What kind of success rate do you get assuming you make the repair quickly (normally, I guess, right after you’ve broken it! ;-) )?


Posted over 8 years ago

Cristina tried this after her tomatoes were broken in a storm and it worked great. I have used it 40-50 times over the years, with 100% success. The trick is to catch it within 24 hours, however, on vegetables if the leaves are green it seems to heal even after 4-5 days, and with tomatoes up to a week.

Posted over 8 years ago

Going to have to try this today, had a hail storm last night :P

Posted about 8 years ago

Will this method work on a 1 month old tomato plant? Is there hope?

Posted almost 8 years ago

Use a skewer for a splint or even toothpicks on tiny plants, and make sure you use elastic type tape that will stretch. I use it in the greenhouse on plants that are 6" high and 1/8" diameter stems. I’m always breaking pepper plants and it works even for stems that are completely severed. The elastic tape (electrician tape) accomplishes two things. It expands as the stem grows, and creates a sealed skin to allow the plant to take up moisture & nutrients even when there’s a complete sever. After a few weeks you can cut the tape and splint away once the stem has healed. I’ve had great success splinting, even after several days of being broken.

Posted almost 8 years ago | Last edited almost 8 years ago

What all of
you are talking about is about the same as grafting. Catch the break before it calluses over and mate the two back together. Just for fun, you might try making clean cuts on 2 diferent types of tomatoes and grafting one to the other. Tape the contact surface from end to end to keep it clean and dry. The main thing when you graft is to have the pieces match in size so the outside “skin” mates together.

Posted over 7 years ago

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