If you are a first-time tomato grower, planting tomato seeds from scratch and waiting for them to germinate can be quite daunting!
There is no need to worry though, over here at Plantophiles I’ll tell you exactly how long it takes for a tomato seed to germinate as well as provide you with some tips on how to speed up the germination process.
How long does it take a tomato seed to germinate?
It typically takes a tomato seed between 5 to 10 days to start germinating. Conditions must be optimal for germination to succeed. These optimal conditions refer to the viability of the seed, the temperature at which the seed grows in, the soil conditions and lastly the watering of the seed.
Viability of the seed
Sprouts of the tomato seed grown fairly quickly during germination! After about 5 – 7 days if you do not see any sprouting from your planted seed, there might be an issue at hand!
The reason may very well be that the seed has lost its viability and its potency. It’s possible that the seed has become dormant or dead and if this is the case, your seed will not germinate any time soon or at all!
A seed not being viable is one of the most common reasons for a seed not germinating. Tomato seeds have an average life span of about 3-6 years before they become ineffective.
If seeds are stored properly, in a dry, cool place with a moderate temperature you will be able to keep and store them for a longer period of time before they lose their viability.
It is important to check the expiration date of the seeds if you have bought them from a local gardening center. Make sure that when you buy your seeds that you do so from a trusted and reliable source!
How to test the viability of a tomato seed
It can be so disheartening when you plant your tomato seeds and they just don’t grow because they were already dead. To avoid this make sure you test the viability of the seeds before you plant them!
A great test to use is to take a medium-sized bowl and fill it with water. Thereafter, take your seeds and put them in the bowl of water. Slightly stir the mixture and then leave the seeds in the water for 5 minutes.
The seeds that are dormant or dead will float to the top and the viable seeds will sink to the bottom. Remove these floating seeds as they will not germinate.
Ideal temperature for tomato seed germination
Tomato seeds do not need sunlight for the germination process, they do however need a dark and damp environment that has a moderate and cool temperature.
If the temperature is too hot, the seeds will not germinate as the soil will dry out and this will cause the seeds to dry out and die.
If the temperature is too cold the seed may not have enough warmth to start germinating. The ideal temperature for a tomato seed to germinate is around 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ideal soil conditions for tomato seed germination
Having optimal soil conditions is extremely important for seed germination! Another common mistake you might be making when planting tomato seeds is that you might be using the incorrect soil mixture.
When planting tomato seeds you should make sure that the soil you are using is not filled with too many large pieces of organic matter.
Matter such as stones, pieces of wood and large debris will restrict your seed’s from growing upwards out of the soil.
Old soil and soil filled with clay is usually quite dry and compacted.
I would advise against using this type of soil for planting seeds as this type of soil will also restrict the seeds movement and the seed will struggle to grow its sprouts and grow further stems out from the soil.
I would advise anyone who wants to grow tomatoes from scratch to either make your own potting soil or buy a potting soil from a close-by gardening center. This will be a lot more beneficial to your tomatoes than using any old soil lying around.
You should use soil that is 70% peat moss (or any other similar material) and 30% compost. It is also a good idea to add some perlite to your mix. Using this type of soil will ensure fast germination for your seeds.
Ideal watering of your tomato seeds
Watering seeds before and during the germination process is very important! Without sufficient water your seeds will dry up and they will not germinate.
Quite oppositely, if you’re giving your seeds a bit too much water they can drown in the soil and start to rot, this will also cause them to die and germination will not take place.
When watering your seeds make sure that you keep the soil moderately moist! It can be a bit tricky watering seeds sometimes as the water may cause the seeds to move around in the pot and this could disturb them.
The best way for you to water your seeds is to place a large water tray under your pot. Keep the water tray full.
When your seeds starts to get a bit thirsty and the soil starts losing its moisture, it will start to absorb the water in the tray, this will ensure that your seeds and water are constantly receiving the optimal amount of water for germination to successfully occur.
How to germinate tomato seeds faster
Depending on where you are and what season you are growing your tomatoes in, it might take you longer than the average gardener for your seeds to germinate. Use these tips below to optimize your seedlings’ germination!
When planting your seeds, the ideal sowing depth is considered to be twice the size of the width of the seed. Sprinkle your seeds in damp soil and slightly press them into the soil.
Once you have done this take some dry soil mixture and slightly layer it over the seeds. Spray some water with a mister on the soil to keep the soil and seeds moist.
Use a plastic bag and place it over your pot for the first week. The plastic bag will act as a “greenhouse” for your seeds and keep the warmth trapped inside, allowing them to germinate faster.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.