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Tomato Seeds Germination Time – Including Tips & Tricks!

Tomato Seeds Germination Time – Including Tips & Tricks!

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If you are looking for tomato seeds germination tips and you have come to the right place. When done wrong, it can take over 40 days to sprout tomato seeds, or they may never sprout!

If you are a first-time tomato grower, planting seeds from scratch and waiting for them to germinate can be daunting!

I’ll tell you exactly how long it takes for a tomato seed to germinate and provide you with the most successful methods.

My Sprouted Tomato Seeds (Seedlings)
My Sprouted Tomato Seeds (Seedlings)

Tomato Seeds Germination Time

It typically takes a tomato seed 5 to 10 days to germinate. Conditions must be optimal for germination to succeed. You need viable seeds, temperatures between 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21-27 degrees Celsius), damp soil, and regular watering.

Ultimately, I will also share two secrets to growing to speed up the process few people know.

Tomato Seeds Germination Time
Tomato Seeds Germination Time

Stages of Growing Tomatoes From Seed

Stage 1: PlanningPlan what tomato varieties you will grow according to your climate. Ensure you have all the tools needed.Before planting season
Stage 2: SowingUse a seed tray to sow and plant your tomato seeds.6-8 weeks before last frost
Stage 3: GerminationIn the germination phase it is essential that the temperature, humidity and soil are on point.5-10 days
Stage 4: Seedling CareOnce the seeds hav e sprouted observe the seedlings. Ensure proper lighting so they do not grow leggy.2-4 weeks
Stage 5: TransplantingI transplant seedlings once they produces at least 2 sets of true leaves.5-7 weeks after sowing
Stage 6: Harden OffWhen you plan to grow your tomato plants outside, hardening off is essential. Slowly move. the plantlets outside1-2 weeks
Stage 7: PlantingTomato plants prefer sunny locations receiving full sun. Wait until after the last frost.After last frost
Stage 8: Growth and MaintenanceI fertilize tomato plants once a week. Add support in the form of sticks or trellises. Water sufficiently and remove dead leaves.Throughout growing season
Stage 9: FloweringTomates produce yellow blooms. These are needed to produce tomato fruits.4-6 weeks after planting
Stage 10: FruitingWhen flower turn from yellow to green, tomato fruits start to grow.6-8 weeks after flowering
Stage 11: HarvestingNot every tomato will be fully red at the same time. Harvest them once they are fully red.Ongoing as tomatoes ripen
Stage 12: Post-HarvestStore some of the seeds from your tomatoes for the next season. Eat tomatoes as they grow.Immediately after harvesting

Tomato Seeds Viability

Sprouts of the tomato seed grow 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

The reason may be that the seed has lost its viability and potency. It’s possible that the seed has become dormant or dead; if this is the case, your seed will not germinate soon! 

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 can keep and store them for longer 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. When you buy your seeds, you do so from a trusted and reliable source! 

When to give up on a Tomato Seed?

If a tomato seed is not sprouting after 40 days, it is time to give up on it. Older tomato seeds can take longer to germinate. Low temperatures and humidity are also reasons for seeds to take longer to sprout.

But it is just part of nature that not all the seeds will make it. I place 2-3 seeds per seed tray or pot. This way, you end up with a plant in almost all the trays or pots.

I also pluck the weaker plant if multiple are growing per pot. This way, tomato plants do not have to fight for nutrients.

Why are Tomato Seeds Not Germinating?

Tomato seeds are not germinating because they are not viable, not viable anymore, or because the potting mix, the humidity or the temperature are not on point.

Some sources say tomato seeds are viable 4-6 years. Other sources claim tomato seeds can be viable up to 10 years if you believe Tomato Dirt.

Whaterver the reason, it is a fact that not all the seeds will be viable. This is why it is important to plant multiple seeds per container.

How to Test the Viability of Tomato Seeds?

It can be disheartening when you plant your tomato seeds; they don’t grow because they are already dead. To avoid this, make sure you test the viability of the seeds before you plant them! 

A great test is to fill a medium-sized bowl with water. After that, take your seeds and put them in a water bowl. Slightly stir the mixture and leave the seeds in the water for 5 minutes.

The dormant or dead seeds will float to the top, and the viable seeds will sink to the bottom. Remove these floating seeds, as they will not germinate. 

Not all tomato seeds will be viable. The fresher the seeds the better
Not all tomato seeds will be viable. The fresher the seeds the better

The Ideal Temperature for Tomato Seed Germination

The ideal temperature for a tomato seed to germinate is around 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21-27 degrees Celsius). 

If the temperature is too cold, the seeds may not have enough warmth to germinate.

The University of California mentions it can take over 40 days for seeds to germinate at a temperature of 50°F (10°C).

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.

What Lighting is needed for Tomato seed Germination?

Pro Tip: For the germination, no light is needed. However, I used a grow light right after the seeds sprouted. This prevents tomato plantlets from becoming leggy.

Tomato seeds do not need sunlight for the germination process. However, they need a dark and damp environment with a moderate and cool temperature. 

I use a grow light to prevent tomato plantlets from becoming leggy
I use a grow light to prevent tomato plantlets from becoming leggy

Ideal Soil Conditions for Tomato Seed Germination 

Pro Tip: I use rock wool for seed germination. It has great water retention properties; you can use it multiple times.

Rockwool works great to germinate seeds
Rockwool works great to germinate seeds

Having optimal soil conditions is extremely important for seed germination! A common mistake you might make when planting tomato seeds is using the wrong soil.

When planting tomato seeds, you should ensure that the soil you use is not filled with too many large pieces of organic matter.

Matter such as stones, pieces of wood, and large debris will restrict your seeds from growing upwards out of the soil. 

Old soil and soil filled with clay is usually quite dry and compacted.

I advise against using this type of soil for planting seeds. It restricts the seed’s movement, and will struggle to grow roots and stem from the soil. 

I would advise anyone who wants to grow tomatoes from scratch to either make your potting soil or buy potting soil from a close-by gardening center. There are specific seedling mixes that are great for tomatoes.

Use soil that is 70% peat moss and 30% compost . You can add some perlite to your mix. Using this type of soil will ensure fast germination for your seeds.

Ideal Watering of your Tomato Seeds

Pro Tip: I water daily using a spraying bottle for the first few days until the seeds have sprouted. If the seeds get dry, even for a day or two at this stage, they won’t grow.

Watering seeds before and during the germination process is very important! Without sufficient water, your seeds will dry up and 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 occur. 

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. 

Placing a large water tray under your pot is the best way to water your seeds. Keep the water tray full.

When your seeds get a bit thirsty and the soil starts losing its moisture, it will 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 occur successfully

How to Germinate Tomato Seeds Faster 

Pro Tip: I use a seed tray and seed starter kit. A humidity dome (plastic cover) ensures the humidity stays high. I also put a seedling heat mat underneath so there is warmth from below. This way, roots grow much faster, and seeds sprout earlier.

Seed tray using a dome improve the humidity. Use a seedling heatmat underneath for ideal conditions
A seed tray using a dome improves the humidity. Use a seedling heat mat underneath for ideal conditions.

At what Depth should Tomato Seeds be Planted?

When planting your seeds, the ideal sowing depth is 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. 

Place a plastic bag 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. 

How to Germinate Tomato Seeds on a Paper Towel?

You can also use a paper towel to germinate tomato seeds. This is how you do it:

  1. Take a paper towel.
  2. Spray it 2-3 times using a spray bottle with water.
  3. Put the tomato seeds on it.
  4. Fold the paper towel and put it in a ziplock bag.
  5. Close the ziplock bag.
  6. Put the ziplock bag in a warm location

My 2 Secrets to Speed Up the Tomato Seed Germination Process

  • Soak the seeds in black team 1 day before planting. The seeds will soak up nutrients and humidity and will sprout much quicker.
  • If you use Rockwool, soak it in a nutrient solution, then press it slightly. This way, the Rockwool has the ideal wetness and already contains essential nutrients for the plantlets to grow.

I hope my tips and tricks for tomato seed germination will help you to increase your success rate and speed up the process!