When developing tomato plants from seed, it’s critical to understand germination. Know what to expect and how to troubleshoot if things don’t go quite as planned.
Germination is the first step toward making a plant, when a seed breaks open to form a root, then a stem, then leaves, at which point it can be called a seedling. Tomato seeds germinate in 5 to 10 days under ideal circumstances. When you observe a green plant emerge from the growing media, you’ll know the seeds have germinated. It is a moment to rejoice.
The rate of germination of a certain package of tomato seeds is determined by the source and age of the seed. This is referred to as the seed’s viability. The older the seed, the lower the germination rate and the lower the viability. Increase your chances of getting the number of plants you desire by planting 25% or more seeds than you actually think you’ll need. Some may not germinate, but you will still have plenty.
Temperature may be the source of your tomato seed germination troubles. Temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for germination. Temperatures much lower than 70 degrees will cause slower germination, and if temperatures dip far below, germination may not occur at all. Similarly, temperatures considerably over 80 degrees Fahrenheit might cause germination to fail. If you need to raise the temperature, a plant heating pad may assist.
How to Start Tomato Seeds Indoors
Tomato seeds may be planted immediately outside, but depending on your environment, they may not have enough time to develop to full size and yield. Tomato transplants are available for purchase at your local garden centers, but you can also start your own tomato plants indoors using seeds and seed-starting techniques and tools. Tomato seeds should be started indoors 6-8 weeks before your last frost date in spring, which is the average date of last frosts in your area. This gives them time to develop into a healthy transplant before being transplanted outside.
Tomato seeds should be started indoors in soilless seed-starting mix, which is usually a mix of peat and perlite; don’t start seeds indoors in regular garden soil, which will hold water and could also contain organisms harmful to baby plants. Start seeds in plastic planting trays or plantable peat pots, or reuse yogurt cups or other household things – just make sure the containers are well cleaned before planting.
When beginning seedlings inside, the temperature should be between 70 and 80 degrees. To assist germination, the growth mix should be moist but not damp. Seeds don’t need light to germinate, although after germination, you should ideally give the seedlings 14 or more hours of light a day. If you’re growing plants on a windowsill, make sure they’re in a warm, bright position with plenty of natural light. Instead, you may supplement with a fluorescent grow lamp to enhance the number of hours of light.
When seedlings have been growing indoors for several weeks and look strong and healthy, it’s time to start thinking about moving them outside. It’s best to set tomato transplants out in your garden after your last frost date. This offers you and your tomatoes an advantage for the rest of the season. To be safe, we suggest waiting a few weeks after the latest frost date to transfer your tomato transplants outside.
Are tomato seeds hard to germinate?
Tomato seeds should germinate within 5-6 days if you can keep the soil temperature around 80º F. Peppers need a bit more time and a little higher temperature (7-8 days at 85o F). Keep in mind that this is soil temperature, not ambient temperature.
Should tomato seeds be soaked before planting?
QUESTION: Do I need to soak tomato seeds before planting them? ANSWER: Soaking your tomato seeds before planting, or letting them sprout on a damp paper towel, can help increase the rate of successful germination, resulting in more healthy plants that make it to your garden.
How do you speed up tomato germination?
Temperature, humidity, and air movement are all important. Setting them on a heating mat to keep the soil at a warm 70-85°F will help tomato seeds germinate faster. Covering them with a humidity dome will also help to keep them warm, and prevents them from drying out too quickly. Soaking your seeds may also hasten the process.
What is the fastest way to germinate tomato seeds?
A: The test described in this article is the quickest technique to germinate a tomato seed. Put tomato seeds in a plastic bag between two folded moist paper towels. You’ll get tomato sprouts in about a week if you keep the bag slightly open to enable air to flow.