How to Sprout Tomato Seeds in Water


Nurseries have an abundance of tomato plants and seedlings all ready for you to plant. The trouble is, most of them carry the same old varieties. While these tried and true tomatoes will most likely do fine in your garden, this year you could try something different. There are hundreds of different tomatoes to choose from when you start the plants from seed.

Sprouting the Tomato Seeds

Step 1

Fill the water tight container with 1 tbsp. of warm water. Add 20 to 30 tomato seeds. Put the cap on the container. Shake gently. Put the container in a paper bag. Tomato seeds require darkness to germinate.

Step 2

Place the bag in a warm place but not in front of a heating vent. It should be warm, but not hot. If you have a sunny window, wrap the container in black plastic and place it on the window sill. The plastic attracts the heat and keeps the water warm. Check to make sure the water isn't getting hot.

Step 3

Open the container after a few days. Gently drain the old water out by slowly tipping the container. Add 1 tbsp. of fresh warm water to the seeds.

Step 4

Change the water every three days. If you see a fuzzy filament coming out of the seed it has sprouted. Most tomato seeds take about a week to sprout. However, they can take up to two weeks.

Planting the Sprouts

Step 1

Poke holes in the bottom of the cups. Fill with fresh new potting soil to within a 1/2 inch of the top. Water until the soil is soaked.

Step 2

Remove the tomato sprouts from the water by draining through a strainer. Pick up the sprouts with tweezers. Immediately place the sprouted seeds in the cups. Cover with 1/4 inch of soil. Spray with water.

Step 3

Place the cup in a sunny window or under grow lights.

Tips and Warnings

  • Tomato seedlings are toxic--they are not edible like other sprouted seeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Tomato seeds
  • Water tight container
  • Water
  • Tablespoon
  • Paper bag
  • Strainer
  • Tweezers
  • Spray bottle
  • Potting soil
  • Paper cups
  • Pencil


  • "The Country Garden"; Charlie Ryrie; 2003
  • Washington State University Extension: Sprouting Seeds
  • The Farm: Growing Sprouts

Who Can Help

  • Heirloom Tomatoes: Seed Starting
Keywords: sprouting tomato seeds, germinating tomato seeds, seeds in water

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.