How to Plant Tomato Seeds Indoors

Overview

Tomato lovers crave these juicy, flavorful vegetables grown in home gardens. Many gardeners choose to buy seedlings and plant those directly into the ground because tomatoes have a reputation for being finicky young sprouts. But starting them indoors from seed is also possible and is sometimes the only option when it comes to heirloom varieties. Coaxing them to grow is easy. What is tricky is the timing and light availability. Follow basic steps to help avoid disappointment.

Planting

Step 1

Sow seeds shallowly, about one-fourth inch deep. Plant one seed in each section of a plastic flat, or separately in small peat pots or cleaned cardboard or plastic containers that used to hold milk or fruit, such as strawberries. Do not start the seeds too soon or you may end up with "leggy" plants that outgrow their pots or have long, weak stems because of inadequate sunlight available indoors.

Step 2

Water thoroughly. Keep the seeds and soil moist until the seeds sprout, but not soggy.

Step 3

Place the seedlings in a south-facing window and cover the containers with plastic wrap to create a warm greenhouse effect until the seedlings emerge. Remove the plastic wrap as soon as you see the first green tips of the plants emerging from the soil's surface.

Step 4

Make sure the seedlings receive as much light as possible and keep the soil consistently moist. Use grow lights if the plants receive less than 12 hours of light daily, and place the lights within six inches of the plants.

Step 5

Transfer the plants to deeper pots if they are being grown in shallow containers or flats when they have four leaves. Tip the plants into your hand and carefully ease the seedlings out of their original containers with a spoon. Plant them so only the bottom leaves are above the soil line.

Step 6

Transplant the plants to yet another container if they have reached up to 10 inches tall and it's not yet time to plant them outdoors.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Containers
  • Water
  • Plastic wrap
  • Grow light
  • Spoon

References

  • TomatoGardeningGuru.com: Growing Tomatoes from Seeds
  • HeirloomTomatoes.bizland.com: Seed Starting Tips
  • University of Illinois Extension: Tomato
Keywords: planting tomato seeds, indoor tomato seeds, growing tomatoes indoors

About this Author

Joy Brown is a newspaper reporter at "The Courier" and www.thecourier.com in Findlay, Ohio. She has been writing professionally since 1995, primarily in Findlay and previously at the "Galion (Ohio) Inquirer" and "Toledo City Paper." Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and history from Miami University.