How to Germinate a Tomato Seed


Tomato plants are sun-loving vegetables that do best in dry, hot weather. Tomato plants do not like frost, but you can start to germinate your tomato seeds six to eight weeks before the last frost to get a head start on the season. By the time the weather warms up, your tomatoes will be well on their way to fruiting.

Step 1

Mix one part vermiculite with one part peat and pour it into several small paper cups. Alternately, use a seed tray.

Step 2

Add water to the soil until it is damp, but not wet. push the tomato seeds 1/4 inch into the dirt and cover them. Plant two to three seeds in each cup.

Step 3

Place the cups somewhere warm, such as on the back of the refrigerator. Tomatoes do not require light to germinate, but they germinate quickly if the temperature is kept around 75 to 80 degrees F.

Step 4

Check the cups every day and add water if the soil starts to get dry. The tomato seeds should germinate in anywhere from three to 14 days, depending on the variety.

Step 5

Place the tomato seedlings in a window with good light once they start to sprout, or place them under an overhead fluorescent grow lamp. Ideally, tomato plants should have between 12 and 16 hours of sunlight per day.

Step 6

Transplant each seedling into an individual, 4-inch diameter pot when it grows three sets of leaves. This will help them develop a good root system.

Step 7

Harden your tomato plants by bringing them outside in the shade during the day and inside at night for a week. This will prepare them to be transplanted.

Step 8

Transplant your tomato seedlings outside. Bury them up to just below the lowest set of leaves. The entire section underground will begin to produce roots, resulting in a stronger plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper cup
  • Vermiculite
  • Peat moss


  • Starting Tomatoes From Seed
  • Heirloom Tomatoes: Seed-Starting Tips
  • Victory Seeds: Learn to Grow Tomatoes from Seeds
Keywords: tomato plants, tomato seeds, tomato seelings