How to Start a Tomato Plant From the Tomato


Growing heirloom, open-pollinated tomatoes in your garden allows you to harvest the seeds each year. You can replant these seeds, ensuring your favorite variety is always available to you. You can also plant the seeds from tomatoes you are given by other gardeners. They must be from heirloom or open-pollinated tomato varieties, otherwise the seeds won't produce the desired fruit. Starting your own tomato plants from your own seeds allows you to also save money in the garden.

Preparing Seed

Step 1

Cut a fully ripe tomato in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and place them in a jar. Use the remaining tomato flesh in a salad or other favorite recipe.

Step 2

Fill the jar with water. Stir the seeds and water twice a day for five days then pour the water off the seeds. All the pulp is now separated from the seeds.

Step 3

Spread the seeds out on paper towels or plates and leave them in a warm, dry room for three to five days. Place the seeds into an envelope once dried, storing them in a cool place until you are ready to plant.

Planting Tomato

Step 1

Fill 3-inch pots with potting mix. Sow one to two tomato seeds per pot, plating them 1/4 inch deep. Water the soil until moist then cover the pot with a plastic bag.

Step 2

Place the pots in a warm room until the seeds germinate, approximately seven days after planting. Remove the plastic and move the pots to a windowsill where the seedlings receive at least eight hours of sun a day.

Step 3

Water the tomatoes as needed to maintain moist but not soggy soil. Rotate the plants in the window every one to two days so all sides receive equal sunlight.

Step 4

Transplant the tomatoes into a full-sun, well-drained garden bed once all danger of frost has passed in spring. Plant the seedlings 1 inch deeper than they were at in their nursery pots and space them 2 to 3 feet apart in the bed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Store more seeds than you plan to grow each year in case any rot or fail to germinate at planting.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Jar
  • Paper towels
  • Envelope
  • Pots
  • Potting mix
  • Plastic bags


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Saving Vegetable Seed
  • University of Illinois Extension: Tomato
Keywords: seed saving, growing tomatoes, heirloom tomato plants

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.