Tomato seeds not germinating might indicate that the seeds are growing in the wrong temperatures or experiencing a lack of oxygen. In this expert guide, we discuss the most common reasons that prevent tomato seeds from germinating.

Germinating Tomato Seed

Continue reading to know more and how you can get them to sprout fast.

Why Are My Tomato Seeds Not Germinating?

Tomato seeds are not germinating because they might be experiencing an unsuitable environment, incorrect soil conditions, or improper temperature. Let us learn about the most common reasons in detail before we learn to tackle them.

– Incorrectly Watered

Tomato seeds are delicate and overwatering them can cause them immense damage. Excess water prevents the seeds from getting enough oxygen, eventually leading to their death. So avoid this as waterlogging in the soil can severely hamper tomato seeds germination.

At the same time, do not under-water as this will then prevent the seeds from breaking out of their outer coats to sprout.

– Too Much Heat or Too Cold

If you expose your seeds to too much heat or cold, be assured they are not going to germinate. The tomato seed germination temperature needs to be between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you expose the seeds to temperatures that are off this range, the seeds won’t be able to cope or germinate.

If the weather outdoors is too cold, tomato seeds will not sprout. Frost and snow are not ideal conditions for this warm crop.

Tomato plants are tropical, and extreme cold can damage them completely. Avoid sowing seeds in the winter months when the soil temperature is too cold for the seeds to handle.

Reasons for Tomato Seeds Not Germinating

– Lack of Oxygen

Seeds require oxygen to germinate and sprout. If you are using tightly packed soil that is not aerated, the seeds will not germinate. You need a well-aerated growing medium to ensure a higher percentage of germination from the seeds.

– Sown at the Wrong Depth

The tiny tomato seeds need to be sown at the right depth. Sow them too deep and it would be difficult for the seeds to push their way up towards the ground. Sow them near the surface and the risk of them being washed away heightens.

The right depth to plant tomato seeds will be about ¼ inch deep into the soil.

– Animals

Birds and rodents may find their way to the tomato seeds and can dig them out to feast on them, leaving behind nothing to germinate. Solve this problem by initially planting seeds in containers in a more secure spot.

– Old or Poor Quality Seeds

Tomato seeds that are older than three years or of poor quality will not germinate. Even if such seeds manage to sprout, the plants will be weak and may wilt quickly.

– Excessively Fertilized Soil

Tomato seeds do not require much fertilization. Excess nutrition at this stage can result in tomato seed burn.

Let the seeds germinate first and do not fertilize or use uncomposted manure at this stage until you spot tomato seeds sprouting their first leaves.

How Long Does It Take for Tomato Seeds To Germinate?

Tomato sprouting time can take anywhere between 6 to 11 days to germinate, provided they are kept under the best-suited conditions. The important factors that contribute to the germination of tomato seeds are:

  • Temperatures should be between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Soil should be slightly moist.
  • High humidity with good air circulation is a must.
  • New, high-quality seeds have to be used. The older the seeds, the more time it will take for them to germinate.

How To Germinate Tomato Seeds

Providing the correct soil and warm temperatures are vital to germinate healthy tomato seeds. You can easily grow and find success in germinating tomato seeds by following these simple steps.

– Get the Soil Right

The right soil to start the germination process of your tomato seeds is a sterile, soilless mix. Avoid regular garden soil as it will not be well-draining. Also, garden soil may have pathogens that can hamper the growth of the seeds.

– Germinate Under Warmth

Tomato seeds germinate best when there is adequate light and warmth at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are in a warm place, you can directly sow them in the soil. Seeds need a sunny spot with at least four hours of direct sun. The warmer it is, the faster they are going to germinate.

If temperatures are cold, germinate them indoors in a warm spot before moving them outside. Use heat lamps or heat mats to provide them with warmth indoors.

– Place Them in Containers

Start with small containers at least three or four inches in height. Before you place the seeds in the container, lightly moisten the soil. Keep it firm but not pressed or compact as the soil in the container needs to be aerated.

You can begin by placing two or three seeds at equal distances from each other in the container and covering it with adequate topsoil. Follow this by dribbling or spraying water with a plant mister.

– Transplanting

Do not transplant your tomato seedling in the frost as it can be quite damaging to the seeds. Keep them protected until the seasonal warmth arrives. Early spring is an ideal time to start transplanting them into the ground.

– Repotting

If you notice your tomato seedlings over time growing and developing thicker foliage, re-pot them into larger containers. Avoid constraining the plants in small pots as this may restrict their growth.

– Fertilizer Use

Fertilize only after you notice true leaves, which is right after the seed leaves have occurred. Use a diluted water-soluble fertilizer for additional nourishment.


Make Them Germinate Faster

Pre-soaking the seeds and keeping them indoors are effective ways to make tomato seeds germinate faster. You can make your tomato seeds germinate faster, if you wish, by taking these important actions.

– Pre-soak Seeds

Soak the tomato seeds in warm water overnight before planting them. This will soften their coat and speed up germination.

– Keep Them Protected

As much as this point has been repeated throughout this article, it is essential to protect the seeds at the nascent stage from extremes of temperature. Temperature is an important factor when it comes to the rate of germination to a large extent.

Help Growth in Tomato Seeds

– Keep Them Indoors

If it is too cold to sow seeds, you can germinate your tomato seeds under headlamps indoors. This will give them a head start and the seeds will germinate at a faster rate. The artificial light will give it warmth, keeping it away from the frost and cold weather outdoors.

– Monitor the Soil and Air

Monitor the soil to keep it consistently moist, and make sure to keep the air humid. Seeds tend to germinate faster when they detect moisture in the air and a slightly moist soil.

– Scratch the Surface

Give the seeds a bit of stimulation by scarifying them. This involves scratching the surface of the seed to speed up the rate of germination. You will be surprised how this small step can increase the number of seeds that will end up sprouting.

Storing Tomato Seeds for Future Germination

You can store tomato seeds for future germination by ensuring they are kept sealed in the right environment. Here is how you can go about it.

  • Scoop out tomato pulp with the seeds into a glass container. Top it with water.
  • Leave this for two days. The process of fermentation that will occur will break down the seed coat and remove any bacteria present.
  • After two days, swirl the jar to find the seeds settled below and the pulp floating on top.
  • Using a strainer, separate the seeds carefully and remove all the materials stuck to it.
  • Gently spread the cleaned seeds out on a paper towel to absorb the remaining water.
  • Dry the seeds out further by placing them on a plate in a warm and dry area.
  • In three weeks’ time, you will have dried tomato seeds ready to be stored until the next germination season.
  • Keep them in an air-tight container and place in a cool and dry place.

Germination of tomato seeds


How often do I water tomato seeds for germination?

Tomato seeds should be watered enough to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Aim to water them every 2-3 days.

How long is too long for tomato seeds to germinate?

Tomato seeds typically germinate within 5-11 days. If they haven’t sprouted after 14 days, they may be unlikely to germinate.

Do tomato seeds germinate better indoors or outdoors?

Tomato seeds can germinate well both indoors and outdoors, but indoor conditions can provide more control over factors like temperature and moisture.


Tomato seeds germinate when the situation and environment are just right for them. Let us summarize what we learned through these quick points:

  • Excessive heat or cold will hamper the germination of tomato seeds.
  • Seeds should not be overwatered or underwatered for them to germinate.
  • Do not fertilize the soil at the germination stage.
  • Keep the soil moist and maintain humidity in the air.
  • Avoid old and poor-quality seeds as they seldom deliver high-yielding tomato sprouts.
  • Sow seeds at the right depth — not too deep and not near the surface.
  • You can easily store tomato seeds by drying them to be used for future germination.
  • Tomato seeds can take anywhere between 6 to 11 days to germinate, provided they are kept under the best-suited conditions.
  • Pre-soaking the seeds and keeping them indoors are effective ways to make tomato seeds germinate faster.

After reading this article, you now know what to do when your tomato seeds are not germinating. Go ahead and grow your baby tomato plants until complete maturity without any issues.

5/5 - (17 votes)
Evergreen Seeds