I have been growing cherry tomatoes for about four years now. My method is hardly scientific. I throw the bad fruit on the ground and let them germinate the next year.

Last year I got some different varieties which I thought I would add to my veggie patch. I don't know the names of the different varieties. I took four tomato fruits and directly planted them in soil in December. It is now February and I've only had a good level of success with one of them. I have about 30 seedlings which I have since separated. One of the other tomatoes has only grown two seedlings so far and it is nearly the end of summer.

I also had four seeds from a tomato that I ate that dried out on my cutting board. I sowed them and each of them sprouted within about a week into a healthy seedling.

I partially dug up one of the non-sprouting tomatoes and noticed that a lot of the flesh was still around the seeds and quite moist after over a month. I know it's a bit late in the year with autumn starting in March but if I can get any of them to sprout I am considering keeping them indoors over winter to stop the few cold days we get from killing them.

Should I have cut the tomatoes open to let the seeds dry out before sowing them? Do tomato seeds need to completely dry before they will sprout? Do some varieties not grow from seed?

  • 1
    As a follow up, all four tomatoes have sprouted a lot of seedlings now that I have disturbed the fruit and opened them up more. It's now only 10 days till autumn so the timing's not the best!
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 1:13

3 Answers 3


Tomato seeds that have never been dried can germinate. I've tried it.

Tomatoes can actually germinate inside the fruit, sometimes (wherein the fruit is still good to eat, at that).

I've read that the gel sacks around the seeds are supposed to inhibit germination. You may have greater success if you remove the sacks. I could be wrong, but I don't think drying the seeds is going to affect the process much. Just remove the sacks. Seeds will still germinate with the gel sacks after drying, in my experience (but maybe not as many, and there may be drawbacks to this).

Generally, however, people recommend that you ferment your seeds before storing (and probably before planting). This is supposed to reduce disease, filter out non-viable seeds and stuff.

All tomato varieties (unless they've been genetically modified or crossed with a significantly distant relative of a domestic tomato) should have viable seeds, if they have seeds (parthenocarpic tomatoes are sometimes seedless). It's possible a mutant variety out there won't, but don't count on that making it to the commercial scene (unless they only sell it as plants propagated from cuttings).

  • The fermenting is what's supposed to break down that anti-sprouting protective layer. It's simply down by soaking the seeds in water. The tomatoes juice and meat that left will start to ferment and break down that later. After a couple of days you can rinse and sort good seeds from as and dry them out to increase germination rate. It however isn't required unless you plan on storing seeds. Cherry tomatoes will volunteer easily from dropped fruit.
    – Escoce
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:30
  • They'll still store and germinate with the seed coats on after they're dried (I tried it a number of times in 2014/2015), but the seeds don't look nearly as clean/nice, and I have a suspicion that it may result in more seedlings that get the seed stuck and won't open the cotyledons up (this happened with one variety more than others, however). My personal preference is to manually remove the seed coats before drying and storage, although fermentation may have some advantages over this. It's hard to remove them manually at first, but it gets easier. Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 11:17
  • I don't meant to say removing the seed coat doesn't help germination. It probably does help, as many say it does (but germination is still possible with the seed coat, I mean; I'm not sure of the exact effect on the odds). Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 3:26
  • By seed coat, I meant the gel sacks around the seeds (not what the term refers to in biology). Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 5:57

No need to dry them out usually, and large varieties of tomato will grow exceptionally well with the right conditions. Here in Florida we just slice the tomatoes and lay the slices on top of the soil. The sun does all the work and the seeds fall through the slice and grow up through the rotting tomato slice; almost acting like its own self-made compost in the early stages of growing.

  • Ive never done that for one specific reason, Bugs will get to the seeds far easier not to mention certain other animals like birds, also the sun burns seeds quickly, I dont concur with this method, its best to lay the slice under a very dry soil layer.
    – brandon
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 13:55

When I was in College we visited a sewage plant. There were all these tomato 🍅 plants growing in the sewage. Tomato seeds don't get chewed verymuch when people eat tomatoes or like salsa. So when the seeds get pooped out by humans and enter the sewage system there is the intact seed and fecund sewage to fertilize the seed and provide it with a good start... I noticed this as a child too near sewage pipes... there were a lot of wild tomatoes growing. So in a Zombie Apocalypse tomatoes would start growing shortly after peoplestarted going no. 2 outside because if the grid goes down you can't just go... you need an active sewage system. After the grid goes down people will go outside and those tomato products with seeds will probably germinate.

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