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Buying young tomato plants from a good gardener saves you a little work, but you have far fewer choices than you would if you grew your own. However, if you choose the right time for sowing and ensure good conditions during germination, you can call your first home-grown tomato plants your own after just over two weeks.

germination time

What does the germination time depend on?

When your tomato seeds start germinating mainly depends on the following factors:

  • variety
  • old
  • air and soil moisture
  • temperature
  • lighting conditions


While modern tomato varieties germinate after about 10 to 14 days under optimal conditions, it can take up to six weeks for old varieties. While you may not have to wait quite that long, you should start with a duration of at least four weeks calculate.

Tomato varieties, ox heart tomato


Not only the variety but also the age of your tomato seeds plays a not insignificant role in the timing of germination. With increasing age, they lose their ability to germinate. Ideally, only use fresh seeds. For purchased seeds, you will find a best-before date on the packaging. This should not be exceeded.

air and soil moisture

Tomato seeds germinate best in a warm, humid climate and on moist substrate. If you grow your plants indoors as early as February, make sure the air humidity is sufficiently high. Dry air, for example near a heater, is not particularly beneficial.
Stretch a transparent film over the seed pots or place them in a room or mini greenhouse. It is easier to keep the humidity constant there. Daily airing prevents any mold formation.

Regularly water the seedlings with lukewarm, slightly stale water. Careful spraying of the seedlings or watering from below is ideal. To do this, place the growing pots a few centimeters deep in a water-filled vessel or in a planter. But make sure that no waterlogging can arise.


Tomato seeds need a relatively constant temperature to germinate. Around 20 °C to 24 °C is ideal. When growing old tomato varieties, the temperature can even be a little higher, but 30 °C should not be exceeded here either. If the temperature drops too far, the germination time may be considerably longer. Just one degree less means you have to wait a few days longer for germination. Cultivation outdoors is only recommended when night-time temperatures are above 15 °C.

lighting conditions

Botanists refer to the tomatoes as light germinator. That means tomato seeds need adequate light for germination. If they are too deep in the ground, no plants can develop from them. Therefore, only lightly cover the seeds with soil, a maximum of 0.5 cm should not be exceeded.
The young seedlings burn very easily in the blazing sun, although they also need a lot of light. Cultivation in a bright place without direct sunlight is ideal. At least the midday sun should be avoided. A window sill facing east or west is therefore more suitable than one facing south.

affect germination time

You can certainly take some measures to ensure that your tomatoes germinate a little earlier and/or more reliably, because the conditions of sowing and the care of the freshly sown seeds and young seedlings are up to you. The following measures are suitable for this:

  • Bathe seeds in lukewarm water before sowing
  • Sterilize growing substrate
  • Time sowing optimally
  • maintain optimal temperature
  • Keep seed evenly moist
  • Avoid waterlogging

Soak the seeds in lukewarm water, chamomile tea or a garlic decoction for a few hours. You are welcome to leave the bath overnight, for example on the heater, so that the bath does not get too cold. By sterilizing the substrate, you make it sterile. This allows the young plants to grow healthily. Uniform temperature and humidity contribute to a good supply of nutrients to the seedlings, while waterlogging causes them to rot easily.

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