Speed of germination?

DMForcier(8 DFW)March 17, 2013

Normally I grow peppers, but this year I got some San Marzanos in the November seed swap (Thank you, Seed Fairy) so I tossed them in with the latest batch of pepper seeds.

I'm using the baggie method with ambient ~85ðF, and I usually get good germination (of peppers) within 3-10 days, depending on variety.

These Toms have been wet now for 5 days with nary a white protuberance. So what should I expect?

I also have some Seek No Further Love Apples and something else that I will start later. Are tomatoes as variety variable as peps for germination time?


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timmy1(6a ri)

I'm popping tomatoes in 72hrs.

Cherries and grapes in 60hrs.

Sweet peppers 72hrs.

Hot peppers 72-96hrs.

Marigolds and dahlias 30hrs.

Lettuce and broccoli 30hrs.

I'm running a constant temp of 75-82F and about 95% humidity.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 6:28PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Same here - about 3-5 days but that is in seed starting mix with heat of 75-80. Don't care for the baggie method myself. Drop your temps a bit from 85 and see if that helps.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:41PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I've done seed offers going back many years,starting in the AOL Tomato Forum, then to two other Forums, then to here at GW and then and now to another Forum.

I can distribute seed of variety X and I ask for germination reports and for just one variety , fresh seeds, it can range from 100% to zero, yes, zero.

And that's b/c of the range of experience folks have in growing from seed, the mix that they use, how deeply they sow the seeds, the temp at which they grow them, whether they use a heat mat,or not, or other way such as putting the seed containers atop something warm, whether they use those domes, and don't leave one end open and end up cooking the seeds, and on and on.

Oh, and I forgot those who do use the wet towel baggie method, which I can't suggest, b'c so often mold interferes.

Then there are the variables of seed age, and one can't know that from most commercial packs since most, or many, just use a packed by date, which tells you when the seeds were packed, but not the seed age as to when the seeds were produced.

Traded seeds? Usually No info at all about seed age.

I'm just trying to share the many variables I know of as to germination of tomato seeds.

Dennis, I don't think I can give you an answer about your tomato seeds that you mentioned above and that b'c of all the variables I mentioned.

My own experience with pepper seed is again dependent on seed age and all the other variables I mentioned, except hot peppers especially need a higher germination temp than tomato seed and take longer than "cold 'peppers and the same higher temps for eggplant as well.

Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:50AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I could have sworn that the forum FAQ -- last week -- said 5-10 days.

I had started a flat of mostly non-tomatoes and was a bit surprised when at 4 days I still hadn't see any tomato sprouts. So I checked the FAQ, which said 5-10 days. I was surprised the minimum wasn't less than 5, but felt less worried, and had a couple of sprouts later that day (at 4 1/2 days).

Now the "How Do You Start Tomatoes from Seed?" FAQ (one of the new ones) says 10-14 days:


And since the FAQ says to cover with 1/4" of mix, how do people feel about that advice? I don't normally cover with that much.

This post was edited by missingtheobvious on Mon, Mar 18, 13 at 12:49

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 12:45PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Carolyn, thanks. It's about as I suspected.

Yes, I do get mold - depending on the seed source. I treat with 3% hydrogen peroxide to control, and it (the mold) doesn't really seem detrimental to the seeds anyway. I had a batch a few weeks ago that immediately molded, quickly popped anyway, and is now up and growing. I've had others with no mold that just sit there dead. Now I treat to keep it down to a local phenomenon and just ignore it.

NOW, to kill the suspense, I checked the seeds last night shortly after posting this and I got a nice fuzzy tail that fortunately hadn't glommed onto the paper towel. I expect more today. So 5-10 days does seem realistic.

Thanks, all.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 3:35PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Missing, the new one you linked to was done by Tamara who is the Moderator here.

Below I've linked to the one I'm more familiar with since as you can see my name along with many others are listed in the credits.

And don't think we didn't argue about timing of germination or adding other variables which I spoke to above. We did.

As for depth of sowing tomato seeds and many others, should be covered to the depth/size of the seed. When I was sowing my own seed I just made a very shallow trench with a pencil, put in the seeds and with that pencil put the barest of mix over them, then watered in well.


Here is a link that might be useful: Starting from seed

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 5:23PM
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timmy1(6a ri)

When I used to germinate w/o a germination cabinet, it would take 7-10 days on the greenhouse bench. Soil temps on a sunny day will spike to 85 then drop to 65 at night. Cloudy days, soil stays at 65 all day etc. The inconsistency will delay germination and may slightly decrease germ rates. It also does not mention humidity at all... as far as I'm concerned is just as important as temp. The mold does not get a chance to take hold either with the fast turnover and biological fungicide. I get a kick out of the directions on the seed packets claiming germination takes 7-14 days at 75-85? We have them all up in 72hrs with the right tools.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:54PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Thank you for linking that, Carolyn. Usually I'm a bit more careful to check all the possibilities.

Unfortunately my basement's a bit cooler than usual at the moment, and the seeds that didn't germinate in the bathroom aren't happy in the basement under the fluorescents.... Maybe it's time to invest in a heat mat.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 2:10AM
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I am also a seed trader and have also found germination successes from 0 to 100%. Because of that I plant about 10X seeds to what I really want to plant. I very seldom use the towel/baggie method (except for peas). That being said, I GENERALLY find that it takes the peppers longer to germinate than tomatoes.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:29AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Hey DM, that's what happens when you start by learning one of the trickier seeds to germinate first. ;) Tomatoes are easier to start than peppers, I don't bother with the baggie method for them. They do like the bottom heat to germinate, but mine are in soil on seed mats. I don't even cover mine with soil, just make a pit with a skewer and place the seed in, then cover the whole tray with plastic wrap until I start seeing green. 3-4 days. Cheers!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:39AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Hi sunni,

You may have a point. But as General LeMay observed, overkill is a good thing**. ;D

I got another tail this morning. Both are planted rather deep according to the advice above - about 1/4-3/8": pepper depth rather than "seed width" depth. I'll plant the others shallower, and excavate these to see how they're doing before too long.

** When asked at a Congressional hearing why he (SAC commander at the time) wanted to deploy several times the ordnance required to destroy the target, said, "Congressman, I want to watch the rubble bounce." Amen.

This post was edited by DMForcier on Tue, Mar 19, 13 at 17:16

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 3:43PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

*exploding tomatoes*



I'm sure your tomatoes are going to turn out wonderful since you can grow pepers just fine.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:17AM
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Need2SeeGreen(10 (SoCal))

I planted my seeds too deep! Should I try to dig them up, or just hope for the best?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 1:41PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

My tom seeds planted at pepper depth (over 1/4") sprung up like little jack-in-the-boxes! In dirt less than 2 days.

So I guess it's not too deep, Need2SeeGreen.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 3:23PM
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timmy1(6a ri)

Nothing beats a good tomato fight at the end of the season...A good fat juicy one launched just right so it lands about 5 feet short of the enemy. They really can't escape this situation, left, right or back...no matter what, they are going to be picking tomato seeds out of their hair the rest of the day. And it's that split second look in their eyes when they realize they are toast.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 10:14PM
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Need2SeeGreen(10 (SoCal))

Thanks, Dennis! One came up so far.

Timmy1 ... somebody could be eating that tomato!!! ; >

I should be so lucky as to grow enough to throw at someone ...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 2:29PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

On the downside, three of the five seeds have failed to germinate at all...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 2:41PM
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Looks like I am going to have to increase the ambient temp for my pepper seeds to sprout. Only 2 of the 12 seeds have sprouted so far and it's going on 19 days.

I may very well have to attempt starting 10 new seeds. Not sure if seeds that have yet to germinate will now FAIL to germinate, since they've been in contact with moist soil for such a long period of time....?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 4:38PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Some C. chinense can take forever to germinate at lower temps. I saw one site that listed it at 100 days! [fooey] So yes they could still pop up.

Why not try starting some more, but with a different method? Like the 'moist paper towel in a baggie' method. A baggie is easier to keep warm than a box of dirt.

BTW, what is your ambient temp and what are you trying to start?

P.S. If you're growing sweet peppers, we'll give you a temporary pass to the Hot Peppers forum in lieu of the normal "Here, eat this without crying" initiation. You can see sunni there, too. :D

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 5:22PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I cry like a girl (naturally) when forced to eat super hot peppers, which makes all the manly men on the Pepper forum uncomfortable, so they let me slide, too. ;)

DM what temp are your tomato seeds at?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 7:59PM
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timmy1(6a ri)

Some second rate seed companies are repacking/blending old seed. Most states don't require a germ % on packet size. Larger commercial lots are supposedly tested and the germ rate/date is printed on the package.

If you buy from a known reputable source, usually it's not the seed.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:13PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

The temp in the baggies fluctuates around 83ðF. Then they move into starter cells at room temperature - around 70ðF.

For some reason my germination rate of late has been declining while my survival rate in the starter cells has increased. Could be a combination of older seeds and warmer room...

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 4:17PM
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