Why Are Tomato Seeds Sprouting Inside of My Tomato?

— Written By Shannon Newton
en Español

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Have you ever sliced into a beautiful red tomato to find the seeds sprouting? When the seeds sprout, they look like little wiggly green or white things. To be sure these are not worms, but the seed sprouting inside the tomato. What a surprise!

When harvesting tomatoes from our gardens, place the tomatoes, face up on a counter or window sill out of direct sunlight. Be sure to keep them at room temperature, don’t stack them or put in plastic or paper bags. According to the USDA, this will allow them to ripen properly and develop good flavor and aroma.

So, your tomato is ripe and ready to eat. Then why are the seeds germinating? There are several reasons this can happen, but most importantly the tomato with germinated seeds can be eaten safely.

Seeds germinating inside a tomato is called vivipary. It occurs in overripe fruit when seeds have reached maturity and the natural hormone, abscisic acid (ABA), is reduced. Then, seed dormancy is lost gradually. The tomato fruit allows vivipary since the seeds do not desiccate (dry out) in the moist environment inside the fruit.

Some causes of seeds sprouting in tomatoes are long storage in cool temperatures (below 55 degrees), being overripe, potassium deficiency, over fertilization with nitrogen and again, being overripe, the predominant causes of vivipary.

Enjoy that summer ripe tomato, but don’t be surprised if you see seeds sprouting!