Can You Grow Tomatoes From Whole Tomatoes?

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Tomatoes (​Lycopersicon​ ​esculentum​) are one of the easiest plants to grow from the seeds of store-bought fruits. In fact, it's not uncommon for tomatoes that have gone uneaten to actually sprout inside of the fruit in a process called vivipary, meaning "live birth" in Latin. If you want to grow tomatoes and already have a tomato in your kitchen, you have all you need to grow your own tomato plants.



While you can grow tomatoes from whole tomatoes, it’s typically best to cut up the fruit first to make it easier for the seeds to get nutrients from the surrounding soil.

Growing Tomatoes From Slices

The best way to grow a tomato plant from a tomato isn't to plant the tomato whole but to first slice the fruit in horizontal slices about 1/4 inch thick. Add gardening soil to a wide pot with drainage holes, leaving a few inches of room at the top. Then, lay tomato slices on the soil before covering them with a thin layer of soil. Place the pot somewhere with dappled shade and water lightly every day.


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You'll start to see plenty of seedlings pop up within two weeks, and at this time, you'll want to transplant the strongest seedlings to their forever homes. While growing the plants in a garden will make it more difficult to protect your tomato plants from the elements, it does have the advantage of giving your plants as much room as they need for their roots, and tomatoes do have notably deep roots, reaching as far as 4 feet underground, according to the University of California Cooperative Extension, Los Angeles County. If you're growing the plants in pots, choose a pot at least 18 inches deep. When transplanting, take care not to damage the fragile stems and roots.

What About Vivipary Tomatoes?

If a tomato on your counter has already sprouted, slicing it horizontally could damage the already healthy, happy sprouts. While you could grow tomato plants by simply planting the whole sprouted tomato, it's best to kick-start the growth of your plants by pulling the tomato apart gently, carefully separating as many of the largest, healthiest sprouts as possible. This will allow the roots to reach your soil, providing them with the nutrients they need to grow as soon as possible. Plant the sprouts in an 18-inch-tall pot or directly in your garden. Be sure to pinch off any competing sprouts that come up after the first successful sprouts.


Why Tomato Fruits Sprout

Many people who are shocked to find their tomatoes sprouting on the counter think there's something wrong with the fruit. In fact, the way tomatoes are transported and sold makes them primed and ready to start sprouting. That's because the abscisic acid hormone that keeps tomato seeds dormant quickly starts depleting from the tomato when it is stored for more than a few days in temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the refrigerated containers used to transport tomatoes to stores typically keep the fruits below this temperature, it is common for the abscisic acid to wear off when the tomatoes are stored on a warm kitchen counter.




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