Botany 101: Why are There Seedlings Sprouting From my Tomato?!

January 4, 2024

What in the TOMATO??

Have you ever had a tomato that’s sitting out on the counter (where they should always be, never in the refrigerator!), and it looked like little aliens were sprouting inside the fruit?

For your botanical factoid of the day, this is called vivipary! Vivipary in fruits happen when the germination inhibiting hormone in the seeds breaks down, and exposed to the moisture in the warm cozy fruit the mature seeds inside the fruit start germinating and growing. Eventually they will burst through the skin of the tomato (“An organism. Open the hatch!).

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Tiny seedlings have enough resources stored up in the seed to allow them to grow this way…but eventually they’ll need more light, water, and nutrients to keep growing. Now, you don’t want to eat these tomato seedlings - they are in the nightshade family and contain toxins. BUT you can try planting them, know that if they come from a hybrid tomato, your seedlings will have more randomized genetics and who knows what you’ll get!

To learn how to grow one or a few micro tomato plants indoors read 10 Steps to Grow Tiny Tomatoes Indoors from Seed to Harvest

To learn a bit more on how to stagger and stage grow lighting for your tomato plant indoors read Grow Lighting: Tiny Tomatoes Indoors

Vivipary in a tomato fruit

Vivipary in a tomato fruit
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Plant dormancy is a complicated and nuanced biological function. While the word gets thrown around a lot to describe many plants or stages of plant development, you might be surprised that tiny many cases there is no true dormancy, but rather quiescence, or a resting period where growth can still occur much more slowly. I get into this in my Indoor Plants and Botany courses (and I have a whole class on plant dormancy that I may put online if you’re interested).

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