Saving Tomato Seeds:
Which Varieties Should You Save For Next Year?

When it comes to saving tomato seeds, you can choose almost any tomato from any plant and have a degree of success. But these tips will help you optimize your efforts to get the best and strongest seeds for next year.

Choose open pollinated varieties

Save seeds from “open pollinated” (OP) or heirloom tomatoes. These are varieties that have been reproduced for generations. They are true to their type from their own seed, which means the next season’s plants maintain the same characteristics as they previous one. Open pollinated tomatoes are known for their consistent traits over time.

In contrast, hybrid tomatoes are a careful cross between two genetically different tomato varieties. Commercial seed producers collect pollen from one variety and used to pollinate flowers of another variety.

Expert gardeners advise against saving tomato seeds from hybrids and using them to grow plants. It’s not that hybrid tomato seeds won’t produce plants – they will. But there’s no way to tell whether or not the fruit will be good. Second generation hybrid tomatoes have questionable genetic make up and resulting tomatoes can yield inconsistent fruit.

All the same, many home gardeners have had considerable success saving hybrid tomato seeds and using them to start plants the following season. Best Tomato Dirt recommendation: save some hybrid seeds for fun, if you’d like. But concentrate your seed saving efforts on heirloom (open pollinated) tomatoes.

Choose your “best” tomatoes

It’s tempting to eat your crown jewels of the garden – your very best, healthiest tomatoes. But remember this:

good tomatoes = good seeds = good plants next year
Save just a few of your “best” tomatoes for their seeds. You can still eat the meaty part of the tomato. “Best” can be defined by several criteria:
  • biggest plant
  • healthiest plant
  • tastiest tomato
  • biggest tomato
  • best coloring on tomato
Decide what's important to you and choose accordingly!

Choose ripe tomatoes

Save seeds from tomatoes that are in their prime, but not over-ripe. Seeds inside over-ripe tomatoes may have already started to rot or even germinate.

Choose several tomatoes

Saving tomato seeds from multiple fruits (rather than just one or two) of a particular variety gives you a strong selection of seeds. Boost your seed collection even more when you save seeds from a specific variety at different times during the season. You can use extra saved seeds to give as gifts or to exchange with other gardeners on a seed exchange forum.

Choose tomatoes from plants that are set apart

Generally, tomatoes pollinate themselves. But be aware that nature can take quirky turns. If you have different tomato varieties planted in close proximity to each other along with a healthy bee and insect population, there’s a chance that varieties may cross-pollinate. If you’re resolved to have pure seed of a single variety, plant your tomatoes six feet apart from other types. You can separate them by good companion plants for further insurance.


More on saving tomato seeds

How to save tomato seeds to plant next year ...

Easy seed saving method for tomato seeds ...

Why save tomato seeds? 10 great reasons ...

Saving Tomato Seeds FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) ...

How to make your own tomato seed tape ...

Seed Trading 101: how to trade tomato seeds ...

Where to find seed exchange forums to swap seeds ...

How to grow tomatoes from seeds ...

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