Tomatoville® Gardening Forums

Tomatoville® Gardening Forums (
-   General Discussion (
-   -   Helmet Heads - Species Prone (

mobiledynamics April 25, 2018 08:51 AM

Helmet Heads - Species Prone
So I germinated 2 seeds of a particular species - Solar Flare. Both came up with Helmet Heads that were literally epoxied on. I tried water misting/softening/coaxing the head off but it was as if it was glued onto the cotylen leaves. Strange growth as the stem just keeps on getting bigger and thicker everyday.

Just for the hell of it, I decided to put in 3 more seeds to germinate. Sofar, they all have helmet heads as well. Am I crazy or are paticular tomato seeds prone to helmet heads !

brownrexx April 25, 2018 09:03 AM

Do you have other varieties that grow in the exact same conditions WITHOUT helmet heads?

mobiledynamics April 25, 2018 09:09 AM

Nope. It's the weirdest of all things. The seed coat is literally vertically - locking in the cot. leaves.

Labradors2 April 25, 2018 12:34 PM

You could try sprouting them in wet paper towel and leave them until the cotyledons emerge before planting - if they do........


KarenO April 25, 2018 12:44 PM

I think in my own experience it has more to do with seed age than variety. Older seed sometimes has tougher, dryer more difficult to shed seed coats. presoaking may help

mobiledynamics April 25, 2018 01:00 PM

Heh, at this stage of the game, I'm ready to turn the lights off ;-)

Most of my primaries are in 1G pots - just started hardening off 2 days ago. These new ones were sorta of a whim decision - trials. So I just need the lights on long enough for 2-3 sets of leaves and by that time, it should be plenty warm enough for them to grow outdoors.

I've tried doing a succession mist - every 20 minutes 3X and then trying to coddle the head off. No dice.
Ehh, there's always next year

clkeiper April 28, 2018 12:20 PM

I really think a lot of "helmet head" is caused by lack of humidity as the seed starts to emerge. even if the media is damp the humidity can be low and the seedshell dries out faster than it can be shed off the cotyledons. When this happens to me I pour just a tiny bit of perlite (not vermiculite) on the affected ones and make sure I keep the container covered lightly... maybe an open clamshell top or un-fastened plastic wrap... whatever so it doesn't get too hot or stay too wet and cause a fungal issue.

Al@NC April 28, 2018 12:59 PM

I use tweezers and squeeze the seed from end to end to open it up when they're really tough to come off..

Good luck! I know it's frustrating..


Nan_PA_6b April 28, 2018 01:21 PM

I've had a lot of helmets this season. It could be lack of humidity. I also plant shallowly. My go-to is applying spit, spit, spit (it's what Carolyn suggests), keeping the seed coat constantly soggy and then *very* delicately working on it. My hardest one was a Ramallet Ibiza Blanca. I first succeeded in cutting away a bit of the seed coat with an exacto knife, then after more soaking in spit, the rest softened enough to pull off with tweezers.

There was a thread here about nicking the seed coat prior to germination to see if it would prevent helmets, but so far nobody has done the experiment. I may try it once my starting tray & lights are free.



carolyn137 April 28, 2018 05:34 PM

No, of all the many varieties I have grown I've never found any one variety that is more prone to helmet heads.

Have I ever seen helmets,yes, and here's what I do to try and get them off.

I spit on a cotton ball and then wrap that around the helmet head and hold it on for about 15 min. I them take an eyebrow tweezer, or similar and gently see if it will pull off, and if not,I do it again.

And most of the time I have success.

Spit is full of enzymes,proteases,which destroy proteins,and the hard shell of helmet heads is protein.

Please try it, you might like it since it does get that helmet head off most of the time..


ginger2778 April 28, 2018 08:13 PM

Well I think that those are my seeds that you are trying and getting the helmet heads on. I know you can be successful, because those are saved from solar flare fruit that I have grown from other solar flare seeds. I won't be sowing more seeds until late August or early September but I will try them then and see what happens. By the way I do highly recommend spitting and wrapping it in plastic or a cotton ball or something to leave it soaking in the enzymes. I would even do it for a few hours if I was you.

mobiledynamics April 29, 2018 06:14 PM

LOL. In all honesty, um, er, I was not aware sp1t was a trick of the trades ;-)

One seedling eventually gave up it's held with some coaxing by me. The original one, man, was it in for the battle. It must have been a solid 2+ weeks locking in the leaves. Numerous misting, etc. Eventually it came off. Cotylens were sorta fused since they were locked in for so long. So now I'm misting them, to see if they will split and open. She ain't dead, but the cot leaves were undermined since the coat locked it in for so long.

Regardless, thanks Marsha. I've got most of the seeds germinated and have 6 new trials this year, albit I'm a bit behind the 8 ball. Looking forward to it regardless. Happy gardening ya'll

Nan_PA_6b April 29, 2018 07:56 PM

I've got one whose helmet was on so long the cots don't want to open. If anyone has more suggestions on how to get it to open it up, let me know.


joseph April 29, 2018 08:56 PM

[QUOTE=Nan_PA_6b;697638]I've got one whose helmet was on so long the cots don't want to open. If anyone has more suggestions on how to get it to open it up, let me know.[/QUOTE]

My strategy would be to leave it alone for a week. It will take care of itself.

KarenO April 29, 2018 09:25 PM

[QUOTE=joseph;697647]My strategy would be to leave it alone for a week. It will take care of itself.[/QUOTE]

I agree and if it doesn’t, it’s a weakling sprout that I don’t want.
I consider germination and the ability to shed its own seed coat the first test of a plant’s vigour. plant extra and select the best and most vigourous seedlings right from the beginning.
In the case of old or otherwise questionably viable seed, pre soaking is a good idea to soften an extra dry seed coat.

Nan_PA_6b April 29, 2018 09:32 PM

Pre-soaking... how long?


KarenO April 29, 2018 09:35 PM

[QUOTE=Nan_PA_6b;697654]Pre-soaking... how long?
For old seed?
I had a long thread regarding my 15 year old Zena’s gift seeds and diluted peroxide.

Nan_PA_6b April 29, 2018 09:57 PM

Not necessarily old, just to prevent helmets.


KarenO April 29, 2018 10:24 PM

If the seed is fresh then should be no need. Try planting the seed a bit deeper in moist mix. The seed coat should come off on the way out of the soil. Too shallow, too dry = more than normal share of seeds emerging with their seed coats still on. I personally have a theory, untested, that heat mats can contribute to the problem by making the seedlings pop up so fast there is no time for the seed coat to soften thouroughly. Tomato seeds sprout very well without bottom heat.

SueCT April 29, 2018 10:53 PM

Well, I seem to be getting more of them as my seed gets older. I had more stubborn ones this year than I ever had before. I just transplanted 50 seedlings into solo cups today and found some with a set of true leaves and the cotyledons were still fused by a helmet head underneath the true leaves. So, even if they never come apart, they will still produce true leaves. I seperated them anyway, but I wasn't worried about damaging the cotyledons anymore since they also had true leaves. Makes it easier when you aren't as worried about it, lol.

Nan_PA_6b April 30, 2018 09:40 AM

Thanks for the hope of a good outcome, Sue!


JRinPA May 4, 2018 09:33 PM

Good thread. Cotton balls, spit, depth, and heat mats. It makes a lot of sense.

I call it stuck seed coat.

Nan_PA_6b May 4, 2018 09:47 PM

The Ramallet Ibiza Blanca I removed the helmet of, is still hanging in there. The cots don't look normal but have expanded a bit. Best of all, a second Ibiza Blanca sprouted --but with a helmet head, of course.


mobiledynamics May 30, 2018 12:22 PM

The helmet heads eventually found a will to grow. Planted one in container, and one in ground. I kept a 3rd one as a backup, in the container, planted on the very edge of the pot. It outgrew and dwarfed 2X the one in the ground. Seeing as it was so healthy, I found a planting spot for a 3rd one.

Nan_PA_6b May 30, 2018 01:21 PM

I had to do major surgery on 2 helmets this year, same species (Ramallet Ibiza Blanca). Both struggled for a long time. One lived and is finally becoming robust after months; the other died.


Tormato June 1, 2018 02:12 PM

6 year old seed is where I start seeing helmet heads.

GreenThumbGal_07 June 6, 2018 01:10 AM

I ended up with "beheaded" seedlings from Yellow Cookie and Brown Berry, both "packed for 2018." In each case the seed sprouted and came up as a stump -- the cotyledon and its coat buried in the planting mix. I used Jiffy peat pellets and maybe they weren't as friable a medium as they should have been.

Yellow Cookie planted in loose planting mix still came up as a "helmet head" and I will be patient with this little one. I've read here that spit will loosen the seed coat. I wonder if glycerine would work also?

The weirdest "helmet head" seedling was one from Cornue des Andes (planted in a Jiffy peat pellet). The seedling looked like a little green worm and was growing sideways rather than up. Upon closer inspection I noticed that in the effort to grow (I hadn't touched it) the seed head had split from the rooted portion, so the plant was now composed of a blind stump and a "helmet head" seedling broken off. HOWEVER the seedling, in its struggle, had managed to send forth a tiny root.

I took this "helmet head" half, gently liberated it from its seed coat, and planted it in loose mix with some dianthus starts. Now its little compacted cotyledons are beginning to unfurl and its stem is starting to straighten out. I hope it makes it.

Nan_PA_6b June 6, 2018 01:18 AM

Wow, that is one seedling with a powerful will to live!


Groundhog June 6, 2018 09:17 PM

This has been an interesting thread for me. I've always started my seeds in the 9 oz. size Solo cups and have never had a helmet head. I had plenty of seeds left from my Mule Teams so I tried a little experiment. I planted 6 cups of 3 seeds each in the little 2 oz. cups, 3/4 full and placed them on a heat mat. I got 18 helmet head plants. I don't know what it proves but I know I'll stick to my bigger cups from now on.

Nan_PA_6b June 6, 2018 09:40 PM

Groundhog, how deep do you plant your seed? And do you think you planted them the same depth in the 9 oz & 2 oz cups?

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 01:50 AM.

★ Tomatoville® is a registered trademark of Commerce Holdings, LLC ★ All Content ©2019 Commerce Holdings, LLC ★