- Seedling Problems Solved: ID and Fix 10 Common Problems for Indoor Seedlings
- Seedling Problem No. 1
- Seedling Problem No. 2
- Seedling Problem No. 3
- Seedling Problem No. 4
- Seedling Problem No. 5
- Problem No. 6
- Seedling Problem No. 7
- Seedling Problem No. 8
- Seedling Problem No. 9
- Seedling Problem No. 10
- How to Help Seedlings
- Why are my seedlings dying?
- What to do about leggy tomato seedlings?
- How to Top Tomatoes – What to do When Tomato Plants Get Too Tall
- What To Do With Leggy Seedlings
- Why Are My Seedlings Leggy? What Causes Leggy Seedlings And How To Prevent It
- 4 Reasons You Have Leggy Seedlings
- 4 things that lead to leggy seedlings
- 2) Shading & competition
- At what point do leggy seedlings become unusable?
- How To Deal With Tall, Stretchy Cannabis Seedlings
Seedling Problems Solved: ID and Fix 10 Common Problems for Indoor Seedlings
Your indoor garden is never more vulnerable than in the first few weeks after you plant. Whether you start with seeds or clones, the tender seedlings can suffer from overheating, underfeeding, and lethal fungi. Check on your little plants every day and when you see any of these symptoms, take quick action to fix the problem and keep your crop growing strong.
Seedling Problem No. 1
Seeds don’t come up
Cause: About 90 percent of fresh seeds should sprout, but after six months or more in storage, germination rates can begin to decline. If you get low germination with fresh seeds, your soil mix may have dried out before the tiny sprout could take up enough moisture to start growing.
Solution: Before you plant, soak your seeds in water for 30 minutes so the seed coats start to soften and they begin absorbing moisture. Dampen the soil mix thoroughly, and then sow the seeds. After planting, be sure the mix stays consistently moist. Even a few dry hours can stall the sprouts’ growth.
Seedling Problem No. 2
Seed coat stuck
Cause: When the outer shell of seeds stays on top of or around the tiny new leaves, you may not have planted them deeply enough in the soil for the sprout to shed the casing before it breaks through the surface. The problem of a stuck seed coat also can occur when the soil is too dry.
Solution: To fix, spritz the casing with water. After waiting a few moments, ease it off with your fingers. Prevent the problem by pushing seeds into the soil to a depth about three times its size–that is, plant a 1-inch seed 3 inches deep. Be sure the soil stays consistently damp while the seed is sprouting.
Seedling Problem No. 3
All seedlings die suddenly
Cause: If a batch of otherwise healthy seedlings fall over and wither seemingly overnight, they are likely victims of damping-off, a fungal disease that attacks stems at the soil surface and is usually deadly. Excess moisture or nutrients create conditions that promote damping-off.
Solution: While it’s too late to cure seedlings that are infected with damping-off, you can prevent it. After sowing seeds, sprinkle sphagnum peat moss on top of the soil or other planting medium to absorb moisture. Be sure to feed seedlings with fertilizers formulated for the early stages of growth and follow recommended dilution rates carefully, so there are just enough nutrients to meet the plants’ needs and no extra.
Seedling Problem No. 4
Long, spindly stems and tiny leaves
Cause: Seedlings need lots of light as soon as they begin to grow. Artificial lights being much less bright than the sun, seedlings try to stretch toward them when they are too far from the plants’ tops tiny leaves.
Solution: If you are using fluorescent or LED lights for your seedlings, set them up so they are about 4 inches from the tops of the plants and raise the lights as they grow. High-intensity lamps should be about 18 inches from the tops of the plants — any closer and the tender seedlings may burn.
Seedling Problem No. 5
Droopy leaves and stems
Cause: Overwatering plants actually drowns them by depriving the roots of air. When the roots don’t get air, the leaves hang down and the stems droop. Excessive water is a common result of growing a small plant in a large pot, because the plant isn’t absorbing much moisture each day so the soil in the container stays soggy.
Solution: Never start seeds in potting soil, which holds too much moisture. Instead use a mix containing peat moss or coir (coconut husk fiber). Plant seeds in small containers (4-inch size is the maximum) and be prepared to transplant them to a larger pot as they grow.
Problem No. 6
Curled, crumbly leaves
Cause: Even a few hours without water can slow a seedlings’ growth and after a day the plant may begin to curl its leaves to conserve moisture. Hot grow lights and the dry air inside heated homes can rapidly dehydrate plants, too.
Solution: Plant in a mix that includes perlite or vermiculite, naturally occurring minerals that hold moisture and disperse it as needed. Keep the mix consistently damp but not soggy so the plants don’t dry out or drown.
Seedling Problem No. 7
Yellow or brown leaf tips
Cause: Warm temperatures (70 to 75 degrees F) are ideal for seed germination, but tender seedlings can overheat from high-intensity lighting, lack of ventilation, or other reasons, causing the foliage to begin to burn at the edges.
Solution: Keep your indoor garden around 65 degrees F while the seedlings are getting established. Leave a fan blowing gently around the seedlings to bring in fresh air and prevent stagnant air from heating up.
Seedling Problem No. 8
Stalled growth, pale or yellow-streaked leaves
Cause: Seeds contain all the nutrients they need to germinate and grow their first pair of leaves, but after that you need to provide the food. When a plant appears to have stopped growing for a few days and the leaves are pale or yellow, it’s in need of nitrogen, the critical nutrient for healthy green growth.
Solution: After the two embryonic leaves (known as “cotyledon”) appear, begin feeding seedlings with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for seedlings. Follow the dilution recommendations–excess nutrients that the seedling can’t absorb can be a breeding ground for destructive fungi.
Seedling Problem No. 9
Purplish or reddish leaves and stalled growth
Cause: Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for root development and when it is in short supply, the seedlings’ growth stops and the veins in leaves can look like they are tinted purple or red.
Solution: Begin fertilizing with a phosphorus-rich nutrient formula after the leaves appear. Test the nutrient solution’s pH to be sure it is right for your growing system – soil or hydroponics – because if the fluid is too acidic or alkaline, the seedlings won’t be able to absorb the phosphorus.
Seedling Problem No. 10
Yellow spots or black mold on first few sets of leaves
Cause: Whiteflies are common pests of indoor gardens that may prey on weak seedlings. They suck sap from plants, leaving behind yellow spots. Worse, when they suck out more plant juice than they can digest, the pests excrete the excess as a sticky substance (called “honeydew”) on leaves. The sooty black mold grows in the honeydew.
Solution: The safest way to protect seedlings is with sticky traps that capture the flies before they can do any damage. When the plants get a little larger, you can eliminate whitefly infestations with insecticidal soap, a spray that’s compliant for use in organic gardening.
How to Help Seedlings
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Why are my seedlings dying?
I’ve killed three seedlings so far. Basically what happens is the plant looks good for a few days, then falls over and shrivels up.
First of all, could the tap water Ph or ppm be so bad that it’s killing the seedling? I haven’t yet bought a Ph meter (I know, stupid. But I am overwhelmed deciding what kind to buy, any recommendations are welcome).
This last time I let the seed germinate for a couple days. It had cracked a little and the stem was barely showing when I planted it, about half an inch deep in a 50/50 soil/perlite mix. The soil is some very cheap Scotts stuff that has no nutrients, so it shouldn’t be nute burn. Immediately after planting I watered it and put it under 18/6 light cycle.
At first I thought the soil was too hard but that doesn’t seem to be the problem, as this time the soil is quite aerated.
Am I using enough light for a seedling? I have two 27 watt 6500 k daylight bulbs in a y socket, screwed into a metal reflector thingy I bought from home depot. I have this situated such that just one of the bulbs is giving most of the light. the one light is pretty much horizontal and directly over the plant, about an inch and a half away.
Maybe I’m watering wrong? Basically I poured tap water that had sat out for about 48 hours. I poured the water until it started dripping out the bottom of the container. My container is a ziplock plastic food dish with holes drilled in the bottom.
Is it okay to pour some of the water directly on the still-underground seedling when I watered? cause that’s what I did.
Sorry lots of questions, but could somebody give me an idea of what I’m doing wrong?
If your tomato seedlings do become leggy, then all isn’t lost. Unlike plants such as cauliflower, tomato seedlings can be rescued because they grow roots from the main stem.
Before transplanting, remove the bottom few leaves and then plant the seedling more deeply than normal in the new container. Leave the top few sets of leaves exposed above the soil. The plant will develop new roots from the main stem and the stem will become thicker and strong. Place the seedlings in a position where they get full sun all day, or invest in some grow lights to place above your plants to encourage them to not become too leggy.
If an established, or larger plant becomes leggy, then they can often be saved by pruning them well and pinching the top off the plant. This encourages the plant to grow bushier and put its energy into something other than growing tall.
Leggy tomato seeds are not the end of the world. If you repot them deeply and place them somewhere with a more consistent light source, the plants can be rescued and will grow into healthy, productive adult plants!
What to do about leggy tomato seedlings?
Seedlings that start out very leggy often tend to be weaker, more prone to disease and produce less when they mature. And that’s not the kind of plants we want.
At the same time tomato plants are easy to grow from seeds on your own. Especially if you have kids, planting seeds and watching how the little seedlings grow can be a very fun activity to do together. And not to mention the delight of harvesting time!
Growing your own is well worth it, so don’t worry if the plants are not picture perfect.
The reasons why your tomato seedlings got so thin and leggy
- Planting too early in the season. Tomato seedlings are one of the first you need to get started in the season. But don’t start too early either. I start mine mid to end February.
- Too little light. If the plants have to less light, they will stretch extra tall to get as much of it as possible. I think this is the main reason mine are growing long.
- Too much fertilizer. If the seedlings get to much food, they will grow like crazy! I prefer to follow the permaculture principles with my plants, so they don’t get any fertilizer.
Fixing leggy seedlings
Sometimes just adjusting what’s causing the problem, is enough. Are you fertilizing too much? Then stop doing that. Are the plants standing in a too dark spot? Move them to the sunniest location available. When seedlings get the right conditions they most often do just fine on their own, without you having to do anything.
But sometimes the seedlings have just grown too tall and leggy to be okay on their own. To save the plants all you have to do is to repot them! Wait for the plants to mature a little bit before repotting. They need to have at least one set of true leafs. Then just get a bigger pot and fill it up with good compost, replant the seedling very deep so most of the leggy stem is underneath the surface of the earth. The tomato plant will grow roots along the stem that is in the compost and you now have a stronger and healthier plant.
Just make sure you give it the best conditions, plenty of water and light, and harden it of gradually before you plant it in its final destination for the summer. Then you should have a plant that will produce juicy tomatoes for you all summer long!
How to Top Tomatoes – What to do When Tomato Plants Get Too Tall
Knowing how to top tomatoes and what to do when tomato plants get too tall will give you the confidence to tame your plants while keeping them healthy and productive. In the height of summer, it might be time to prune those tomatoes.
While the idea of topping (cutting off the top growth) seems extreme and counter-intuitive, in this post and video, I’ll show you why and when you should consider this option, and how to do it safely for optimal yield and healthier plants.
The first thing to understand is that topping plants is simply an option. If you do nothing and allow plants to grow, they will eventually flop over the edge of whatever is supporting them and continue to grow.
The main downside is that fruit laden branches can kink and potentially impact production. Another risk includes excessive growth that blocks light and air to the rest of the plant (increasing the opportunity for diseases to take hold). Otherwise, it comes down to personal preference.
As numerous branches begin to flop over the cage from your indeterminate varieties (the type that keeps on growing), take a deep breath and consider cutting some or all of the branches off near the top of their cage support.
While pruning stimulates new growth, it takes courage to cut off tomato laden branches.
How to Top Tomatoes
- Identify the general area to make the cut. Then select a section of the branch just above the last set of fruit you want to leave on the plant and make the cut just about that.
- Leave some shade. When making your cut, it’s important to leave some shade from overhead or neighboring branches to prevent sun scald (a condition that will burn your tomato fruit due to direct exposure to the sun).
- Monitor future growth. To maintain current height, monitor branches for new suckers that will continue to emerge from each branch. Remove as necessary to maintain height.
Take comfort in knowing it is always traumatic to remove perfectly good, tomato-laden branches from healthy plants. But rest assured in knowing that the remaining fruit will continue to ripen, aided by the shade of overhead foliage.
The same scene two weeks later. Overall height is about the same. Continue to monitor clipped branches for new growth emerging along the stem and remove as necessary.
There’s also a bonus to topping tomatoes if you want to make more plants. You can take those cuttings (trim off the lower side branches) and stick the stems into an adjacent bed or pot. Firm in the soil around them and keep them watered—consistently for the next week. (You could also take cuttings and place into a glass of water. Within two weeks they will root sufficiently from the stem for transplanting back into the garden.)
The remnants of my pruning are the making of new plants. Cut off the lower side branches and insert the cuttings deeply into the soil.
Cuttings removed from topping can be rooted in water or stuck directly in the ground. If you keep them well hydrated and out of direct sun for the first few days, new roots will quickly form as a simple way to propagate exact clones of your topped plants.
A simple way to make more plants-just stick tomato cuttings into soil and keep watered.
If you want to tame your plants, with the added bonus of making more from what you cut, knowing how to top tomatoes when your plants get too tall will give you fresh, sizable new plants, more manageable existing plants, and a tidier garden.
Links & Resources
Episode 003: Growing Epic Tomatoes with Craig LeHoullier
Episode 005: What’s Wrong With My Tomato? Mid-Season Care With Craig LeHoullier
joegardener Blog: When is the Best Time to Pick a Tomato?
joegardener Video Blog: The Ultimate Tomato Cage in 5 Simple Steps
joegardener Video Blog: Sunscald-What Happens when Tomatoes are Overexposed
Growing a Greener World® Episode 803: Epic Tomatoes With Craig LeHoullier
What To Do With Leggy Seedlings
At this time of year we get frequent calls from people who have started seeds inside and find that they’ve gotten too “leggy.” This is most common for those who are growing seedlings on a windowsill where the light might be strong but not as direct or constant as you’d find in a greenhouse. The problem is, of course, that once the seedlings get lean and spindly they are more likely to be damaged when planted outside. Here are some of the reasons that seedlings get leggy, and what you can do if this has happened to you.
- Seedlings grow leggy when they are reaching for the light. Be sure to grow your plants in as much light as possible. If you’re growing under artificial lights such as fluorescent or the long, tube gro-lights, position the bulbs only about 3″ from the tops of the plants. Most people rig up a system where the lights can be raised as the seedlings grow.
- Seedlings also grow leggy when they are started too early. Be sure to use the end of May as the time when most summer plants can be placed outside and work backwards from there, using the germination times on the seed packets. So for plants such as zinnias, for example, that germinate and grow quickly, they shouldn’t be started before the end of April.
- Once seedlings get too long and leggy many wonder if they can sink the stems lower in the soil once the plants are put outside. This works for tomato plants but most others can’t be sunk into the ground in that way. Instead, use the methods below to help strengthen the plants.
- Don’t over-fertilize! Many people mistakenly believe that fertilizer will make plants stronger. In reality, fertilizers make plants grow larger and faster but they don’t help the plants to become sturdy. Keep synthetic fertilizer to a minimum until the plants are growing outdoors.
- Environmental “stresses” such as wind stimulate hormones in plants that signal the roots and stems to grow strong. So putting a small fan next to your seedlings on a timer so that the plants are blown in the breeze for a couple of hours a day will help strengthen leggy plants. Gently passing your hand over the tops of seedlings a few times every day will also stimulate stronger growth.
- When it’s time to move the plants outside introduce them to the “real world” gradually. Don’t put tender plants out into the direct sun – either place them in mostly shade (the dappled sun through trees is good) for a few days or put them outside during a stretch of cloudy weather. If the weather turns stormy, pull those plants inside until heavy rains and high winds pass.
- Most leggy plants become sturdier once they are growing outside.
Sometimes people are tempted to fertilize tiny tomato seedlings in order to hurry their growth in the spring. Don’t do this too early or you’ll end up with taller, weaker plants before it’s time to plant them outside. Tomatoes shouldn’t be planted outdoors until the night time temperatures are reliably above 50 degrees.
These broccoli seedlings are short and strong because they have been raised in a greenhouse where there is lots of light. Seedlings are more apt to become leggy when the light isn’t strong enough. If your windows don’t get full sun, consider starting your seedlings under lights that are placed about 3″ from the tops of your plants. (Note: high-powered grow lights that get hot can be further from seedlings, but fluorescent tubes, regular or full spectrum, should be close to the plants.)
Why Are My Seedlings Leggy? What Causes Leggy Seedlings And How To Prevent It
Seed starting is an exciting time for many gardeners. It seems almost magical to place a tiny seed into some soil and watch a small seedling emerge just a short time later, but sometimes things can go wrong.
We watch with excitement as the seedlings grow taller, only to realize that they have grown too tall and are now a bit floppy. This is known as leggy seedlings. If you are wondering what causes leggy seedlings, and more importantly, how to prevent leggy seedlings, keep reading.
At the most basic level, leggy seedlings are caused by a lack of light. It could be that the window you are growing your seedlings in does not provide enough light or it could be that the lights you are using as grow lights aren’t close enough to the seedling. Either way, the seedlings will get leggy.
This happens due to the natural reaction of plants to light. Plants will always grow towards a light. Leggy seedlings happen for the same reason crooked houseplants happen. The plant grows towards the light and, since the light is too far away, the plant tries to accelerate its height to get close enough to the light to survive. Unfortunately, there is only a limited amount of growth a plant can do. What it gains in height, it sacrifices in the width of the stem. As a result, you get long, floppy seedlings.
Leggy seedlings are a problem for many reasons. First, seedlings that are too tall will have problems when they are moved outdoors. Because they are thin and floppy, they can’t stand up as well to natural occurrences like wind and hard rain. Second, floppy seedlings have a hard time growing up to be strong plants. Third, seedlings that are falling over can be more prone to disease and pests.
As you might have guessed by now, the best way to prevent leggy seedlings is to make sure the seedlings are getting enough light.
If you are growing seedlings in a window, try to grow them in a south-facing window. This will give you the best light from the sun. If a south-facing window isn’t available, you may want to consider supplementing the light the seedlings are getting from the window with a small fluorescent bulb placed within a few inches of the seedlings.
If you are growing your seedlings under lights (either a grow light or a fluorescent light), the best way to prevent leggy seedlings is to make sure that the lights are close enough to the seedlings. The lights should remain just a few inches above the seedlings as long as you have them indoors or your seedlings will get too tall. Many gardeners put their lights on adjustable chains or strings so that the lights can be moved upwards as the seedlings get taller.
You can also force seedlings that are too tall to grow thicker by brushing your hands over them a few times a day or placing an oscillating fan to blow gently on them for a few hours every day. This tricks the plant into thinking that it is growing in a windy environment and releases chemicals in the plant to grow thicker stems to be better able to withstand the supposed windy environment. This should not replace providing more light, but can help prevent leggy seedlings in the first place.
4 Reasons You Have Leggy Seedlings
If you have spindly and leggy seedlings, you understand the frustration of trying to farm with low-quality seedlings.
Legginess occurs when a seedling’s internode (or stem) grows long and thin. It makes them hard to transplant, easy to break on accident, less likely to grow well, and can result in wild, loose heads of greens that can impact sales. There are four main reasons that seedlings become leggy.
4 things that lead to leggy seedlings
95% of seedlings are leggy as a result of a lack of light (reason number 1). This should be the first thing that growers fix in the case of legginess.
1) Too little light
As soon as a seed germinates and cotyledons emerge, it grows toward the light source. Without light, it is cued to keep looking for the light and grows a long stem to get to it. (In a natural setting, lack of light means that the seed is still under soil and needs to grow upward to emerge from the soil.) If you give it enough light, the seedling will redirect resources to start growing a stronger stem and foliage.
So exactly how much light does a seedling need? Seedlings need 100 micromoles/sec-m2 of PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) for 12–18 hours a day. To see how far to space artificial lights from the seedlings, see the graphic here.
If you don’t want to measure PAR, just add a light bar or two to your seedling systems. As you probably know, we prefer brand-name light bars like Transcend or Phillips, which are high quality.
2) Shading & competition
Another cause of too little light is shading from the competition. When a lot of seedlings grow together, at a certain stage they get big enough to start shading each other out. This forces the seedlings to grow taller and compete for light.
If this is the problem, then it can be fixed by adding light and transplanting the seedlings at the right time (when their true leaves appear) instead of letting them get bigger than necessary. If a particular crop’s seedlings are just large-statured and shading occurs even before they are ready to transplant, then growers should consider using larger plugs and seedling trays to give the seedlings more space.
3) Wrong kind of light
Artificial lights have different ratios of red to blue light. Red light is the most efficient type of light for growth in the seedling stage, but blue light causes the plants to grow in a more compact fashion. If you have legginess under artificial light, then you might have too much red and not enough blue. If you have enough light and your seedlings are still leggy, try increasing the amount of blue light.
Increasing blue light almost always means increasing the light in general (see reason 1). If you are the odd case where the blue-red ratio of your lights is actually very heavy on the red, then you can either switch over to high-quality lights or add a fluorescent, which is likely heavier on the blue light.
4) Too much ammoniacal nitrogen (too much ammonia in ratio to nitrate)
Fertilizers formulated for hydroponics won’t include much (if any) urea or ammoniacal nitrogen.
Different fertilizer mixes have different amounts of ammoniacal nitrogen in relation to nitrate nitrogen. Nitrogen in the form of nitrates is used directly by the plant and contributes to shorter, more compact growth. Ammoniacal nitrogen, on the other hand, is tied to leggy seedlings.
Hydroponic fertilizers will have very little to no ammoniacal nitrogen because they are designed to be immediately available to crops. If you’re using an off-the-shelf fertilizer designed for soil gardening or farming (you shouldn’t), ammoniacal nitrogen or urea might contribute a certain percentage of the nitrogen. Switch over to a hydroponics fertilizer like Dyna-Gro or Chem-Gro. If you must use that fertilizer, however, check the label and make sure that there is no urea or ammoniacal nitrogen.
At what point do leggy seedlings become unusable?
Seedlings that are leggy are often still usable, especially if you catch legginess early on. It becomes an issue when seedling stems get so long that the seedling strays far from the Tower face or surface of the media and droops. These long stalks are likely to cause dripping issues (system water loss), stem curling or coiling and heads that aren’t oriented well. In addition to health, this can be a sales issue. Customers like heads that are clean, neat, and compact.
How To Deal With Tall, Stretchy Cannabis Seedlings
Just like baby newborns, seedlings are very delicate things. They need as much tender loving care as possible. And in the case of our beloved cannabis plant, the best form of TLC is to provide it with ideal environmental conditions.
THE SEEDLING STAGE
Seeds are like little genetic time-capsule bombs. What this means is that they only have one job, and only get one chance to pull it off. They are pre-programmed to survive. A seed self-contains absolutely everything a future plant needs to get started. Once activated with moisture and darkness, it will trigger germination, and once that gets going, there is no turning back.
A seedling does not need any food for the first good few days of its life. From its genetics, it is already backpacking all the essential nutrients needed to embrace the miracle of life. Seedlings have a little reserve to help establish themselves in their growing environment.
In optimal conditions, the seed shell, or husk, will crack open and a taproot will pop out, immediately digging further down in search of a water lifeline. Soon, you will see a sprout rise from the under the soil, spread out its first baby leaves (cotyledons), and then you will start noticing the first set of true leaves. Leaves have an equally important job as the taproot, but they are in search of another food source – light. Quite literally, a plant uses light to digest what it brings up from the soil.
WHAT CAUSES ABNORMAL STRETCHING?
Abnormal stretching in the seedling phase is a sign of stress. By far, the most common situation that causes seedlings to stretch and topple over is light deprivation.
In the same way a taproot digs for water and nutrients, the top part of the plant will stretch vigorously if it is not receiving enough light. It is a survival mechanism. It will use up all its stored energy to rise above competing flora. In the case of indoor growing, there is no competition, but the seedling will perceive it this way. For instance, leaving the pot under a windowsill in the shade will likely trigger this behaviour.
This may seem a bit confusing for new indoor growers, as they may think they are providing more than enough light to their plants. But consider the following. Positioning a 200W metal halide bulb very far away from the pot will be less effective than a 20W CFL bulb a few inches away from the leaf surface.
Seedlings have very little leaves. The total surface area in which to absorb light is very small. So, in essence, that 200W bulb will be radiating over a very large area, but the seedling can only use a minute fraction of it. The CFL position right over the plant will be able to give most of its 20W directly.
HOW TO FIX THIS?
Luckily, there is no major harm done if the situation is dealt with quickly. Some people opt to stick a support stake (a straw, pencil, chopstick) until the plant grows out enough to support itself. This works, but is not the optimal solution.
A better technique is to gently scoop out the plant from the medium, being very careful not to harm the little roots. You then proceed to dig a much bigger hole and replant the seedling in deeper, making sure to bury most of the overgrown stem. With time, the buried stem will start shooting roots.
Give your babies direct sunlight, not shade. If growing indoors, lower your lights if possible. Just be sure that potential heat stress is not a problem. HID lights may be too heat-strong for seedlings if you set them too close. Lower-powered LED or CFL may be a better option at this stage.
You will soon notice how the first set of leaves start growing. The young plant is now happy and able to photosynthesise. It now triggered leaf grow and not stem growth. All the energy is directed to produce chlorophyll, which in turn promotes even more photosynthesis.
The young plant now has all the right ingredients to achieve its full potential.
Damping off is not a disease, rather a reaction to a disease. When roots, seeds and seedlings are attacked by soil born fungi, the delivering of nutrients upwards through the marijuana plant is thwarted. This results in mushy soft stems, causing the plant to fall over and die. Warm, nitrogen rich soil that is too wet provides a medium for the growth of fungi, especially Rhizoctonia and Pythium. Rhizoctonia do not produce spores; they are asexual parasitic pathogens causing plant disease.
Damping off begins below the soil line. As a result, the marijuana farmer will not be aware of the problem until the stalk and lower leaves show signs of atrophy. At first, the lower portion of the stalk becomes discolored, usually yellowish-brown. The stems will show brown lesions between nodes, eventually becoming dark reddish-brown cankers. The stem will turn brown and soft then it will simply fall over. Without nutrition to keep it strong and sturdy, damping off can kill a cannabis plant, or any other that has been attacked.
Damping off usually hits seedlings before it affects older plants. The condition can first appear as wilting, seemingly due to overwatering. However, as lesions form on the upper portions of the plant, a fungal reaction is evident. Download my free marijuana grow bible for more tips about growing marijuana plants.
As they say, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. Prevention should be foremost in any gardener’s mind; especially the marijuana gardener, since there are profits at stake. We cannot stress enough the importance of moisture control. Wet soil causes ‘wet feet’, which can be the beginning of the end to your healthy cannabis crop. Water only when the surface is dry. This isn’t always possible during a rainy season, but you can help the soil from becoming saturated. Make sure the soil is well drained in order to prevent water from pooling at the root level. Adding perlite or vermiculite to the soil during preparation will help to encourage air flow below ground. When starting your crop from seed, make sure the seeds have come from disease-free specimens and plant no lower that ¼” in the ground. The moisture level lower down is more concentrated. You don’t want to set your plants up for failure from the get-go!
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Start your seedlings indoors or in pots. Prepare the outside site properly as mentioned elsewhere in this category. Add properly cured compost (good bacteria are created during the ‘heating’ process of making compost) and let it combine with the soil at least a week before introducing plant material. Transplant your seedlings to the grow site once they have several sets of leaves. They will need their strength when transplanted so they don’t go into shock. This is advice to be taken no matter what you are growing. As an added measure, spray the soil with a copper based anti-fungal treatment, chamomile tea or garlic oil and allow it to dry-in. Always, always, always use sterile tools. Sterilize them after each use so as to kill any varmints that may have hitched a ride.
Once the seedlings have been affected by damping off, there is little to nothing you can do to save them. However, you may be able to help the older, stronger plants. Remove the infected areas and treat any wounds with diluted hydrogen peroxide. If the stem cankers are severe, spray with copper fungicide, clove oil, coriander oil or sesame oil.
So, there you have it. Mary Jane is just as susceptible to lesions, diseases and over-all ill health if you don’t give her a good strong foundation and feed her properly, as are we humans and our pets. Treat her with tender loving care, pay attention to her and you will be rewarded with a healthy marijuana crop.
If you want to start growing, download my free grow guide and order some marijuana seeds. All top quality marijuana seeds are available in my marijuana seed shop. We ship seeds to the US, CA and many other countries. For any growing related question please visit the marijuana support page.
Dear Dan, Sprouting seed has been easy for me, and transferring it to soil has been fine too. My problem is they all grow straight up 6 inches or more and then the weight of them makes them fall over. I have a plant light and run it according. What is the issue am I not planting seeds deep enough or is it something else? – Joshua B.
My initial diagnosis is that your light is too far away from your plant tops. This is usually the reason that seedlings will stretch and then fall over. Lower your light closer to your seedlings and you should see this problem disappear.
If your seedlings are still alive, try carefully removing the plant from your container and replanting it with much of the stem buried in more soil. Wet your soil, flip your container over with your fingers protecting the stem and then gently remove the plant with the wet soil attached. Replant the sedling in a deeper container (or the same container if you can and wish) burying the stem almost up to the first leaves. Some light airflow from a fan can also help build up the stems and make them stronger and able to carry the weight of the plant above.
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(photo by Brian Jahn)
Is your Tomato Plant growing to tall and thin? Don’t worry. There are at least two ways to fix that. If the Plant is thin and leggy, but still look healthy, you can always cut the top of and grow a second Plant from the cutting (see more on how to do that in this post).
But if your Plant looks a bit sad and neglected (or if you already have enough Tomato Plants..) you can benefit from the fact that Tomato Plants like to be planted deeper, and easily grow new and more roots from a buried Stem.
This is a trick that I often use for my Tomato Plants if they have been growing to thin:
1. Take your Plant. Do not water the plant the last few days before doing this. By not watering the plant, the stem will be more flexible and easier to bend without breaking it of.
2. Take a large Pot (or in my case, I use a Bucket). Fill the bottom of the Pot or Bucket with soil. I usually add a little bit of chicken manure mixed into the soil to give nutrients during the season, but this is optional of course.
3. Trim the bottom part of the stem by cutting all the leaves.
4. Now place your plant in the bucket, and wrap the Tomato Plant Stem in circles around inside the Pot or Bucket. Like this:
5. Then fill the rest of the bucket with soil. Remember to give your Plant enough water over the next days, and it will grow new roots and grow into a stronger and healthier Tomato Plant.