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  • leggy seedlings

    Hello!
    My seeds were coming up quite nicely, but then they grew a bit too tall, or leggy, and are now slumped over Is there a way to revitalize them? (The problem is not a lack of water, that I do know.) I think this might have been caused by setting them under a fluorescent light at night. Does anyone know if the seedlings are ruined, or is there something I can do?
    Thanks!

  • #2
    Originally posted by MacRhea View Post
    Hello!
    My seeds were coming up quite nicely, but then they grew a bit too tall, or leggy, and are now slumped over Is there a way to revitalize them? (The problem is not a lack of water, that I do know.) I think this might have been caused by setting them under a fluorescent light at night. Does anyone know if the seedlings are ruined, or is there something I can do?
    Thanks!
    What kind(s) do you have?
    dcarch

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    • #3
      I would say if they're leggy, they're not getting enough light, not too much. What kind of lighting scheme are you using?

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      • #4
        leggy seedlings

        Veggies-- cauliflower, cabbage & tomatoes. The tomatoes appear to be ok, but the other two have suffered! After planting the seeds, the weather was very cloudy for at least a week. I set them under a fluorescent desk light that was about 40" above. They were starting to sprout, looking ok, and then we got a beautiful, 70 degree, sunny day, so I set them outside. Now the look a little wind blown (I didn't think it was a windy day at all!), and are also "leggy" and have drooped over. Although the tiny roots seem good, part of the little stem has shriveled. Any thoughts or suggestions?

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        • #5
          Too much fertilizer, too much water and too warm in your growing area can make your seedlings grow too fast.

          dcarch

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MacRhea View Post
            Veggies-- cauliflower, cabbage & tomatoes. The tomatoes appear to be ok, but the other two have suffered! After planting the seeds, the weather was very cloudy for at least a week. I set them under a fluorescent desk light that was about 40" above. They were starting to sprout, looking ok, and then we got a beautiful, 70 degree, sunny day, so I set them outside. Now the look a little wind blown (I didn't think it was a windy day at all!), and are also "leggy" and have drooped over. Although the tiny roots seem good, part of the little stem has shriveled. Any thoughts or suggestions?

            If part of the stem has shriveled close to the soil, I would say it sounds like damping off. It's caused by a fungus

            It is also possible if you moved them out into the direct sun without some sort of hardening off process, you might have sunburned the seedlings.


            A picture is worth a thousand words, any chance you could post one?

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            • #7
              Thank you both so much for your help! It is greatly appreciated!

              I'm tying to include two photos... let's see if this works...
              Attached Files

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              • #8
                They should have a period of darkness at night, but that isn't what caused your problem. Your plants weren't getting enough light indoors and they weren't ready for outdoor conditions, especially if you put them right out in the sun.

                I think the ones that have stems shriveled up are done for. For the rest, if you're going to keep them indoors you'll need to rig up stronger lighting.

                40" is way too high above the plants for fluorescent lighting. The tube(s) should be no more than an inch or two above the tops of the seedlings.

                Try to set up a 4 foot long fluorescent light fixture that holds two 40 watt tubes, and keep the tops of the plants only an inch or two under the tubes. Your desktop lamp is probably much smaller than that and nowhere near bright enough. It would help if you could set a small fan nearby to blow a gentle air current near the seedlings to help strengthen the stems too.

                If the plants were on a windowsill during the day, did the window face north, south, east, west? Through a window, they need as much sun as they can get. Outdoors the sun is much stronger than it is through a window so you need to be careful about exposing them to the sun outdoors at first.

                You can put the tomatoes outdoors in the shade, not the sun, whenever the weather is above 50 degrees, until a week or two before you are ready to plant them in the garden. The cabbage and cauliflower can take cooler temperatures, but they're in the same flat with the tomatoes so you're kind of stuck until they're big enough to transplant.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by MacRhea View Post
                  I set them under a fluorescent desk light that was about 40" above.
                  That's 39 inches too far. Also a desk light is probably not large enough to completely cover your seed trays. Most of us use a 4 foot, dual bulb 40w or 32w fluorescent light fixture. It's ugly but it's cheap -- $25.


                  Click for Full Size Image

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                  • #10
                    Thank you all so much! I greatly appreciate all the advice!!

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                    • #11
                      What bcday and feldon30 said.

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                      • #12
                        Don't give up on your cabbages - even if the seedlings are a bit leggy, you'll be able to TP them deeper and they'll root ok. Same with tomatoes, but you really need better light - and transition slowly to sunlight!

                        I wonder if the seedlings in my truck will need to be hardened off - they're getting direct sunlight now, and suffering with 50-70F daytime highs down to 31 last night: kohlrabi, beets, beans.

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                        • #13
                          Feldon30,
                          Your plants look great!! About how long did it take to grow them to the size pictured? DO you just keep raising the light to always keep it 1" above? Also, how often/how much do you (or any of you) water your seedlings?

                          Again, thanks for all the advice. It's early enough that I just started over with my seeds. Here goes round 2!

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                          • #14
                            TP'ing leggy cabbage

                            My cabbage seedlings are also leggy. I have kept the 32 watt cool florescent bulbs within an inch of them but they act like they still aren't getting enough light. The ones towards the outside of the flat are leaning over towards the light. With the shop light so low it isn't wide enough to spread the light. It doesn't seem to bother my onions but I'm afraid I'm going to loose the cabbage and now the Romaine may be getting too tall also.
                            Is it possible that these new T8 bulbs that are replacing the old style florescent bulbs, are the problem?
                            Can I TP the cabbages deeply like you do tomatoes?
                            Could I be keeping them to damp?
                            I seeded them 2-20 so they are 23 days old and I was planning on putting them in the cold frame tomorrow for 2 weeks before planting in the garden
                            Thanks>

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                            • #15
                              Whoa... time-traveling gardeners. Anyway, Raylor - I am using two T-12 bulbs (40 w ea.) over my seeds and they seem to be working well. Mine aren't as far along as yours are but you might consider raising the light to within maybe 3 inches of the top of the plants. Also you might want to put a couple of white boards as reflector "extensions" on either side of your lights to somewhat even out the light. Well, if they're going in the cold frame tomorrow think about that for next year.

                              Good luck.

                              Bill

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