The Q&A Archives: Yellowing Leaves of Indoor Herb Seedlings

Question: I'm growing herbs in pots indoors. The weather here is too cold and unpredictable to have them outside. The seedlings have come up and they have about one or two leaves each but they're starting to yellow. I've fed them about once a week (since they've gotten leaves) with a very dilute chelated iron plant food and I have them under a plant light because we get no sun here. How can I get their color back? And when do I start trimming them for bushier growth? (I'm very new at this.) Teresa De Paola Ithaca, NY

Answer: I'm not sure what is causing your plants to yellow. Yellowing of leaves can be a sign of lots of problems, including keeping soil too wet or too dry, disease or insect problems, lack of nutrients, or lack of light. Since you seem to be doing things correctly, from what you describe, my first guess is insufficient light and/or root rot from overwatering. Here are a few guidelines for starting herb seeds indoors: Use a sterile soilless seed-starting mix (garden soil can be contaminated with disease-causing pathogens) Once the seedlings emerge, place under fluorescent lights. Keep the lights just and inch or so above the tops of the plants. Feed with a dilute fertilizer solution (as you have been). Keep the soil moist, but not saturated. Wait to trim your plants until they are a healthy green and growing vigorously. Good luck with your garden.

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