The Q&A Archives: Seedlings Falling Over

Question: Just (for the first time) started from seed, Iceland poppies. I used the plastic trays and used Miracle grow potting soil. Followed directions and they started popping up the other day after about 6 days. Looked nice and healthy. Directions said once they come up, prop up plastic lid so they can get some air and give partial sunlight. 2 days later, they are looking shrivelled and are bending over toward soil (not towards sun). Can you give me an idea why? Have been misting them slightly. Appreciate any advice.

Answer: Based on your description it is a little hard to tell, but generally seedlings need maximum light and good air circulation as soon as they germinate. If either is lacking, they may begin to either elongate and weaken as they stretch for light or they may be attacked by disease (misting will aggravate this). They will also grow best at moderate temperature, say mid sixties or so. The best thing to do is remove the cover, set them in a south window or under fluorescent light, and make sure they are not too crowded. If they germinated in a thick clump, thin them to at least an inch apart for starters. (Snip them off at soil level with scissors.) Next, consider your watering. You need to water so the soil is moist like a wrung out sponge, not dry and not sopping wet. If the soil is too dry they will shrivel and fall over, if it is too wet they might also fall over. Good luck with your poppies!

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