The Q&A Archives: Problems With Starting Seeds For Indoor Plants

get dried-out and die while I am away. Do they need to be fed,
or is this normal?

Lastly, I am particularly perplexed about my carnations. They seem
to take forever to spout, and so far, only 3 seeds out of 12 has
done so. What is very strange, however, is how they are sprouting!
I just pressed the seeds into the surface like it said, and the
seedling seems to grow up, but not down, without any root! One
of them was just laying sidewise on the soil, like a dead seal.
I gently burried the bottom half of him and propped him up by hand.
What am I doing wrong?

Sorry for all the questions, but I am new to all this. I have other
seeds I am afraid to even plant, because they sound like they are
even more difficult to grow (like Parsley and Rosemary). Any
helpful suggestions or advise would be appreciated. Thanks.

Answer: It sounds like the seedlings may have been too moist. Start out with soil that is just barely moist, like a well wrung out sponge. Plant your seeds and cover them with the plastic wrap to maintain humidity, but open it as soon as they start to sprout and put them immediately into bright light. Make sure there is also some air circulation where you keep them as stagnant air can encourage fungal growth. Next, make sure the plants are thinned enough to allow for ample light and air to filter through them. Also, do not over fertilize them. They do not need fertilizer until they have several sets of true leaves. You might try watering by dribbling water gently and slowly out of a small pitcher onto the soil rather than spraying them -- wet foliage will also encourage fungal growth. Finally, make sure all of your tools and equipment are clean and that you are using a relatively sterile potting mix such as a soilless seed starter of peat, vermiculite and possibly perlite. Other causes can also be too high or low a temperature or too little light -- many gardeners find it necessary to use supplemental lights for seedlings. Last of all, you might have luck watering them with chamomile tea when you see the fungus appear.

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