The Q&A Archives: Why Carnation Seedlings Fall Over

Question: I started carnations (Super Giants Mixed-Chabaud) in flats under fluorescent lights. The seedlings are growing well, but keep falling over. They are healthy and are not "damping off." Is this customary of carnations? Any ideas as to why this is happening and what I can do about it? I still have three weeks until they can be planted outside? Kathy Panos Maywood, NJ

Answer: I have a feeling your seedlings aren't getting enough light. Without enough light seedlings get "leggy" and weak and often fall over. Since fluorescent lights are nowhere near as bright as sunlight, the best thing to do is keep the lights just an inch or two above the tops of the seedlings. The plants that are still standing should begin to grow stronger within a week or two; the ones that have fallen may bounce back. Keep the plants this close to the lights until it is time to harden them off, than transplant outdoors.

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