The Q&A Archives: Seedlings

Question: I have started perennials and annuals from seed, they were started in late Jan. Many of them are very big. Some of the plants are getting red leaves,does this mean there is a deficiency? I have fertilized many times every few weeks or so, can you tell me whats going on. Thank you

Answer: The long holding period can be a problem with starting plants very early, especially if any of the growing conditions are less than optimum. Reddening foliage can be a sign of nutrient deficiency or it can be related to soil pH or possibly cooler soil temperature. You might try using compost tea and/or a dilute fertilizer with micronutrients in it and see if that helps. It may simply be that the original soil is exhausted, or that the mix did not contain sufficnet nutrients to sustain growth over such a long period. In the meantime, make sure the plants have been moved up into pots large enough to accommodate their growing root systems -- you do not want to stress them at this stage. You could also be hardening off your perennials and possibly soon the more cold tolerant annuals, as well, and this should slow their growth a bit in general as they acclimate to the varying cooler temperatures and weather outdoors. The best thing for the plants is to get them into the ground as soon as possible -- but be sure to allow them ample time to harden off and become conditioned.

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