The Q&A Archives: Nasturtium Seedlings that Fail to Thrive

Question: I have started quite a few seeds this year but the only ones I am having trouble with are the nasturtiums. I have some Parks Fragrant Giants seeds left over from last year and some Empress of India seeds I purchased this year. Last year I had no trouble. I started all my seeds in vermiculite but the nasturtiums sprout and look ok for a day or so and then the brand new seed leaves turn dark and whither up and die. The stems look great - healthy and green and thick - even weeks later but of course they don't get any taller . What's up with them? Susie L. International Falls, MN

Answer: Did you get any "true" leaves on your seedlings? That is, the first new leaves after the "seed" leaves. Or is the tip of the seedling missing? The first thing that comes to mind is that some critter--a mouse?--is nipping off the tips of your seedlings. They munch on the new leaves, leaving behind a bare stem. Since the growing tip has been chewed off, no new leaves can form. If possible, cover your newly planted seeds with one of those clear plastic domes, to keep those pesky mice away!

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