The Q&A Archives: Stringy Seedlings

Question: I planted my seeds 10 days ago and now they are tall and thin - spinly stems. I still have 6 weeks to go till I can plant them outside - what can I do to strengthen them and make them hardy before while I wait?


Answer: It sounds like your seedlings need more light than they are receiving. Most gardeners find it necessary to use supplemental light such as a shop light with one warm colored bulb and one cool colored bulb, keeping the lights on for 16 hours a day and keeping the plants only about an inch from the bulbs. Also be sure to thin the seedlings so they each have enough air and soil space. Keep the soil moist but not wet, and fertilize lightly about once a week with a dilute fertilizer once they have some true leaves. Also, take the time to condition them, or accustom them gradually to the outdoors, over the course of about a week before transplanting them to the garden. Good luck with your seedlings!

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