The Q&A Archives: Impatiens Seedlings Too Leggy?

Question: This question concerns Burpee's Hybrid New Guinea Impatiens - Macarena. Planted on 23 March (using a grow light and peat pellets) about 40% of these seedlings came up within seven days and are quite leggy: 1 to 1.75 inches from soil level to the first (and only) set of leaves. It also appears that they're not as firmly rooted as I would like them to be.<?> (Granted, I'm a novice gardener.) I've been advised to pinch them off to just above the soil level to force better root growth and promote a bushier, more compact plant. But I'm having a hard time doing something so drastic to such a tender seedling! Your advice will be much appreciated.

Alaina Eldredge

Answer: Pinching them back to soil level will surely kill the little guys! They need at least two (and preferrably 3-4) sets of true leaves to manufacture food for the plants and to provide places on the stem for new buds to develop. To keep them from getting too leggy keep the gro-lights only 2" above the tops of the plants and lower the daytime temperature. After they've developed 3-4 sets of leaves pinch back the growing tip to encourage additional side growth. It takes patience to grow sturdy, bushy transplants but your patience and TLC will be rewarded when your impatiens begin to flower!

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