The Q&A Archives: Snowdrift Seedlings Looking Weak

Question: I started some snowdrift marigolds several weeks ago indoors. They germinated nicely, but seem to have stunted in the last couple of weeks. I moved them outside this weekend since we're experiencing unseasonably warm weather--in the mid 80's during the day hoping I would see a rapid change. They don't look any better--some look as though they may be dying. I keep the soil moist. They are in regular potting soil. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: There are several possible reasons for them to look poorly. Most seedlings need supplemental light beyond what they would receive from a window.

Then, when it is time to move them outside, they need to undergo a gradual transitiion from the sheltered conditions indoors to being exposed to the more intense conditions of real sun and wind. This takes about a week, moving them to a brighter location each day.

In some cases, regular potting soil may not provide the right balance of air and moisture holding capacities for seedlings, so it is usually suggested to start them in a soilless mix and then fertilize them very lightly once they have one or two sets of true leaves. The soil should be kept barely moist, like a wrung out sponge.

I hope this helps you trouble shoot.

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