The Q&A Archives: True Leaves

Question: I have seen mention of "true leaves" as in when to fertilize seedlings when they show their first "true leaves". What are the first true leaves? Are they different from the initial leaves that a seedling has when it first sprouts? The ones that first emerge out of the seed pod? My broccoli and tomatoe have sprouted. My broccoli has been up for over a week and is about 2 inches tall with one set of leaves at the top of the stem. My tomatoes are only a fews days up and they are about 1.5 inches tall with one set of leaves some still attached to their seed pods. Please explain true leaves to me. Thanks again. I love this web site!!!!!

Answer: Seedlings germinate with an initial set of simple-looking "seed leaves" and then go on to develop a set of true leaves that look like the typical characteristic leaves on the mature plant. Some plants grow true leaves almost immediately, some seem to take time to build a root system first.

As an aside, most gardeners find it necessary to provide supplemental light for most seedlings to avoid having them elongate and grow weak and spindly.

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