The Q&A Archives: Thinning Nasturtium Seedlings

Question: I planted nasturtium seeds and most of them germinated. The seed packet says to thin them to 8 to 12 inches apart. It breaks my heart to pull so many of them out, but if I don't, will they not grow properly? The planter I have them in is only about 3 feet long and 1 foot wide.

Answer: Those seed packet recommendations are hard to take sometimes, but they are pretty accurate. Often if plants are overcrowded they won't perform as well because of competition for water and nutrients, and they're more subject to diseases due to poor air circulation. It's hard to believe at this stage, but mature, healthy nasturtium plants can fill up that 12 inch space between seedlings! Yet I have mine in planters spaced about 6 inches apart and they're quite happy, but they need frequent watering, and I make sure to pinch out any leaves or stems that look diseased or damaged. Instead of pulling the extra plants out, why not try prying them out with a fork (so as not to damage the roots) and replanting them elsewhere?

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