The Q&A Archives: Seedling Woes

Question: My Burpee seeds have sprouted about 4 inches tall and looked good but now they are laying over on their sides. Are the seeds to shallow? Is this normal? They are in a room with a heater, window, and fluorescent lighting that I leave on during the day andturn off at night They also have a radio to keep them company (set on jazz).

Answer: If your seedlings started out okay and then fell over, you may have one, or several problems on your hands. Leggy, or skinny seedlings indicate the light isn't right. Place your source of artificial light about 6 inches above the tops of the plants. Fallen-over seedlings could indicate too much moisture, or damping-off disease, a fungus that affects and quickly kills new seedlings. Seeds should usually be planted about two times as deep as they are wide. If you set them too deep, they'll run out of energy before the sprouts can reach the top of the soil. If they're planted too shallowly, the roots can push the seedlings right out of the soil. Always start new seeds in sterilized flats with commercially prepared seed-starting mix, keep the soil moist but not soggy wet, and leave the artificial lights on 14-16 hours each day. Hope your plants perk up. If not, you may have to start all over. (p.s. - perhaps they've been dancing too much to the music??)

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