The Q&A Archives: Seedlings Dying

Question: I just started seeds of snapdragons, pansies and stocks indoors 2-3 weeks ago. The problem is that some of the seedlings grow and then die and I'm not sure why. They start out healthy and then just wither and die.

Answer: Different seeds have different germination requirements. All seeds need moisture, so start with new or sterilized seed starting trays and new seed starting mix. Pansies require dark to germinate, so be sure to plant them about 1/8 of an inch into the soil. They will take 14-21 days to sprout at 65F to 65F degrees. After planting, put the trays in a warm place (like on top of the refrigerator), or use bottom heating cables. Stocks need light to germinate and will take 10-14 days to sprout at 55F to 60F degrees. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the moistened seed starting mix and press them in with your hand, but don't cover the seeds. Snapdragon seeds take 10-21 days to sprout and need light, as well, so don't cover the seeds. They germinate best at 65F to 75F degrees.<br><br>To help things along, after you've sown your seeds, cover the trays with plastic wrap to help keep the soil moist. After most of the seeds have germinated, remove the plastic and place the seed trays under a source of artificial light. Keep the light about 6 inches above the top of the plants and leave the light on 14-16 hours each day. Be sure to keep the soil moist, but not soggy, and feed your plants once they've developed two sets of leaves. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer in place of watering every two weeks.<br><br>Following the above guidelines should result in better seed starting success.

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