The Q&A Archives: Seedling Problems

Question: I have one of the domed seed starting kits with cells.The couple of times I have tried to start plants from seeds I find that they begin well, but growth is spindly and weak. I have experimented with artificial lighting. Perhaps I'm keeping them too wet? Does insufficient light cause weak growth? My seedlings never appear strong enough to transplant - and when I've tried they have died.

Answer: After the seeds have germinated, remove the dome and put the trays under a source of artificial light for 14-16 hours each day to help your seedlings grow strong and healthy. Keep the light source about 6" inches above the tops of the plants, raising the lights as the seedlings grow. When the plants have developed two sets of leaves, begin fertilizing with a diluted liquid plant food every two weeks. When the weather has warmed, harden off your transplants for about a week before planting them outdoors. Do this by putting them outdoors in a protected area for a few hours each day, bringing them in at night, and increasing the amount of time everyday so that at the end of a week they've spent most of the day outdoors. Let them 'camp-out' overnight for one or two nights before transplanting them into the garden. With the above guidelines, your seedlings should be stout and strong, and able to survive.

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