The Q&A Archives: Leggy Plants

Question: I put in a small greenhouse this late winter and started bedding plants and vegetables. My tomatos grew well but were very tall (leggy), so much so that I pinched them back about 6" so they would build heavier stems. Some of my bedding plants also were very leggy, particulary goditia. They grew prone with stems about 12" long. The stem as it came out of the medium was extremely thin and got nice and large the rest of the way along the plant. My question is, leggy is attributed to too much water, heat and or too little light, which is the cause?

Answer: Plants become leggy due to insufficient light. You may need to put flourescent lights in your greenhouse to supplement the natural light. Use shop lights and place them about 6 inches above the tops of your plants, raising them as the plants grow. This will encourage the seedlings to remain stocky rather than grow tall and spindly. Seedlings will need 14-16 hours of light each day to grow well, but they need a rest period at night, so be sure to put your lights on a timer or remember to turn them out at night.

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