Ask a Question forum: starting seed inside

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Name: newatthis31 mcgraw
Sallisaw (Zone 7a)
Mar 12, 2015 11:15 AM CST
I live in Oklahoma. Only few times I have started seeds inside they are just lil thin punie looking vine like. What am I doing wrong? When and how should I start them? Direct? Indirect sunlight? Artificial light? Etc. OK help. Thx
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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Mar 12, 2015 11:37 AM CST
Welcome! newatthis31

Most likely they need artificial light, very close to keep them from becoming spindly.

Most seed packets will tell you when to start, according to you last frost date. You just have to know when that last frost date is for your zone. I am not sure, but if I remember living in MD we were zone 7a and the last frost date was around April 15, but don't quote me on that one! Hilarious!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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Mar 12, 2015 11:44 AM CST
Welcome to ATP Welcome!

Yes, good guess! Thin and puny and vine-like means they're not getting enough light. They grow long, skinny stems because they're 'reaching' for the light. As soon as the seedlings pop up, they need good bright light for at least 7 hours. Brand new seedlings can benefit from filtered light, such as you'd get through a sheer curtain on a sunny window. If you don't have a window that gives good light for that long, you might need to try a grow-light of some sort. You don't want them growing in too warm conditions either, so cool 65 to 75deg. and bright light is good.

When the weather's good, (above say 65deg.) you can set them outside for direct sunlight as soon as they have their second set of leaves. Be sure to bring them in at night, though. Keeping them moist but not over-watering is another challenge. Water every morning, and just wet the medium, don't spray the tiny plants or they could flop. Check the surface of the soil/medium later in the afternoon, and don't let them dry out. This is going to depend somewhat on the humidity of the air in your house. Mine don't dry out easily, but I am in Florida.

What kinds of seeds are you starting?

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
[Last edited by dyzzypyxxy - Mar 12, 2015 11:46 AM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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Mar 12, 2015 5:03 PM CST
Hi, New! Welcome to ATP.

I agree - by far the most likely problem is not enough light. I see those seedlings stretching and figure that their programming "assumes" that they are shorter than other seedlings around them, and "knows" that they have to grow taller than the competition or die.

I think the weak stems are an "assumption" that the plants around them, shading them, will also support them if they can ever just get their darn leaves above the shade!

Most windows are not bright enough to start seedlinhs in, at least vegetable seedlings. If the window IS bright enough, the seedlings tend to cook when the sun shines in directly, and get too cold at night.

Artificial light is usually needed to start healthy seedlings.

If the light is an old-style "T-12" fluorescent tube, the seedlings almost need to grow right between the tubes to be sure they get enough light. (Cleaning the reflectors and tubes will get you brighter light. Replacing the tubes with newer tubes, high-output T-12s, will help.)

If you're about to buy lights, avoid the old T-12s. They are being phased out rapidly. T-8 tubes and fixtures are pretty inexpensive, though the brightest tubes, T-5s, are a little brighter than T-8s and much more expensive.

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