"good Root Development For Plants Started From Seed" - Knowledgebase Question

Manahawkin, NJ
Avatar for herrm
Question by herrm
March 18, 2000
What is the best way to get good root development in plants started from seed? Should they be watered only when the soil has gotten dry? Should they be fertilized with a weak solution after they reach a certain size?

Answer from NGA
March 18, 2000
Plants started from seed indoors will usually be healthiest if they are not started too soon and are grown on under lights at a fairly cool temperature of about 65 degrees. They should be watered when the soil has begun to dry a bit but before they have wilted -- the idea is to keep the soil evenly moist without becoming soggy. They should be fertilized with a weak solution of water soluble fertilizer and/or compost tea starting when they have two sets of true leaves. Good air circulation is also important as is making sure they are never crowded or stressed. If their roots fill the pot they should be moved up to the next sized pot to avoid stunting due to becoming rootbound. Good root development usually occurs as a matter of course when the plants are growing lustily in a good quality soilless potting mix. Hardening off or conditioning the seedlings prior to planting in the garden is also important. This allows them to adjust gradually to the rigors of life outdoors and to the strength of real sunlight; during this period one would also cut back on watering slightly (but still never allow them to wilt) to help toughen them up. I hope this answers your question.

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