Seedlings Are Leggy - Knowledgebase Question

Holly Springs, NC
Avatar for shuhuilin
Question by shuhuilin
February 20, 1998
I am starting zinnia from seeds for the first time.
After two weeks, the seedlings have grown to 3" tall
but still only have two little leaves. Are these
the "true leaves"? If not, how long does it take
for true leaves to appear? Is there something I should
do to promote the growth of the leaves? Thanks for your

Answer from NGA
February 20, 1998
You started them a little early which may be why they are getting leggy. I like to sow zinnia seed about 4 wks. before the last frost date. Zinnia germinate and grow very quickly - so quickly in fact, that I often sow them directly outdoors after the possibility of frost has passed. The leaves you see now are not the true leaves, the second set of leaves that appear will be the true leaves...they should be appearing any day now. There is really nothing you can do to hasten the process. Where are you growing the seedlings? They may also be getting leggy because they have insufficient lighting. Seedlings will stretch toward the light. If they are in a window sill, you will notice they stretch toward the window (this can be corrected by regular turning). Lighting from above is best, if you are using lighting from above, you may have it too far above the seedlings. Try to situate the lights so they are 1-2" above the seedlings. Also, hold off on fertilizer until you see that second set of leaves appear.

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