Starting seeds in a greenhouse - Knowledgebase Question

Quncy, Mi
Question by dmacklin
May 29, 2008
I have a 6' tall greenhouse that is about 3' across and deep. I got it to start seedlings, but I keep getting beautiful seedlings, but instead of sprouting a second or third set of leaves, they get tall and spindly and flop over. Why can't I get more compact, leafy seedlings? I use the seed starter mixture and have used Miracle Grow potting soil, but both ended up the same way. I water daily as need, but I don't keep them wet and the greenhouse is in a sunny spot. I always had this problem when I started seeds indoors, so that's why I got the greenhouse. Grrrrrr
Any suggestions? Thanks for your help. You guys are great!

Answer from NGA
May 29, 2008


Although it would seem that seeds should germinate and grow beautifully under greenhouse conditions, the fact of the matter is that your seedlings need a source of artificial light until they've developed 3-4 sets of true leaves. The tall, spindly and then floppy growth you describe is a classic symptom of too little light. Set up a corner in your greenhouse where you can provide supplemental light to your seedlings. I use fluorescent shop lights (two tubes per unit) and hang them from chains so I can move them up as the seedlings grow. Keep the lights only 3-4 inches from the tops of the plants (moving as the plants grow), and keep the lights on 12-14 hours a day. Be sure to turn them off at night -seedlings need time to rest.

I think you'll find a world of difference in the quality of your seedlings with this simple step.

Best wishes with your greenhouse adventure!

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