Daylilies forum: Spoke too soon, advice needed, please

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Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
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Scatterbrain
Dec 31, 2017 8:12 AM CST
Hi everyone.

Having said yesterday that the plants under the light were doing fine, I woke up this morning to find some of them had developed yellow leaves overnight. Have looked generally online but reasons given for this happening are conflicting and confusing.

Can anyone tell me what has caused this, please?
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Dec 31, 2017 8:32 AM CST
Probably the conflicting and confusing reasons are because there are several that could cause this. Statistically the first possibility would be overwatering. If not that, can you give a bit more history? Temperature of the room, whether fertilized or not, what are they planted in etc. There appears also to be some physical damage to some of the leaves, like something has been chomping on them?
Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
Dog Lover Cat Lover Rabbit Keeper Container Gardener
Scatterbrain
Dec 31, 2017 9:24 AM CST
Hi Sue,

They are planted in miracle grow moisture control with a bit of perlite added, have been watered every three days or so (I wait until the soil is drawing away from the side of the pots and feels dry at the top), I water from the bottom with plain water usually but I did add a few drops (VERY tiny amount) of seaweed fertiliser on the last watering (day before yesterday).

The seedlings are in a converted basement/cellar under a 125watt blue cfs light with reflector suspended from a stand so the light is coming from above. I have checked that the light isn't getting hot at all. The cellar is cool but not freezing as the cats sleep in the other half and have a portable radiator. The cellar also has general overhead lighting (also a cfs bulb in the daylight spectrum range), there is a fan on the seedlings and the timer is set for the light and fan to be on for 16hours a day. There is also a window in the cellar with an air vent.

The cats can't get into the side of the cellar with the seedlings and I haven't seen any insect activity with the exception of a few greenfly which I removed with a cotton bud and diluted soap so I don't think that anything has chewed them.

Edited--looking at the photo, I can see why you think that they might have been chomped, it is actually just the angle of the photo and the tips of the leaves are pointing downwards.
[Last edited by Scatterbrain - Dec 31, 2017 9:27 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Dec 31, 2017 9:46 AM CST
Is the overhead daylight spectrum light on for the same length of time as the blue one? I'm guessing the temperature is around 55-60F (12-15C)? What would be the source of nitrogen?

One thing I would say from personal experience is to avoid the moisture control products. I find they make it hard to water properly and I'd say they were more intended for outdoors than indoors. Do you know if they are polyacrylamide gel, or starch-based? When you pick up the pots before you're watering them, do they feel light or heavy for their size.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Dec 31, 2017 10:27 AM CST
I see some leaves that appear dead, so maybe it is just dormancy setting in on those plants?
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Dec 31, 2017 10:33 AM CST
Seedfork said:I see some leaves that appear dead, so maybe it is just dormancy setting in on those plants?


I was wondering that too, hence the temperature question. I'm still wondering what took bits out of some of the leaf edges, not that that's likely related to the chlorosis. Aphids can cause chlorosis but not bits of missing leaf.

Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
Dog Lover Cat Lover Rabbit Keeper Container Gardener
Scatterbrain
Dec 31, 2017 10:38 AM CST
Hi again, Sue,

It is the moisture control compost (potting mix) with perlite added. I don't think it has gel in it. It is what I have always used for seeds as I usually sow everything outside and just let them get on with it. The intention was to do the same with these seedlings but I lost my nerve when I lost a few seedlings when we were away in Scotland. I would say that they feel light for their size. The temperature is about 14°C in the cellar.

The overhead light is on for the same length of time and is switched off when we put the cats to bed which is the same time as the timer switches the grow light and fan off and is switched on again when the cats are given their breakfast and given access to the rest of the house for the day, again this is when the grow lights/fan are set to come on. During the day the cellar door is left open to give the cats access but they can't get at the seedlings as there is a wire mesh floor to ceiling partition between the two halves of the cellar. Hope that that all makes sense.

I also forgot to mention that there is a dehumidifier on in the cellar. I have half of my seedlings inside and half outside to see what works here. The grow light is 'BLUE SPECTRUM' but is a bright white light it doesn't look blue.

Not sure about nitrogen. Should I be adding it, do you think?

Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
Dog Lover Cat Lover Rabbit Keeper Container Gardener
Scatterbrain
Dec 31, 2017 10:45 AM CST
Hi,

Replies came in whilst I was typing, thanks for all your replies!

I wondered if it was dormancy on some of them as some of the outside seedlings are doing the same but the yellow half of the one seedling that occured overnight is more dramatic. The damaged bits might be my fault if I have caught them on the edge of the trays when I have been rotating the pots as my co-ordination and spacial awareness is very poor so I am generally very clumsy. I could easily have trapped a leaf and not realised as unless I take off my glasses and take items to within an inch of my nose I don't see what I am doing. Hilarious!
[Last edited by Scatterbrain - Dec 31, 2017 2:05 PM (+)]
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Name: Ken
East S.F. Bay Area (Zone 9a)
Region: California
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CaliFlowers
Dec 31, 2017 11:14 AM CST
They look a little stressed.

I found some links to 125 watt CFM lights, it seems like a fairly concentrated light source. Is the "blue" one rated at 5000 or 6500 Kelvin?

How far away from the leaves do you have the light? How large of an area do your seedling pots occupy?

Ruling out spider mites, I see a couple of things that may be causing this, I'd say you have mild leaf bleach or scorch.

Fans are good, but plants will require more water if under intense light with constant wind. I have some tender cactus & succulents in the garage right now, with a small fan running over them, and I have to mist them once a day to keep the soil moist.

I've never run seedlings dry to the point where the soil shrinks away from the sides of the pot. Cycling them wet-dry like that could be causing the leaves to fade a bit, particularly as the seedlings get larger, with more roots.

Bottom watering is generally a technique used to prevent overwatering and damping-off problems while sprouting seeds.

"Popular gardening wisdom" maintains that constant bottom watering will cause salt buildup in soils. I don't think that's a major concern with a short-term project such as daylily seedlings.

Also, it can be difficult to completely re-wet very dry or taller pots by bottom watering alone.

Without knowing the analysis of your seaweed fertilizer, I'd guess that it has a fairly low nitrogen component. It might be fine for using outside in garden beds, because healthy soils generally only require supplementation. When you have plant roots trapped in small pots in an artificial medium, you need to supply everything the plants need. I use a complete liquid fertilizer with both macro and micro elements for seedlings, mixed about half-strength, but applied more often. Look into a liquid Cal-Mag supplement too, because not too many liquid fertilizers supply adequate calcium. Don't buy a lot of that, you should only need it for seedlings. My seedlings and potted plants (growing in coir) grew very weak and soft until I added Cal-Mag.

Without actually looking at the growing conditions and the plants in person, I'd recommend watering them through (multiple times) with tepid tap water, draining well, then giving them a shot of fertilizer solution. If they're really dry, plunge them in warm water up to their rim to thoroughly re-wet them first.

The lowest my garage growing setup gets to in winter is around 6-8°C, with daytime temps running to about 14-16°C. If temps are constantly low, it could affect growth. Combined with water-stress, it might be enough to cause some seedlings to slip into dormancy. I mention this as a possibility because some scientists feel that daylilies aren't affected by photoperiod as much as by temperature. I'm still on the fence, leaning toward photoperiod.

Edit: cross-post alert!

Looks like most of this was covered while I was lounging around in bed typing with one finger. Good ideas and advice from everyone.

[Last edited by CaliFlowers - Dec 31, 2017 11:20 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Dec 31, 2017 12:51 PM CST
If you're using a moisture control product then it has something in it, crystals/gel, often made of polyacrylamide although there are others like starch-based. Perhaps it says on the bag, I find it's often hard to find technical information for Miracle Gro products. See:

https://www.rhs.org.uk/Advice/...

Also

https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/...

Ken, the lights are on 16 hours a day so unless it is long days that trigger dormancy in daylilies (and there's a lot we don't know about daylily dormancy) I would think it has to be temperature - if that's what it is in this case.

Plants need a balance between red and blue light, hopefully the daylight spectrum lamp is providing the red.

The potting mix probably contains some nitrogen. Once it is used up then yes, you do need to supply it. As Ken said, a plant in a pot depends totally on you to provide all the essential nutrients, both macro and micro.

It can be difficult to figure out what is wrong with plants, when it's not clear it is a process of elimination, hence all the questions.
Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
Dog Lover Cat Lover Rabbit Keeper Container Gardener
Scatterbrain
Dec 31, 2017 2:03 PM CST
Hi Sue,


Thanks for your reply.

I was thinking that the red light was only needed once plants were at the flowering stage (at least that is what they told me when I bought the light, was from a hydroponics place/site online and they advised me that seedlings needed blue light only). I don't really want to go to the expense of a second light, might it be better to just put them all back ouside again?


I don't have any of the potting soil left and the garden centre is closed for New Year so can't find out just yet. Will go in or phone them when they open up again. They are in the same mix though as the ones outside which are pale but don't have the same dramatic yellowing that the first one in the picture has, as I say it was fine yesterday. Confused
Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
Dog Lover Cat Lover Rabbit Keeper Container Gardener
Scatterbrain
Dec 31, 2017 2:14 PM CST
ken,

Thanks for your reply and advice, the seaweed fertiliser is just straighforward organic seaweed so contains whatever occurs naturally in seaweed, I can't remember the name of the site that I bought the light from so not sure of the kelvin rating of the lamp but it says it is in the 6400k spectrum on the bulb itself.

I have altered the height in case it was too close to the seedlings and was burning them and will get to the garden centre when it opens aftrer New Year to see what fertilisers they have.

Edited--found some info online about the miracle-grow potting mix, it contains something called aquacoir which helps retain water and also contains fertiliser granules which are coated so that fertiliser is only released in warm and damp conditions when plants are actively growing. Don't know if that helps or confuses the issue!
[Last edited by Scatterbrain - Dec 31, 2017 2:32 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Jan 1, 2018 6:33 AM CST
As far as I can tell, Aquacoir is made of coir pith fibres. The potting mix probably also contains a wetting agent. The "blurb" for Aquacoir says it holds 33% more water (than "ordinary" potting soil). But if the pots feel light when you lift them they probably aren't holding too much. Could it have gone the other way and they're not getting enough water?

Does it give the pH of the potting mix? If the fertilizer is a three month one, which it says on some of the sites I looked at, you probably don't need any yet (unless you started them in it three months ago!).

Plants typically need a balance of blue and red light. Mostly blue affects elongation (the plants are shorter) and blue is not used as efficiently from what I understand. I'm kind of out of date on plant artificial lighting - but if you have the daylight bulb on at the same time as the other it should be providing some red light so I don't think you need another bulb. An ordinary incandescent bulb provides red light which is why they are often used for daylength control (plants measure length of day, or rather night, using red light). I doubt anyone has done any research on the effects of different blue versus red ratios for daylilies.

[Last edited by sooby - Jan 1, 2018 6:42 AM (+)]
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Name: Valerie
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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touchofsky
Jan 1, 2018 8:13 AM CST
This isn't totally related to this problem, but I used Miracle-Gro seedling mix for the first time this year, and haven't been happy with it. This is just purely my own experience, but I have had damping off with Miracle-Gro seedling soil, and never had this problem with the others I have used (Jiffy and Pro-Mix). I also liked a seedling mix made by Schultz, but I don't see that anymore.

To be fair, the seedlings that have survived seem to be growing well. They are being grown under fluorescents. I did suffer significant damping off though, even though this is my 3rd year growing seedlings, and followed my same practices, other than using Miracle-Gro.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Jan 1, 2018 8:26 AM CST
I often think of damping off as being similar to catching a cold. Some years in spite of what you do your seedlings will become victims of damping off , some years despite what you do they will not get damping off .In other words I think you can do the same procedure each year and have different results. It is hard to put the blame on a particular thing like the potting soil, but in some causes maybe you can.
[Last edited by Seedfork - Jan 1, 2018 10:07 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Jan 1, 2018 9:50 AM CST
If we ever get damping off, Larry, we need to look for the source of the fungus (it could be one of several) to try to avoid it again. Questions to ask one's self, did I thoroughly clean (with soap/detergent and water and maybe a bleach dip) all the pots/trays/whatever or use new ones; did I use a fresh, unopened bag of seed starting mix with no holes in it; is the seed starting mix well enough drained and aerated; did I over water; did I over-fertilize (seed starting mixes should have little or no fertilizer); did I maintain a good growing temperature; is there enough light (bright enough and for enough hours a day, at least 12 hrs) would be the main things that come to mind.

Another thing that has been suggested and which I wouldn't have thought of is not to water with very cold water straight from the tap, let it warm up to room temperature. If you've done all that, used clean tools etc. and still get damping off you might contemplate pasteurizing the seed starting mix in future. I imagine most of us don't do the full damping-off avoidance techniques and generally get away with it but if it happens....

The only time I remember losing any daylily seedlings was with Miracle Gro potting mix, coincidentally. It was all I could get for a germination experiment one winter and it was too dense IMHO. I wouldn't ordinarily use a potting mix for starting seedlings. These days, for daylilies, I prefer to start them in vermiculite, although perlite also works.
Name: Valerie
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Irises Roses Peonies Butterflies Birds
Bee Lover Region: Canadian Ponds Garden Art Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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touchofsky
Jan 1, 2018 10:38 AM CST
I agree, every year is different and who knows where my problem originated. I am going to use a different brand of seedling mix for my next batch, and see how they do in comparison. I do think that the Miracle-Gro stays moister longer than the others I have used.
Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
Dog Lover Cat Lover Rabbit Keeper Container Gardener
Scatterbrain
Jan 2, 2018 1:45 PM CST
Thanks everyone for your replies, will try a different potting mix with the next lot and see if it makes a difference. Hopefully as I gain more experience I will have better success, although thankfully very few have actually died and those were the ones I lost during the extended visits to Scotland so hopefully once it gets to spring all the seedlings will perk up.. Thank You!

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