Plant Problems - Leggy Plants

Tree Branch

About Leggy Seedlings

You’re all excited. Your seedlings sprouted. And they are growing long and tall. The trouble is, that the stems are thin and can’t support the young plant. What is a new gardener to do? The condition is called “Leggy Plants”, or “Leggy Seedlings”. It is one of the more correctable problems a gardener faces. And, it is problem that is easily fixed.

The Symptoms of Leggy Plants

The stems of seedlings are long and thin.

The stem is so thin…. leggy, that it can not support the seedling plant. SO, the tender, young seedling begins to droop over.

Your seedlings look pale, lacking the lush green appearance.

The Causes of Leggy Plants

Your young plants are not getting enough sunlight. Most plants that you start indoors require full sun… all day long. Even if you have your plants at or near a sunny window, they are likely not getting enough light.

Second, the indoor air is rather still, with barely a breeze. The motion of wind on the stem of a seedling causes the plant to grow more stem structure to enable it to withstand the wind. Without the wind, the stem grows lanky.

The Cure for Leggy Seedlings

The cure for leggy plants is clear… First, provide more light to your plants.

If you are home during the day, you can be a “sun chaser”. Move your seedling trays from one window to the next, capturing morning sun in an east-facing windows, and afternoon sun from the west. Even this may not be enough.

If the weather is warm during the day, move your seedling trays outdoors. Just remember to move them back indoors as the sun goes down.

We recommend a grow light for all indoor seedlings. Position the light about 6 inches from the tops of the seedlings. Turn on the light at night and off in the morning.  Put your seedlings in a sunny window during the daytime.

An outdoor cold frame is a great place to provide more sunlight to your seedlings.

Next, place a fan near your plants. Use a low setting to provide a slight breeze. Also, you can brush the top of the plants lightly with a newspaper to imitate the effects of the wind. Again, this encourages the plant to grow thicker stems.

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