Leggy plants- help!

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Almost all of my seeds germinated but the plants are very leggy. This happened last year and the plants fell over before they were sturdy enough to transplant. I used a good seed starter and grow lights. Can someone tell me what I'm doing wrong?

-- Lena(NC) (breezex4@go.com), February 17, 2001


I had the same problem last year, and I'm sure it has to do with not getting enough light, but I haven't figured how to solve the problem. I also used grow lights, tried putting them closer to the plant, but decided they just weren't enough. Sorry, I guess this doesn't help. Maybe someone else will have an actual solution both of us can use.:-) mary

-- mary, texas (marylgarcia@aol.com), February 17, 2001.

The lamps are too far away from the plants, hence they reach for the light and become leggy! I don't use lights and plants reach for the nearest source of light and become leggy too. I just prop them up with popsycle sticks or the like. Tomato plants can be planted deep when transplanted as they will develop roots all along the stem. Not sure about all plants though. Actually when seeds are planted they should be put where there is restricted light until germination so I'm told. Top of a refrigerator is a good place according to some. once germinated the lamps are supposed to be 1" to 2" above the tops of the plants, this is assuming flourescents are used, incandescents give too much heat which is bad for young plants.

-- Bob Johnson (Backwoods_Bob@excite.com), February 17, 2001.

Put a small oscillating fan near the plants so that the breeze will shake them. This will inhibit the legginess a bit and make the stems stronger by having been moved by the air current. It sounds crazy but it does work. When hardened and planted outside, these plants are less prone to wind damage too.

Also, you can rig aluminum foil or mylar so that the light is reflected back onto the plants. I've done this with plants growing near a window with good results. It really cut down on the plant leaning toward the light.

The other thing that will reduce legginess a bit is to reduce growing temperatures to about 65o.

-- marilyn (rainbow@ktis.net), February 18, 2001.

Everytime I ever had this problem it was with tomato plants and I was giving them too much water.

-- Linda Al-Sangar (alsangal@brentwood-tn.org), February 18, 2001.

The lights need to be so low that they almost touch the seedlings, then you raise them as the plants grow.

-- Shannon at Grateful Acres Animal Sanctuary (gratacres@aol.com), February 18, 2001.

Yes, lower your lights. They really do need to be just about touching your plants. The fan idea is a good one as not only does it strengthen them, but it also keeps the top of the soil dry which will inhibit funguses and other nasties (you will have to water more often, though).

-- Wingnut (wingnut@moment.net), February 18, 2001.

Thanks to these great answers, I hope to be putting my own plants in the ground this year. Thanks to all who answered.

-- Lena(NC) (breezex4@go.com), February 18, 2001.

Leggy seedlings are generally from 1) not enough light and 2) too much nitrogen. That's why seed starting mixes have almost no nitrogen.

-- Laura Jensen (lrjensen@nwlink.com), February 19, 2001.

As soon as true leaves grow in, repot the seedlings up to the seed leaves. this will take care of some original legginess. Make sure after that that the light is close enough and strong enough and that they don't get too hot. This works for me every year and I don't use a light, just a south/southeast windowsill.

-- Alison in Nova Scotia (aproteau@istar.ca), February 19, 2001.

We rotate ours daily in the sunroom to combat legginess from sun seeking.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (jayblair678@yahoo.com), February 22, 2001.

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