We can watch with excitement as the seedlings grow taller, only to realize that they have grown too tall and are now a bit floppy. This is known as leggy seedlings.
At the most basic level, leggy seedlings are caused by a lack of light. It could be that the window you are growing your seedlings in does not provide enough light or it could be that the lights you are using as grow lights are not close enough to the seedling. Either way, the seedlings will get leggy.
This happens due to the natural reaction of plants to light. Plants will always grow towards a light. Leggy seedlings happen for the same reason crooked houseplants happen. The plant grows towards the light and, since the light is too far away, the plant tries to accelerate its height to get close enough to the light to survive. Unfortunately, there is only a limited amount of growth a plant can do. What it gains in height, it sacrifices in the width of the stem. As a result, you get long, floppy seedlings.
Leggy seedlings are a problem for many reasons. First, seedlings that are too tall will have problems when they are moved outdoors. Because they are thin and floppy, they can’t stand up as well to natural occurrences like wind and hard rain. Second, floppy seedlings have a hard time growing up to be strong plants.
How to Prevent Leggy Seedlings
The best way to prevent leggy seedlings is to make sure they are getting enough light.
If you are growing seedlings in a window, try to grow them in a south facing window. This will give you the best light from the sun. If a south facing window is not available, you may want to consider supplementing the light the seedlings are getting from the window with a small fluorescent bulb placed within a few inches of the seedlings.
If you are growing your seedlings under lights, either a grow light or a fluorescent light, the best way to prevent leggy seedlings is to make sure that the lights are close enough to the seedlings. The lights should remain just a few inches above the seedlings as long as you have them indoors or your seedlings will get too tall. Many gardeners put their lights on adjustable chains or strings so that the lights can be moved upwards as the seedlings get taller.
You can also force seedlings that are too tall to grow thicker by brushing your hands over them a few times a day or placing an oscillating fan to blow gently on them for a few hours every day. This tricks the plant into thinking that it is growing in a windy environment and releases chemicals in the plant to grow thicker stems to be better able to withstand the supposed windy environment. This should not replace providing more light, but can help prevent leggy seedlings in the first place.
- Growing plants from seeds is easy, as long as you take a few precautions. One of those precautions is to make sure that you harden off your plants before setting them out in your yard and garden. Why you should harden seedlings When plants are grown from seed indoors, the frequently are grown in a controlled environment. The temperature…
- One common question from people who are growing plants from seeds is “how do I know when my seedlings are big enough to transplant?” This is a good question to ask when learning how to start plants from seeds because transplanting seedlings at the proper time is crucial to their development later on. If you put them out before they…
- Borago officinalis The Borage plant is an annual with an exquisite, bright blue and star-like flowers which are edible.The Borage flowers have very prominent black anthers that grow from its center. It grows to about 1 to 3 feet tall with multiple branches, hollow stems, and large, gray-green, oval, pointed leaves that are hairy. The Borage herb was once known…