When to start using Miracle-Gro?

Maynard1980March 29, 2014

My tomatoes and pepper seedlings were planted about two months ago, and while all are healthy, many of them seem a bit small and don't seem to be getting as big as others I have growing. Are they still too young for Miracle-Gro, and would that even help them?

Also, if you are an organic gardener and hate Miracle-Gro, please refrain from commenting and lecturing me on how evil it is. Thanks.

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2 months??? Where are you located? In ground or in containers? If In ground, did you amend the soil?


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 12:59PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree that your question isn't clear but I will assume we are talking about young seedlings even if they are 2 months old. 2 month old tomato plants could easily be 6-8" tall and have been transplanted out already.

If dealing with seedlings still in small containers of some kind then you can use your fertilizer of choice after the first set of true leaves develop. Use it diluted to 1/4 to 1/2 strength only.

But do keep in mind that many things besides fertilizer issues can cause very slow growth so you can't just assume that is the problem.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 1:38PM
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My seedlings are still growing in pots in front of a sunny window. I live in zone 7a in Maryland, so it will still be a few more weeks before I can plant them outside. Also, I thought my question was fairly straight-forward.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 2:25PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It wasn't clear at all....thank you for shedding some light on your situation. Since I am going to assume that you are growing in a soilless potting medium, a dilute solution of the soluble fertilizer of your choice should be used soon after the formation of the first true leaves.

Dave hinted that fertilizer isn't the only factor responsible for growth. I attribute a very coarse textured medium, plenty of light, AND a fertilizer with minor elements for robust plants. I'm carting my flats of everything out for real sunshine whenever the temperatures are above fiftyish. In my opinion, sun loving plants will merely languish forlornly in a sunny window. They need more light!

In my little set up, tomatoes are about 12 inches tall and well branched at two months of age.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 3:53PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

My guess is that the seedlings are starved for plant food. Tomatoes would be starting to get too big for me after 6 weeks. I started my early tomato and my pepper seeds today.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 6:47PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

And therein lies the confusion. 2 month old plants inside that have never been fed when most of us would have been feeding them long before now vs. 2 month old plants in the ground (since that is where most would have plants that old).

In zone 7a your plant out date (assuming weather) is April 20th which means your plants should have been started March 1st at the earliest, NOT 2 months ago.

And like rhizo said - without more details about your unusual growing methods there is no way to know if fertilizers is even the real problem. Although it is a pretty safe bet if you haven't been feeding them before now.

Feed them!


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 7:04PM
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maynard: Hope you don't feel like you were lambasted here. The 3 posters other than me that replied are 3 of the most knowledgeable and respectful people on GW.

I was confused also. You said, "My tomatoes and pepper seedlings were planted about two months ago," From that, I assumed they were about 4 months old(sow, 8 weeks growing, and then PLANTED SEEDLINGS 2 months ago(key words). LOL... even here in SoCal, 2 month PLANTED seedlings would have been way too early to let the kids out to play.

Anyhow, like rhizo1 said, should have getting them weak doses shortly after the first leaves.

And like others hinted, there can be other factors like temps, light, and pot size. If you're still a few weeks away, you might want to "pot up." Get them into a bit larger pot(scratch root ball first), water thoroughly, and then start hardening them off for the next week on warm days. After that first week of hardening, you may want to give them some weak doses of ferts. For the remaining weeks, get them as much direct sun as possible as long as the temps aren't too cold.

Hope your view of GW hasn't been tainted. There are some really great folk here(especially those that replied) and I don't know where I'd be personally without them.

Happy gardening!


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 12:03PM
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If the potting mix has had slow-release fertilizer added, I start supplementing after about 4 weeks. If no fertilizer has been added, I supplement a few days after germination with weak soluble fertilizer.
2 month-old-seedlings would need to be in 4" pots at the minimum, but 1-gallon pots are preferable.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 2:24PM
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