Indoor Baby Seedlings Won't Stand up!

MarilynShipleyApril 17, 2013

Hi There-

I'm not new to gardening, but am new to seed starting, and my seedlings are doing terribly. I took pictures of the worst ones, which I killed, but even the ones that seem healthy otherwise won't stand up. Whatever is happening to the ones I took pictures of keeps happening to all of the smallest seedlings I have. They're in a seed starting mix in peat pots under grow lights. The lights are a couple inches away from the plants, and I leave them on 16 hours per day. I water when the soil feels really dry with a spray bottle turned to a fine mist setting. I keep a fan on them because I read that helps them become stronger. I keep it between 60-75 degrees in my house. I'm thinking I'm not watering enough (I was scared of over-watering, maybe I over-corrected), or maybe the fan was a bad idea. I spent a lot of money on materials and lights, built a shelf system, and put a lot of work into this, so I'm so disappointed! I would appreciate any feedback at all. I'm new here but this seems like a very helpful community.

Here is a picture of what I'm talking about:

http://forums.organicgardening.com/eve/forums/a/ga/ul/4551006287/inlineimg/Y/sad_plants_small.jpg

Thanks!

Marilyn

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veggiecanner(Id 5/6)

can you bottom water, instead of misting them?
You need some way to put a plastic liner or pans under your pots so you can water them. if the stems are wet from misting it wall cause rot.
That way you can let water soak up into the pots, and if you over water you can pour off the extra.
I don't use peat pots, So I can't say much about them. I use plastic green house type cell pots, or recycled yogurt cups so I can bleach them if needed.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 11:25AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I suggest a review of all the info over on the Growing from Seed forum here. It has a good set of FAQs that cover all the basics about seed starting as well as tons of info.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing from Seed forum

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 12:35PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

Mist is good for propagating cuttings, but not good for seedlings.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 8:24PM
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kathyb912_IN(5a/5b)

I can't get to the photo from that link, but from your description, it sounds like you are underwatering. Get a tray (pie tin, carry out containers, whatever you have that will hold water) and set your seed pots in it. Then pour water into the tray and let the pots soak it up from the bottom. Your mist bottle may wet the surface, but isn't going to get water down to the roots.

Keep in mind that if your peat pots have dried completely, it may be hard to re-wet them. Don't keep them sopping wet, but don't let them dry all the way out in between waterings, either.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 11:13PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

I water hundreds of seedlings with spray bottles, works great! The trick is knowing how to use it.. I can water much more precisely.. Under pan watering would not be convenient in my situation, I use big shallow rectangular storage bins...

Joe

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 11:23PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Joe: Most of the things you advise people to do lead to failure for inexperienced gardeners. You always say something like "The trick is knowing how to use it." If people knew how to do it, they wouldn't be asking for help. I would advise Marilyn to take the advice others have given.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 1:22AM
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SaraElise(8b)

I generally have good luck just watering from the top. Just make sure they have good drainage and get good airflow or you risk drowning them or developing mold.

I don't start big batches, so it's not bad for me to have the starting pots in large dishes of any sort to catch the overflowed water. I pick my pots out of the dish after they have drained and then dump the overflow into a container to save for the next watering. I think if I had a larger number of plants, I would set them on some sort of mesh screen which would sit over my drain pan--then I wouldn't have to worry about moving the pots to dump the excess water. And, they would get some extra airflow around the pots from below.

Probably due to my own technique, I've not had luck with bottom watering. But, I figure the way I do it works for most seeds and rain falls from above in nature so I go with it.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 4:54AM
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chickenfreak(7)

I agree that it sounds like you're underwatering - I don't believe that the soil for seedlings should ever get "really dry".

I water seed flats with the "gentle rain" setting on a multi-setting water nozzle on a hose, and water them until the water runs through and out. And I never let them get bone dry.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 6:27AM
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