Watering the Just Germinated Seedlings

saoodhashimOctober 11, 2013

I have started some seeds and the seedlings have emerged and are about 2-3 inch above soil level (none have any true leaves). The soil surface generally gets dryer but down under I feel it is not. Now they are in a 4" pot so I cannot stick my finger in to see.

How should I determine that watering is required when the surface seems dry? How far are the roots for such small just germinated seedlings? Can they be left in such a condition for a day?

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Depending on what seeds they are, I would expect the roots to be 2 to 3 inches long. At this stage I usually water from the bottom by putting the pot in about 3 inches of water for a few minutes. Why can't you stick your finger in the mix? Al

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 9:14AM
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And if the seedling is just around 1 inch, that means the roots would be around 1 inch below soil surface? Can this generalization be made?

The "How" to water question comes next to "When" to water. I have difficulty determining this when. The reason I cant stick my finger in the 4" pot is because there are quite a number of seedlings which I will thin off later. At the moment there isn't any space for me to put my finger inside 1 inch. The soil surface seems quite dry but I am not sure whether down under it is that dry. I lift the pot and sense that it is a bit light weight but should I risk judging when to water through this method? My inexperience actually is making me fearful that I will over water....

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 10:07AM
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Generalizations can be dangerous. Some seeds will grow a root longer than that before the stem breaks ground. If you have a community pot of four inches, full of new seedlings, it can dry the moisture from the container pretty fast, especially if it is on a bottom heat pad. I think you would be safe if you put your pot in an inch of water for five minutes every three or four days. As soon as your seedlings have a set of true leaves I would break up the mix/roots and plant each seedling in its own pot. Al

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 1:43PM
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Thanks Al

Talking of true leaves, generally how long does it take to get to the first set of true leaves. Indoors with the ideal circumstances, when will the first true leaves appear? I feel mine are not doing as they should. Infact they have stopped at the seed leaves for quite a number of days now. Some of the seedlings even stopped emerging above the soil lines i.e. part of their leaves are still under the soil :(

I bought a room thermometer today and measured the temps around the seedling near the fluorescent lights and it was around 91-92. I placed a fan and set it on a lowest speed and the temp came down to 81-82F.

I am still not sure when to water them. It does feel a bit moist under the surface of the soil - but then I dont know how moist it should be. Watering is becoming a real problem for me. I really can figure out when to water. Last 2-3 days, I bottom watered and it went fine. But due to peat based soil - it holds a lot of water - therefore I put it on a pile of sand and it wicked the water out - I could see the sand getting quite wet. To relive myself from the pressure of over or underwatering - can I do this every other day - bottom watering and using sand to wick out the extra water. Will this practice make me free of thinking that I have over watered?

With 81-92F. 12 hours of florescent lights, 2-3 hours of morning sun and watering method as prescribed above. Are these some ideal circumstances that I am providing to my little seedlings?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 10:20AM
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Every propagator has to learn to work with the mix he has, and the growing environment. It does require some patience. Al

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 2:15PM
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