Seedling emerging very slowly

saoodhashimOctober 18, 2013

I planted some cucumber, armenian cucumber, tomato, hot chili and jalapeno seeds.

Both the cucumbers quickly germinated in 3 days and opened up their seed leaves in around 2-3 days more.

Next followed the tomatoes and they too germinated in 5-7 days and most of them opened their seed leaves in another 3-4 days. The cherry tomatoes were a bit late.

As for both hot chilli and jalapeno, first they were very late o germinate (infact many seeds have not germinated as yet - more than 3 weeks). Very few of them have germinated and only one hot chili has opened up its seed leaves. The remaining germinated seeds are still part inside the soil. I can see a portion of their stem and leaves above the surface of the soil. Although I can say comfortably that some of them are very very slowly rising (and it doesnot seem that they are dead or having a dampening off), I was wondering why is it happening? Are peppers really so slow compared to the other two.

Btw, one cherry tomato is also behaving in a similar fashion. Very very slow, and still part inside soil.

Could there be a problem from my end? The soil? Does it require fertilizing?

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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Different seeds germinate at diffeent rates, so to some degree what you describe is normal. But under good conditions I wouldn't expect Jalapeno to take more than a week, so I think they are telling you something is off a little bit with the temperature (most likely) or moisture (not as likely). But just a little. Also peppers will seem to grow much more slowly than the cucumbers and tomatoes. It is ok, they mature into smaller plants. I'm not sure what you mean by "part inside the soil", so I can't answer that. Cheers!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 10:32AM
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Thanks Sunnibel

As soon as the seeds germinate and start to get above the soil line - you can only see the little green stem with the leaves still curled down inside the soil. As time passes the stem rises and along with it the the leaves also rise gradually and finally the those seed leaves also open up. By part inside the soil, I mean the little green stem is visible, but the growth of it is so slow that the leaves are still facing down (even part of it is below soil level). Let me try to show you through a picture. The picture I got is not the most perfect one - i tried many times and this was the best I could take - but I think you will figure it out with the above explanation.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:19AM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

That's just the way seedlings emerge from the soil. It's normal. As for your other concerns, peppers usually take longer to germinate than other veggies. However, 3 weeks is a long time. The failure to germinate could be due to environmental factors or possibly they were just old, non-viable seed.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:45AM
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To clarify my real concern was not why they emerge that way. It was actually the time that they stay in this curvy shape before they take their normal shape. The jalepeno, chilli and one cherry tomato are in this state (rising / changing very slowly) for the past 6-7 days.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:52AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

It take longer because your expectations time clock is running fast. If you want them get out of that shape, just wet the seed skin. Then they will bounce off BANG!

This post was edited by seysonn on Sat, Oct 19, 13 at 8:03

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 6:56AM
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peppers have always been very slow, and cucurbita very fast. Tomatoes are fast. To save you another post when you run into trouble in the future, eggplants are even slower than peppers. Look for the coffee filter method in this forum, that helps you gauge seed germination.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 10:09AM
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10 days down the line, the jalapeno pepper seedlings looks the same as shown in the above picture. No sign of rotting but no sign of any growth?

Seysonn: Actually GW does not send a notification if you edit your posts. I believe you edited your last post on this thread and I just saw it today. What is meant by 'wet the seed skin' how? soak it? and then?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 4:39AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)


You can edit your post(s) any way you like but you cannot remove it(delete it)

Removing Seed Skin:
Most(if not all) seeds (like tomato, pepper, onion , cucumber etc) have COVER/SHELL or as I referred to its as SKIN. So when a seed is germinating it is growing root(s) going down and stem coming up, The stem (pair of seed leaves on the tip ) after splitting the skin/cover/shell, pushes it up and out of the soil. For a while the tips of those leaves are held together by that cover until finally they break away Now you see TWO leaves but before it looked like a single leave or a loop, as in your picture. WETTING that skin will make it easy for the leaves to break away BUT it is not normally necessary. That is why some gardeners would soak the seeds prior to planting. AND even some people would sand certain hard shelled seeds even scratch them.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 5:33AM
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These were sweet peppers planted in spring. I knew the seeds were quite old - as you can see, not many sprouted (2 back rows - eventually I got 1 plant only). You can see also few seedlings similar to yours, but they did grow. Didn't take 10 days thou.
Did you have any cover over the container with seeds (to create humidity-some don't use covers)?
Are the seedlings over-watered or under-watered?
Is there enough warmth & light?

I would assume that seeds were too old.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Here I planted 20 asparagus, new seeds. 1 didn't sprout, one damped off (top right corner), and one I accidentaly broke. So I have 17 healthy asparagus plants.
They germinated quite fast (sorry, didn't keep record how many days), then they seemed to stall growing little, but took off after 2-3 weeks.
That was my first experience growing asparagus from seeds.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:50AM
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Thanks Rina

You seem to have pics for all situations very handy :-)

I don't think I have over or under watered them. Also I did not put any covers to create humidity. Is it required?

What are these white pots? Tissue paper? How do you water those?

And you got one pepper plant for all those 20 odd seedings? Is it really difficult to get pepper moving? or is it the old seeds that is the real issue?

This post was edited by saood on Mon, Oct 28, 13 at 9:01

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:58AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Humidity is a good idea, it makes the seedcoat (what Seyson is calling the skin) come off easily. Once seeds are up, you want to decrease humidity to avoid fungal problems. This is most easily done by having a cover of some sort over your damp media while waiting for the seeds to sprout, then removing it once they are up. People use all sorts of things, plastic wrap, sandwich baggies, reused plastic to-go containers from carryout, specially purchased dome-style starter kits.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 9:06AM
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*The lid is (from what I read) recommended, but not absolutely necessary. I personally use them most of the time. I have tendency to over water, this way I can see condensation on the lid & don't add any water. But you have to check the humidity too, and if too much - open the lid the get some fresh air. Otherwise it can get moldy. Have to find a right balance here.

(Edit: I think sunnibel7 was posting at the same time as me-so confirmation from more experienced grower! Thanks.)

*The white around the peat is fabric; these are compressed peat pellets that expand with watering. I don't know if they sell them where you live. If you google compressed peat pellets, you will get good photos of them.
If I was planting lots of seeds, I won't use them.

*Sorry for the confusion, I got only 1 plant from 10 seeds in top 2 rows in previous photo; other 10 were different variety & I had little better result. But as I mentioned, the seeds were old (and I probably didn't store them that well either), so germination wasn't good.

*I am not very experienced yet, learning by trial & error, and reading a lot. I grow lots of tomatoes from seeds, and have very good germination. Even from seeds collected from my own plants. Usually, I get carried away...being afraid they won't germinate, I always plant too many! (Spring 2013 I had 20 different varieties I wanted to try. I planted 10 seeds of each, hoping to get 2-3 plants each. Imagine, just about every seed germinated and I ended up with 187 plants! I don't have space to grow that many, so I was begging everybody to take some seedlings...)
I still had too many left & had to keep them in pots-see the photo.


This post was edited by rina_ on Mon, Oct 28, 13 at 9:32

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 9:26AM
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Thanks Rina and Sunnibel

Rina, what pot sizes you used for your tomatoes?

Further as I see in your pics your seedlings are generally more leggy than mine, but they do work out well later and therefore it is not much of a worry. Do you have any comparision between leggier seedlings and the shorter ones? Any difference in the produce?

I dont know but perhaps the proximity of the light source also results in a slower visible growth (since the seedling does not have to reach out to the light). I though about distancing the light so to see if the jalapeno do rush towards it - well nothing happened. One of my cherry tomato seedling was also behaving in a similar way, its pace however got slightly (just slighty) better when I distanced the CFLs over it.

This sluggish growth should be an indication of some problem? what is it? When should I actually be discarding such seedlings?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 10:20AM
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Since I didn't plan on having tomato plants in pots, I wasn't ready & used whatever I had on hand. Many of them were 1 gallon pots, few 3 gallons. That is pretty small. But in spite of small pots, they grew well & whatever plants I had, they produced some tomatoes. Plenty to sample them all, and even save seeds for next spring. I only managed to plant in ground about 15.

Photos in my previous postings are showing seedlings started without any additional lighting, just in front of south window. So yes, they are leggier than should be.
Once they have at least 1 set of 'true' leaves, I pot them up into bigger pots. Seedlings grown in peat pellets I usually pot up into 3 or 4" pots. I burry them as deep as possible, which is most of the main stem. This is when I start adding fertilizer whenever watering.
(BTW, if you are looking only at asparagus seedlings, I think they are just about right - maybe just a bit etoliated, since asparagus has very long/tall ferny stalks.)

I try to put them outside ASAP to get as much sunlight as possible (make sure you aclimitize them well, even if grown under lights).
Sometimes I pot them up second time into larger pots. I try to get deep pots, since tomatoes have large root system.
(the attached photo is showing tomatoes potted-up second time, from 4" pot into 6-7" pot that are much deeper).

Large distance from light source would slow the growth, I believe they need any light you could possibly supply, short of burning them (as you asked about in another thread - I think it was about CFL's).

If you growing only few plants, maybe you could try to nurse the sluggish ones to health.
Besides what I mentioned, I can't think of any other reason for them being so slow. I don't have experience growing jalapenos.

I would make sure of good air circulation; proper watering; as much light as possible.
Don't start fertilizing too early - not so healthy plant can't use fertilizer.

To get some really good tips on growing in containers, there are many very experienced members on container forum growing peppers, tomatoes etc. Being fall here, you may not get as fast reply as it would be in season.


This post was edited by rina_ on Mon, Oct 28, 13 at 11:28

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 11:04AM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

If the seeds are germinating, then the problem can't be attributed to the seeds. Peppers take longer to germinate and they grow slower than most other vegetable seedlings but they don't take this long (once sprouted). The problems have to be environmental.

Lighting. If the CFL's you're using are the same that I have in my house, then I don't think they are strong enough/bright enough to grow decent seedlings. Just my opinion. And when growing under lights, you want the light as close as possible to the leaves without burning them. I use a 4-foot flourenscent shop light (it has two bulbs) to start seeds in Spring and the leaves can actually touch the bulbs and they won't burn (disclaimer: it's not good to let them touch it). Moving the bulbs away from the plants results in weak, leggy plants.

Growing media. What type of potting soil are you using? And what are the main ingredients in it? From the picture it looks heavy. And from another of your posts, the fact that it gets crusty on top seems like it has a lot of peat in it.

Pots. What size pots are you using? I seem to recall reading that you said they were in 4 inch pots. Anyway, a pot doesn't need to be that big when starting seeds. When a larger pot than required is watered, the potting soil stays wet longer than a smaller size pot. Especially is the plant doesn't have a good root system, which is what plants that have just sprouted don't have, because the plant can't utilize all that extra water quick enough. The fact that the pot stays wet longer is detrimental to a seedling roots because the roots won't grow well in wet soil (not moist, wet). And a plant without good roots won't grow well. The way around this is to use smaller pots, use a lighter potting soil, and/or use a pot that has a large surface area which allows excess water to evaporate quicker (flats, for example).


    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 2:31PM
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Thanks Rodney for your reply. Seems to cover all aspects where I should be looking.

Btw, the same way (same CFL, same pot size, same medium) I got the tomato and the cucumber germinated and now they are outside in their own individual large containers. I believe the CFL should not hopefully be a problem. As for the pot size, since I think that cucumbers and tomato germinate fast and grow quickly the medium had not got very hard and compacted by then and therefore it did not hinder their growth. The pepper are a bit late to germinate and by that time the soil may have become a bit uneasy for them. So the pot size along with the medium could be a reason for this sluggish (or no) growth. I can get a flatter surface for germination, but my real problem is the seed starting mix. I cannot find any over here. The only thing available is potting soil - high in peat. How should I overcome this problem? I have perlite separately and fine sand along with the regular high peat based potting soil? Can I prepare one with what I have available? Will just fine sand be ok for germination?

Perhaps I may have even sown them a bit deep? How deep the seeds of pepper should be planted?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 7:18AM
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