Broccoli Falling Over

huckleberryfriendFebruary 1, 2008

I'm new at gardening and not off to a good start. Started broccoli and cauliflower from seed. Broccoli plants are under fluorescent lights and cauliflower is in South facing window.

Plants fall over (and die) when they get to be about 2 1/2 to 3" tall. My first flat of broccoli was leggy (I think I waited a day or 2 too long to move under lights), so I started another flat. Have the same problem with both flats of broccoli and flat of cauliflower.

The temperature is about 55-60 at night and may go up to 75-80 during the day.

I appreciate any ideas for solving this problem.



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Hi Rich,
I am new at growing indoors under lights, but this season I put a greenhouse in my basement and started growing under lights.
I had a similar problem with my broccoli and some of the other seeds I planted. I was using a soil-less mix of spangum moss, vermiculite and perlite.
After the first 2 crops failed, I mixed a potting soil into my mix at a ratio of 3 parts soil-less mix to 1 part potting soil.
The broccoli, cauliflower and other plants I had the problems with were replanted on January 3rd. They are 4 inches plus, healthy looking and ready to replant into my cubic garden boxes.

I can't tell you what your problem is, but maybe you are having a similar situation as me.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 4:11PM
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Thanks cristi,

I started with vermiculite and sphagnum moss, much like you did. The last mix I made was potting mix and extra vermiculite I might start another flat using just the planting mix and see how that works.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 7:43PM
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albertar(z7 LINY)

As soon as they germinate, get them under the lights, almost to the point where the seedling are touching the lights. If its getting to 75-80 degrees thats too warm for cool crops (even seedlings) like broccoli and cauliflower. Do not fertilize them while indoors, they will need a high nitrogen fertlizer when finally planted out. Vermiculite and sphagnum peat moss have really no nutritional values, so you might be tempted to fertilize them indoors, instead transplant them into either a good seed starting mix or a seed starting mix with a small amount of potting soil. Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 8:14PM
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I have started brocolli and cauliflower under lights for several years. Often they have gotten a little leggy on me. I have had success though repotting them (as soon as they get leggy) and planting them deeper to eliminate the leginess. Then, like the other poster said, get them under the lights asap.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 8:35PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

People keep saying my broccoli got leggy. What does that mean? How can you tell when they are getting leggy? By planting them deep does that mean to cover some of the tall stems with dirt when you re-pot them?

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's garden adventure...

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 3:48AM
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I repotted them and put them next to a window in the garage where it is much cooler. I could tell when I removed them from original container that I had also over-watered them. So far, so good. They seem to be getting much stronger.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 11:19AM
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shellva(Camden 7b/8a)

I am not too familiar with growing plants indoors under lights so I can't give too much help there but I can answer the what does too leggy and plant them deep mean.

Seedlings are not usually supposed to have long slender stems with leaves at the top. Healthy stems of seedlings are usually short and on the stocky side. Long whispy stems are indicative of seedlings that don't have an adequate light source. They are literally growing in search of it.

And yes, plant them deep means exactly that, plant the roots and a portion of the stem below ground. I know one can do this with tomatoes. I was not aware broccoli can be planted this way too...good to know:)

'Plants fall over (and die) when they get to be about 2 1/2 to 3" tall" Are you sure you aren't experiencing damping off??? Does the stem at the base of the plant look dark and pinched?

One of these days I am probably going to get yelled at for this but I highly recommend the winter sowing forum. I have winter sown broccoli seedlings growing in milk jugs out on my deck right this very moment. They are about an inch tall and looking very healthy.

No grow lights, no heat mats, no electricity being used, no shelves to buy or construct, no taking up space in the house, no worrying about watering, no worries about damping off. Okay, I gotta shut up now!


    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 10:34PM
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usually when a plant becomes"leggy" and the stem stretches the plant is not receiving enough light. place the newly sprouted seedling directly under the bulb as close as you can get it without touching it. check it daily because the plant will grow into the bulb. Fluoros do not produce much heat which is good. Read up on lumens and plant light requirements(they differ by variety). most veggie seedlings can thrive on about 1500 lumens per sq. ft. for the first month. Typically, to successfully produce fruit/veggies plants require app 10,000+ lumens per sq. ft. Much greater amounts of light are required by the maturing plant . Also, light intensity diminishes by the "inverse square rule" which means light intensity diminishes at a greater rate than distance increases. The farther the plants are from the light source the less light they receive. In other words, keep them as close to the lights as temps will allow.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 1:40AM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Interesting, so my seedlings aren't doing well, they're too long, are they shot? Should I start new ones? Can these be planted outside and survive? There are some current pics on my blog that show just how bad it's gotten.

It's my first time at this, but I'd hate to have to completley start over.

Here is a link that might be useful: February 8 is where the current pics are

    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 2:05AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Way too long, but not "shot" and starting new ones under the same conditions will result in more of the same. ;) You can salvage them by transplanting them right up to just a hair below the leaves and then get them much more light. As Woody said, long stemmed seedlings like your picture are caused by one thing - not near enough light.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2008 at 2:31PM
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They can be saved. digdirt makes very useful suggestions. One I would add: fashion plant supports out of straightened paper clips and support your babies until they recover. But the won't recover if they don't get more light.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 12:48AM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Out of 16 broccoli starts, one survived and is flourishing. Not bad for a first attempt. hehe I've decided I'll start them and as soon as they break ground I'll plant them outside. We don't get enough light in the PNW in the winter to start seeds on the window sill and I don't have room for a light system.

Oh, and I used the method of burrying the stem like was suggested, thank you!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's garden adventure!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 1:01AM
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