Plants Falling Over!!!!!!!!!

eddiebuckDecember 31, 2009

"HELP"I have always had a problem with my collard and cabbage plants I grow in trays.When they get about four inches high,they start leaning over and by the time they are ready to transplant out,they are a tangled mess.

Nice plants,but are "Z" shaped and a bugger to seperate and plant straight.I was thinking maybe not enough light,but those I start in the sunshine in trays does it too,as does those started in the soil inside my coldframe.Also they don't all lean the same way,as if searching for light.Could "damping off"cause it,and not kill the plants?

Anybody have an idea what I'm doing wrong?? Thanks, Eddie

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Plants will always lean toward the light, but it sounds like yours are top heavy. Plants in containers sprout just below the soil and don't have strong enough roots yet to hold the plantsupright. Also watering may wash away some of the soil.

When you plant them out do they stay straight? Do you set them out at the same height or deeper? Maybe all you have to do is add a bit more soil around the roots. If that doesn't work then give them something to lean against. A popscicle stick works as a small stake.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 7:51AM
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It sounds to me like they just aren't getting enough light. I use T5 fluorescent tubes for starting seeds because they can be placed very close to the plants. I also keep a fan running on low nearby.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 8:17AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree. Classic sign of insufficient light. Need more artificial lights and keep them less than 1-2 inches from the plant tops. With an adequate light set up it is easy to grow strong, compact seedlings. Without one it is nigh on to impossible unfortunately. There is a good FAQ here on how to set up a good light set-up.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 3:55PM
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karyn1 and digdirt.....Lack of Light,thats what I had thought,until I sowed some trays and coldframe thats in the sun all day.They were the same,some leaning one way and some the other.
oilpainter.....Top heavy is what it seems to be.If the plants are leaning from lack of light,it would seem they would lean the same way.I think I will sprinkle a little more potting soil around their bases this year and see if that will keep them straight.They do fine once transplanted,but planting "Z"shapped stems is a pain LOL.Thanks everyone,I'll let you know how they do this spring. Thanks Again

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 6:27PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Eddie - you are assuming that full sun exposure would be sufficient for short stocky transplants. And depending on what your cold frame is made out of (how much intensity and spectrum it reduces), in June and July that would be true.

But unless you live in the southern hemisphere that just isn't true for this time of year. Even in the greenhouse supplemental lighting is required this time of year to prevent leggy, leaning, weak stemmed transplants. Not only is the # of hours of sun exposure right now insufficient but so is the spectrum, the intensity, and the angle. ;)


    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 9:04PM
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Thanks,digdirt,I never gave that a thought,about the days being shorter,plus less intensity and angle,equals less light this time of year.

I was taking for granted that they were getting enough light in direct sun.I will definitely get more light on the plants.I, like a lot of other gardeners, can't wait for spring and jump the gun,trying to out smart mother natures planting time,and every day getting a seed catalog in the mail,ain't helping none.LOL
Thanks again folks for your help.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 2:32AM
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Yup deffinitely inadequate light.

Also keep in mind in the northern states even all day sun is not very intense due to the angle of the light coming through the atmosphere, so therefore not as warm and not as usefull for growing from seed...


    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 11:39AM
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It may be insufficient light or maybe not. That is one cause but not the only one. The Op did not say they were leggy and that is a classic symptom of insufficient light. They get leggy and then fall over.

Watering from the top and washing the soil off of tiny plants with tiny roots will cause plants to fall over too. I always water seedlings from the bottom and have put extra soil around the roots occasionally when plants fall over in my greenhouse

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 5:03PM
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Mel,not enough light seems to be the problem alright,thanks.

oilpainter,I have even used Styrofoam trays setting on capillary mat and have the same problem and never watered from the top.
Thanks everyone for showing me the "LIGHT" lol eddie

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 11:38PM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Use a fan as soon as they get 1/2 inch tall or so ,it will help strenghthen the stems ,a couple hours a day should help,

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 8:19AM
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dickiefickle,that sounds like it will help also.
will do. thanks,

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 1:13PM
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Make sure that you use fluorescent bulbs. T5 lighting is best for seedlings but it's not necessary to invest that kind of money for a few trays. Fluorescent lights can be placed so they are almost touching the seedlings as they don't give off heat. I use HID MH and HPS lights for mature plants. I also use fluorescents in the greenhouse. A fan on a low setting will keep the air circulating and cut down on diseases.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 1:03PM
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