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Seeds sprouted, really skinny.

Posted by pinktermite (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 11, 10 at 9:31

Ok, I'm a rookie. I sowed a plastic flat of tomato seeds, which all sprouted and are under a nice shop light with plenty of heat in the room. But they are about 1.5" high, super skinny and have two itsy bitsy tiny little leaves on the top, they are almost falling over, they are a week old. Is this normal? Do I wait and they will get thicker and grow actual real leaves? What do I do next? Thanks.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Seeds sprouted, really skinny.

How warm is your room?

And how close is your shop light to the top of your plants?

And have you ruled out dampening off disease (check the FAQs on this forum)?


RE: Seeds sprouted, really skinny.

Congrats that they came up! That's more than I can do with some seeds... It sounds like they don't have enough light - they should be almost on top of the seedlings @ 2" away & the lights should be on 12 hrs. a day. I also change my bulbs every season - are they new(er)? Also, I don't know your zone, but tomatoes are usually started @ 2 -4 weeks before your last frost date - they germ./grow quickly & i have found they become root bound/stunted if in small pots for more than a couple weeks. They also don't tolerate fake day light for very long either. Good Luck!

RE: Seeds sprouted, really skinny.

Set a SMALL fan near them so they get a GENTLE breeze. This will give them better air circulation, help prevent damping-off and strengthen their stems...and what the others said about the lights being closer :D

RE: Seeds sprouted, really skinny.

You want soil heat for germination and cooler air temps for growing on. Ideal air temps for growing on tomatoes should be about 55-65 degrees. Helps keep them stockier; warmer air temps encourage leggy growth.

RE: Seeds sprouted, really skinny.

Is it normal? No. You have what are called "leggy seedlings" and the stems won't get thicker, won't be able to support any new leaves and will fall over and/or break if left on their own.

One thing that has not been mentioned is how long you left them under the plastic cover (if you used one) AFTER they broke the oil surface? If you let them do more than just break the surface of the soil under cover and before putting them under the light, then that is what caused your problem. As others have said, the heat and distance from the light is only magnifying the problem.

But they can be saved and to do so you must transplant them into deeper containers/cups, burying all of the stem right up to just barely below the seed leaves. Normally that transplanting is left until they have developed true leaves but those won't be able to hold up the weight of true leaves so they need to be done now. Roots will develop all along the buried stem and the new growth will be much stronger.

Once they are transplanted set them under the lights as close as possible. The leaves can actually be touching a bulbs with no problems but 1/2 inch between the leaf and the bulb itself is ideal. That will keep them from stretching again.

For more info on what causes this problem and how to prevent/correct it you can search 'leggy seedlings' here or on Google for details.

Good luck.


PS: you don't indicate your zone or location in your post so depending on where you live you may have time to start over for better results.

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