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Moonflower seedling turning purple

Posted by dirtgently 5a (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 3, 11 at 18:35

This is my first go-round starting from seed. I have a moonflower seedling that's started turning purple over the last couple of days, and I'm not sure what to do about it.

The stem and seed leaves were a healthy green colour from germination through day 9. Purple colour started creeping up stem and into seed leaves day 10 through 11 (today). The seed leaves are now purple-black, yellow, and sad looking. True leaves are just budding. There's a rootlet poking out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. It's in store-bought seed starting mix containing perlite, compost, peat moss.

From Dirt Gently's Horticultural Adventures

From googling, it sounds like the seedling is suffering from a phosphorus deficiency. The question is what can I do about it?

* Should I feed it? I was under the impression that they don't need to be fed until a couple of sets of true leaves have emerged.

* Should I pot it on? One Web site said that constrained roots could cause P deficiency. There's a rootlet poking out the bottom, but I'm worried that transplanting at this stage might be even more detrimental to the seedling.

* Too hot / cold? The pot's sitting on a heat mat (~25C), air temperature varies between 15 and 25C.

* Dim the lights? It's sitting about an inch from a pair of T8 bulbs.

* Water less? It's never soggy, just a little moist.

* Don't worry, be happy; this is normal.

* Something else?

Here is a link that might be useful: I blogged about the purple moonflower seedling with more pictures


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Moonflower seedling turning purple

Some of the Daturas have purple stems and tint to there leaves. Were the ones you planted supposed to be the white?


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RE: Moonflower seedling turning purple

Well, I'm certainly no expert, but I always feed seedlings with some fish fertilizer. Its gentle enough for seedlings and really seems to perk them up when they don't seem happy.

I looked through your pictures DirtGently, you take some very nice photos. :)


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RE: Moonflower seedling turning purple

These moonflowers are supposed to have white flowers with green leaves :/ I wouldn't normally worry, except the leaf margins look so sad.

I will try Luvahydrangea's suggestion of gently feeding the plant. Would seaweed fertilizer be equivalent? I am told that fish emulsions tend to smell.

I will also transplant to a larger container, as its root system seems to want more room.

And thank you for the compliment, Luvahydrangea!


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RE: Moonflower seedling turning purple

The white datura do not have purple at all. the leaf edges do look sort sad. I use seaweed to. I do not fertilizer Datura much as they are a desert plant and do not do well if over fed or over watered. Hope this helps. Keep us posted on how they do.


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RE: Moonflower seedling turning purple

Yes, fish emulsions do smell! My neighbors love when I use it outside, not! :)

Seaweed is good too, but doesn't have nitrogen and phosphorus, only potassium. If the smell is really an issue, (its not for me because all my seedlings are in the basement) then I would say the seaweed is certainly better than nothing. :)


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RE: Moonflower seedling turning purple

Dirtgently, Im having the same problem except mine are outside in the ground. I havent tried anything yet but Im going to try the fish emulsions. im woried now that the soil is too compacted. If I dont water them everyday then they wilt in the hot dry sun here in New Mexico. The soil dries out really quickly. How did yours turn out? Any other advice?


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RE: Moonflower seedling turning purple

Green Jesse: Transplanting into a larger container and gently feeding it didn't improve the colour situation, but the plant actually did fine until I finally had to throw it out due to a bug infestation that I couldn't get rid of.

I did start a second round of seeds that did considerably better (they didn't have purple leaves).

I do suspect that the purple colour could have something to do with colder temperatures now.


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RE: Moonflower seedling turning purple

Well, the temperatures here are between 80 and 100 degrees
And upper 60s at night. that seems ok. As long as the true leaves do better and the plant won't die then all is well. Thanks for you help. Keep us posted!


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RE: Moonflower seedling turning purple

I've made a discovery. I started fertilizing my moonflower about a week ago with fish emulsions (phew by the way. Stinky) and the purple in the leaves and stems have started to disappear and are getting greener everyday! I've changed nothing else other than the fertilizer so I'm guessing it was the phosphorus.


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