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Seedling problem -- seeds don't seem to know which way is up

Posted by Astroknot 10a/Sunset 17 (My Page) on
Sun, May 15, 11 at 18:41

Hey everyone, here's a new problem for me that hopefully you will be able to help me with:

A few of my seeds this year basically don't seem to be able to tell which way is up. They germinate, and then they sort-of curl themselves back into the soil and start growing downwards. Some of them manage to peek out of the top of the soil, reach daylight, and then dive back down. The ones that don't emerge from the soil, I've dug them up and discovered that they've all curled back to their seed coats. I'm perplexed at why this is happening.

A further bit of information, all of the seeds that have displayed this behavior were ones that I pre-soaking in water overnight. Some of them I also sprouted in coffee filters. But not all of the seeds which I pre-soaked have had this problem, some of them have emerged from the soil normally and are now growing fine. These are the types of seeds which have displayed this problem: green arrow pea, mayocoba bean, morning glory, and 4 O'Clocks.

I guess my main questions are, 1) what exactly is causing this to happen, 2) what should I do to avoid this happening in the future, and 3) can these seeds be helped/saved (thought I'm pretty doubtful about this, I'll probably have to consider them a loss).

Thanks, as always, for your invaluable advice and expertise.

~ Melody

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Seedling problem -- seeds don't seem to know which way is up

The seeds know to send the root down and the stem up. If you just let them alone they will manage. Al

RE: Seedling problem -- seeds don't seem to know which way is up


I assume you've grown those kinds of seeds before, and know what they normally look like.

Is there any chance that they've been exposed to a low dose of herbicide of some kind? I occasionally hear stories of deformed plants due to a bad batch of municipal compost or even a bad batch of commercial potting soil tainted with some kind of persistent herbicide. No way to really confirm those stories, but a low dose of some herbicides (2,4-D overspray for example) can cause curly growth, and it's easy to believe that some species would be more sensitive than others.

If the potting mix is tainted, the only thing you could do is wash all the old medium off the seedlings and transplant them into some new mix.


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