If seedlings stretch: causes and practical tips on what to do

By Andrii MaistrenkoApr 16, 2024 08:30 AMGarden
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If seedlings stretch
If seedlings stretch. Source: parkseed.com

Growing healthy, strong seedlings is an important stage in the plant life cycle. However, sometimes seedlings stretch out and become frail, which negatively affects their further growth. This was reported by SSPDaily.

Why do seedlings stretch

The most common cause of stretching is a lack of lighting. But this is not the only reason for this problem. To grow healthy seedlings, you need to understand the reasons for their frail growth in order to prevent unhealthy growth and, if necessary, correct it.

Insufficient lighting

Most often, the reason why seedlings stretch is a lack of lighting. Plants are drawn to the sun, which they lack during this period of development.

Sowing dates

The reason for stretching seedlings, which unfortunately cannot be corrected, but can only be changed if you know about it in advance, is the wrong sowing time. It is very important to observe the optimal sowing dates. You need to focus not only on the dates indicated on the seed packaging, but also take into account the climate in the region and weather conditions.

Sowing seedlings too early also means insufficient lighting. Such sowing, even when using phytolamps, can also lead to stretching of the seedlings.

If you sow the seeds too early, the seedlings may grow when it is still cold outside. The seedlings will need to be kept in pots where there is already little space for them, and, as a result, the seedlings will stretch out.

High temperature

High temperatures in the room where seedlings are grown often lead to stretching. When it is too hot for the plant, the aboveground part of the plant grows intensively.

For most plant seedlings, it is recommended to maintain a temperature of about +24°C until the seedlings appear. After that, the temperature for seedlings should be reduced to +14, +16 degrees. And after a week, 10 days, raise the temperature to +19, +22°C.

Excess moisture

The higher the temperature in the room, the faster the soil dries out, and we water the seedlings. This creates ideal conditions for the seedlings to stretch out.

For a few days after emergence, the seedlings can be left unwatered, then watered when the top layer of the substrate dries out by several centimeters.

Thickened crops

If sown densely, the plants begin to compete with each other, and therefore stretch out. To avoid this, it is better to dive the seedlings sooner rather than later.

Excessive fertilization

It's better not to fertilize seedlings at all, especially with nitrogen fertilizers. Excess nitrogen usually leads to stretching of seedlings.

What to do if the seedlings are stretched

  • Provide the seedlings with adequate lighting using special lamps - fluorescent, LED, sodium, etc.
  • Move the containers with seedlings to a cooler place.
  • To prevent seedlings from overgrowing, remove a few of the lower leaves. This is a kind of shock for the plant, and the root system will develop more actively and the stem will become thicker. If the seedlings stretch again, repeat in a week.
  • Reduce the volume and frequency of watering.
  • Adjust fertilizing or eliminate it altogether.
  • When the seedlings are stretched, you can simply add soil to the lower leaves. This will promote the emergence of new roots on the stem, resulting in stronger and healthier seedlings.
  • Seedlings that have stretched out because they have outgrown should be planted in a permanent place at an angle of 40-45 degrees. In this case, its roots should be on the south side, and the stem should be covered with moist soil to the lower leaves. Tomatoes will like this method - additional roots will form, and the stem will straighten over time. Peppers are not able to form additional roots on the stem, so overgrown pepper seedlings must be grafted after planting.
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