Leggy Seedlings: Causes, Prevention and Fix

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Leggy seedlings in a bottle due to overcrowding and lack of sunlight

Your seeds have finally sprouted but you fear for their strength and vigor: The seedlings look very weak and leggy. Can you save them? Yes you can. In this article, you will learn why your seedlings grow leggy, what you can do to prevent leggy seedlings and how to fix a leggy seedling.


Causes and Prevention of Leggy Seedlings

  1. Sunlight

When there is no light, the seedlings will stretch out in search of light and become leggy. When germinating seeds indoors, use LED grow lights or place it near a window that gets at least 5-6 hours of sunlight.

  1. Overcrowding seeds

If you put too many seeds in one place, all those seedlings will compete with each other and become leggy. Keep proper spacing between 2 seeds so they grow to their full potential.

  1. Temperature

If the daytime temperature and nighttime temperature is equally high, the seedlings will keep growing throughout the day and turn out to be leggy. The temperature at night time should be low.

  1. Ammoniacal Nitrogen

Your seeds may be getting ammoniacal nitrogen that is making the seedlings stems tender and tall. Make sure the seedling mix that you are using contains Nitrate nitrogen, not ammoniacal nitrogen.

  1.  Too much Fertilizer

If your seedling media is very rich in nutrients, the seedlings may get a lot of nutrition that causes fast and leggy growth. 


How to Fix Leggy Seedling

To fix a leggy seedling, take it out gently and carefully with its entire root system and plant it in its own separate 4" deep pot. While transplanting, bury as much of that leggy stem as you can. While burying, you can gently bend down the stem


The above solution has been tested on the following seeds: tomato, cosmos, sweet pea, sunflower, lettuce, broccoli, cucumber, kale, radish, cabbage, pepper, okra, zinnia, spinach, dill, squash and coriander.

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