0 Common Problems with Seedlings

Other than babies I apparently suck at growing things inside. I kind of take the approach of closing my eyes and hoping it all turns out. Unfortunately this approach is not really working when it comes to starting our garden from seeds. Last week I noticed that my seedlings weren't doing so great. Some were saggy while others were drying up. I tried watering from below (pour water into the bottom of the container) instead of misting from the top. I tried leaving the lids off the containers. I tried watering more and watering less. Finally I decided to head to twitter for advice. The best advice I was given was to try moving them to another room that had a bit less sun as the window I had them in was direct sunlight. I split my seedlings up into those that had fully sprouted and those that had just started or were being lazy and hadn't done anything at all. Those that had fully sprouted I moved to an upstairs bedroom window that still got sun but not as much as the kitchen window. I left the tops off and watered from the bottom every other day.  It took about 3 days to notice the difference. I was able to save most of them...but sadly not the herbs. They continued to weakly slump over in their containers.

Common Problems and Solutions

Most problems encountered when growing seedlings indoors are very common and can easily be rectified to save the plants. Keep an eye on your seedlings so you can catch any problems early.

My seeds aren't sprouting
There are three reasons your seeds might not be sprouting. They are old, you are impatient (I always am) or they are too deep.

  • Your seeds are old. You can check to see if they are still viable by placing a few in a damp paper towel and putting in a warm location for a week. If they sprout then they are good, if they don't then you have duds and you need to get new seeds.
  • The germination period is long. It may just be that those particular seeds need a lot longer to sprout. Check the packet (or the internet) to find out the typical germination period. 
  • Planting depth was too deep. Each seed requires a different depth to be planted at and it is normally indicated on the packet. If you don't have any information on planting depth on your packet then check the internet for guidelines. If you realize you planted the seeds too deep I would recommend replanting new seeds in the soil at the proper depth

I have mold on my containers 
Mold is caused by excess moisture and lack of air movement within your larger container or even the containers you planted the seeds in. Cut back a bit on the amount you are watering and leave the lids off the containers to increase the air flow. 

My seedlings are saggy
Gravity is a real bitch isn't it? Unfortunately so is direct sunlight and over-watering. Once the seeds have sprouted move them to indirect light and cut back on the watering. Obviously this is a bit part of where I went wrong but I caught it in time to fix it. 

I planted multiple seeds in one container and they all sprouted!
Lucky you! I am jealous of your obvious gardening genius. You need to thin the seedlings out (basically pick which ones live and which die) by removing the weaker seedlings and allowing the strongest grow. If you have a lot of strong seedling you can attempt to split them up into separate containers in an effort to save them all. 

I have no idea what is in each container anymore
I hear ya! I wrote on each toilet paper roll exactly what I was planting. But after weeks of watering I can barely read most of what I wrote. Luckily I am a really really anal good planner and I created little legends on top of each container. As I moved items around I updated the legend to keep me on track. If you are super nerdy you could even create a spreadsheet (NOT THAT I DO EXACTLY THIS NOW).  Or if you are a craft genius there are tons of ideas on Pinterest for garden markers that you could adapt for your seedlings. 

My seedlings are leaning in one direction
Seedlings need an equal amount of sunlight on all sides or else they will just grow in the direction of the sunlight rather than straight up. Turn your seedlings daily to correct this problem and promote healthy stem growth. 

Don't forget to stock up on the essential gardening tools!
Seed dibbler with markers to help you plant seeds at the proper depth
Soil cube tool
Indoor greenhouse - small
Indoor greenhouse - large

How are your seedlings coming along? What problems have you ran into and what were your solutions?

Related Posts - Check them Out
First Sprout
Garden Project - Sowing Indoors
Garden Project - Planning

photo credit: girlingearstudio via photopin cc
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