Light for Seedlings

Many of us are trying to start our plants by seed this year.  The most frustrating aspect of this drill for me is the fact that my plants won’t grow straight up.

Instead, they lean toward the light.  It doesn’t seem to matter if I have them under grow lights or in front of the window – some of them will lean.

Okay, the technical term for this is Phototropism – the movement of plants toward a light source.

How to solve this problem?

Either rotate your plants so they all are equidistance from the light source or place your florescent lights directly overhead about 6” away from the seedlings.

Another problem that happens for those plants on the ends of the trays – Etiolation.

It’s a fancy word for the symptom of insufficient light.  When the seedlings aren’t receiving enough light, their stems will stretch and the plants will grow spindly.

Increasing light intensity and duration will correct the problem.

If you’re using florescent lights, keep raising them as your seedlings begin to grow.

By the way, any florescent light bulb from the store can be used to light your seedlings.  You don’t need to purchase special “grow lights.”

See, these little “leaves”?  They’re really not leaves at all.   I’ve heard them called “false leaves” but if you want to be fancy they’re the cotyledons.  They will wither and fall off as the true leaves emerge and begin to grow.

Don’t forget, as these seedlings get bigger, you’ll need to transplant them into bigger containers so the roots have more room to grow.

Good luck, fellow gardeners!  Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll try to answer them…and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll try to find it 🙂

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One Response to “Light for Seedlings”

  1. DaisyPatch Says:

    I love the close-up photos. I’ve been starting plants from seeds for over 20 years and, although I knew about the phenomena you described, never bothered to find out the proper terms. I just rotated and went along my merry way. Thanks for the education!

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