how to care for your plant seedlings

Starting plants from seed is one of the most exciting and slightly nerve-wracking parts of gardening. It’s a fun process that lets you get involved in every step of your plant’s life, from seed to maturity.

However, it’s also important to remember that seedlings are delicate creatures that need extra care and attention during their first few weeks of life. Here are some tips on how to care for your newly germinated plant seedlings:

 

  1. Water the seedlings

watering seedlings

One of the most important things you can do for your newly germinated seedlings is to water them properly. Be sure to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Water them in the morning, so the leaves have time to dry off before nightfall.

If the leaves stay wet overnight, they are more susceptible to fungal diseases.

Also, avoid getting water on the leaves because it promotes fungal growth. If you’re unsure whether your seedlings need water, stick your finger in the soil. If it feels dry several inches down, it’s time to water. If not, they can survive a few more days.

 

  1. Provide adequate light

All plants need light to grow, but seedlings are particularly sensitive to light levels. They become “leggy” if they don’t have enough light, which means they stretch out and become thin and weak.

Leggy seedlings are more likely to fall over and break. They have developed weakly, making them susceptible to shocks. To prevent this, Ensure your seedlings get plenty of bright, indirect light. If you’re growing them indoors, a south-facing window is ideal. You can also use grow lights.

Related:
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Seedlings need a lot of light to grow strong and healthy, but they often do not get enough light when grown indoors. Grow lights provide an easy solution to this problem.

Grow lights provide the perfect combination of light intensity, duration, and spectrum that plants need to grow healthy and strong.

When using grow lights to grow seedlings, start with a high-quality light source. LED grow lights are a good option, as they are energy-efficient and emit very little heat. Once you have a grow light setup, place your seedlings under the light for 14-16 hours daily.

Keep an eye on the seedlings, as they will need to be watered more often than plants grown the traditional way.

 

  1. Prune and transplant seedlings

As your seedlings grow, you need to thin them out, so they have enough space to develop properly. Do this by cutting off the weaker seedlings at the base with scissors. Once they’ve grown larger, transplant them into individual pots or your garden bed.

Here is a step-by-step guide to transplanting seedlings:

  • Choose a healthy seedling that has several leaves and a robust root system. Gently loosen the roots with your fingers before uprooting the plant.
  • Choose a pot or growing area with well-drained soil and good exposure to sunlight. If you are transplanting into a pot, make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom.
  • Dig a hole in the soil that is large enough to accommodate the seedling’s roots. Gently place the seedling in the hole and cover it with soil, ensuring not to bury the stem.
  • Water the seedling well, being careful not to overwater. Allow the soil to dry out somewhat between waterings to avoid rot.
Related:
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Remember to handle them gently, so you don’t damage the roots.

 

  1. Fertilize the seedlings

fertilize seedlings

Seedlings need nutrients to grow strong and healthy. You can provide these nutrients by fertilizing them with a diluted solution of liquid fertilizer or by top dressing them with compost or organic matter. Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s directions.

So, how much fertilizer do plant seedlings actually need?

The answer depends on the plant type and the soil it is growing. In general, young plants need less fertilizer than mature plants. When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution and use a little less than you think you need.

 

  1. Control pests and diseases

Unfortunately, seedlings are often the target of pests and diseases.

One of the most common seedling problems is root rot, caused by various fungi that thrive in wet soils. Symptoms include yellowing leaves, wilting, and eventually death of the plant. To prevent root rot, water seedlings carefully, allowing the soil to dry out between watering. If root rot has already set in, you can save the plant by replanting it in fresh soil.

Another common problem is damping off, caused by various fungi and bacteria. Symptoms include wilting and collapse of the seedling stem. Damping off usually occurs when seedlings are kept too wet or too cold.

To prevent damping, provide good air circulation around seedlings and avoid keeping them too wet. If damping off has already occurred, affected plants should be removed and destroyed to prevent the spread of disease.

Related:
Water Saving Tips for Environmentally-Responsible Gardening

Finally, spider mites may also damage plant leaves. They are especially common in hot, dry conditions. Symptoms of spider mite damage include stippling or discoloration of leaves; eventually, the leaves will turn brown and die.

To control spider mites, keep the area around seedlings clean and debris-free. In addition, regular spraying with water will help to remove spider mites from plants. If spider mite damage is severe, insecticidal soap may be necessary to control the pests.

If you notice pests or diseases, take action immediately to prevent spreading to the rest of your plants. There are many organic pest control solutions available.

 

Conclusion

It’s frustrating when you’re trying to grow seedlings, but they keep dying off. Don’t fret, though. You still got the green thumb but need to slightly change your technique to give your little growers the chance to flourish.

Luke is a passionate environmental advocate based in upstate New York. When he's not sharing tips on sustainability and wellness, you can find him hiking with his dog, Max.

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