My friend Michelle asked me the following question via Facebook last week:
Amy, my garden guru…my seedlings are all falling over (still inside). What does this mean? They have enough water…what do I need to do to make them happy?
First of all, I’m no garden guru! I only have two years experience under my belt. But I have learned some things along the way which I am happy to share via this blog.
My first question on falling seedlings is “how big are your seedlings?” If they are getting pretty big then they may be falling over because their pot is too small. See my tomato plant:
This tomato plant is leaning over the side of its pot. And I even repotted it into a larger homemade container! The plant otherwise looks very healthy so I’m not too worried. I’ll be transplanting him to the garden soon.
This tomato plant is standing straight up:
Good for him! Some of my pepper plants are leaning over too:
Again, the pepper plant otherwise looks very healthy so I’m not worried. By healthy I mean that the leaves are green and there’s no yellow or brown spots. The leaves are not dying off.
Another reason why it’s no big deal if your plants are leaning over is that when you transplant them you will actually bury a lot of the stem in the ground. You should dig a hole deep enough so that the first real leaves are right above ground level. See this picture:
Remember cotyledons are not true leaves so they don’t count. Bury them in the ground. Plants will actually sprout roots off the part of the stem that is buried underground. A good root system makes the plant stronger and healthier and in turn gives you more veggies to enjoy!
Now if your seedlings are not very big but are still falling over, it may be because they are “leggy”. Leggy seedlings have long and skinny stems. See this tomato plant:
Seedlings get leggy because they are reaching for a light source. If the light is too far away they will reach higher and higher to get to it and as a result their stems are not very strong. To solve this problem put a light source closer to your plants. I put a lamp on mine when they are just sprouting. This guy was a late germinator so the lamp was off when he started growing, hence the legginess.
Finally if your seedlings are falling over it may be because they need water. Are you keeping them moist enough? If they look a little wilted and are leaning over, give them a good drink of water and check on them in 12-24 hours to see if it makes a difference.
And if none of these things solves your problem then consult a master gardener because I don’t know what the heck is going on! 🙂