Why Your Seedlings are Leggy

Are your indoor starts starting to look spindly and leggy without much leaf growth? This is common in starting your seeds indoors. Don’t worry, I have a solution for you, and luckily there are ways to prevent your precious seedlings from growing leggy.

Seventy-five percent of the time seedlings become leggy because of insufficient light. When your natural light is too dim they instinctively reach for that light. If your plants are next to a window, remember to rotate them every day so every side of your seedlings get some sun.

Your seedlings need 12-16 hours of sunlight to grow into a nice strong plant. In the winter days we just don’t get that kind of light, even if your window is south facing. A quick home gardener fix to this is to purchase a fluorescent or grow light. You can purchase these at a local hardware store or garden center. Hang two of these one to two inches from your plants.

The next reason your plants tend to be leggy is higher temperatures. High heat can cause rapid growth of the stems but not the leaves, you want a nice balance of growth for your starts. Seeds love to germinate at 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit but once your seeds have sprouted they like it anywhere between 60-70 degrees during the day and 55-65 degrees at night. As soon as you see your seeds sprout, remove your greenhouse dome or plastic wrap. If you’re using a seedling heat mat you can go ahead and turn that off as well.

Inconsistent watering can wreak havoc on your delicate seedlings. Seed starting mix can easily dry out if you are not consistent with your watering. Even the occasional missed watering will put them in survival mode because they are not getting the proper nutrients they need. Water your plants from the bottom to ensure they are getting enough. Putting your pots in a tray will help your plants suck up all the moisture they need. It is easy to forget to check the tray for water so set a reminder for yourself on your phone or a calendar.

Crowding your seeds can create spindly plants as well. It is very easy to just scatter your seeds in their designated pots and thin them when it’s time. Giving your plants proper space is important. When seedlings get crowded they compete with one another and keep stretching and stretching for that light.  Space your plants at least one inch apart. To help with seed control check out our mini seeder.

Happy Gardening!