When you are fond of having your own indoor or outdoor garden, you are always worried about how to grow a plant from a wee little seedling. While you might pay attention to it until it germinates, the initial stages after germinating are highly crucial in determining the fate of your plant seedlings. It is important to take special care of your seedlings when the plant is still in its growing phase. Providing it with the right amounts of water, nutrition and light it needs sounds easy, but requires a lot of effort and care from your side. That being said, we have some useful seedling care tips for you that will make sure you are doing everything right for the healthy growth of your plant from seeds. Growing healthy, robust plants from seedlings is a highly rewarding endeavour because it produces higher yield in quicker time which is a win-win situation for you! It is important to pay attention to things such as damping off, temperature, water, light, nutrition and transplanting so that your little seedling is ready to be planted out into the world.
Ensure Proper Light
Light is probably the most important requirement of plants, and you need to know the amount and type of light required to properly grow your seedling. While some plants can grow well by just being near a window facing south, some require artificial lights too. As soon as you see the first few specks of green popping out in the dirt, you can turn on your grow lights, especially during the winter, at night and on cloudy days.
Keep The Seedlings Moist
Seedlings require consistently wet soil, but never allow the soil to be wet all the time either as this can result in the development of mould growth in trays, pest infestation, and damping off disease. But as seeds can’t survive without water, the soil can’t be allowed to dry out completely. Let the soil dry out a little on top, and then water thoroughly. It is encouraged to water them from the bottom, especially if you have a seed tray with holes in the bottom that can help seep the water into the soil more easily.
Feed and Fertilize Your Seedlings
In the initial stages of its life, the vegetable seedlings don’t need a whole lot of extra nutrients, and the starting mix you get in the beginning is enough to provide the seedlings with all the nutrients they need. However, after a few days, you can add some liquid fertilizer. You do not need to give it a full dose as these are still babies. Slowly start increasing the strength as the plant grows.
Transition Seedlings When They Mature
When the roots start coming out of the bottom of your pot, it’s time to plant your seedling outdoors, as long as the weather permits. The general rule to follow is when your seedlings become twice as tall as the height of the tray, they should be moved to bigger pots. An important step that many newbie gardeners miss is hardening off, which means preparing your seedlings for planting outside. You cannot plant your seedlings from your house directly into the garden as this would cause them to wither. You can put them in a shady location outside where they remain protected from too much sun, wind and rain. You can expose them to the sun gradually over the next few days. In warm weather, you can leave them outside overnight.
Avoid Leggy Seedlings
Sometimes, you can get frustrated by experiencing some problems in the growth of the plant that you can’t quite explain. One such problem is having leggy seedlings, which is a common occurrence in indoor plants. As seedlings don’t get any wind or resistance to grow inside the house, they are unable to develop a strong, thick stalk. The resultant thin and slender stalk can hardly support their leaf structure and barely survive when planted outside, where they face harsh winds and light. You can overcome this by fanning the plants a few times in the day. You can also lightly brush the tops of the plants back and forth. This will make the plant develop a stronger stalk.
Take Precaution Against Damping Off Disease
If you notice your seedlings dying shortly after they began growing, it was likely due to this disease called Damping Off, or seed blight. This is a common problem for those who grow seedlings indoors. It is a white mould that forms at the top of the soil and flourishes in weather that is cold, wet or damp. Once it spreads across the soil, the seedling wilts. You can prevent it by keeping the seedling in conditions opposite to the ones in which the mould can survive. Keep the seedling in direct sunlight indoors if possible. Avoid watering until the top soil is completely dry, and water only at the bottom. You can also disinfect your trays before using them again to prevent it from being transferred.
Plants do not like to be crowded, just like us humans. If there’s more than one seedling growing per cell, they will need to be thinned, otherwise they would start competing with each other for nutrients, water and light. Giving them proper airflow also becomes difficult when they are crowded. Snip out the weakest seedlings so that the stronger ones can grow without any interference. If you have a few extra seedlings, leave them for a while as seedlings tend to have a high mortality rate.
If you want more information about growing plants from seeds, or are ready to start your own garden, visit Urja seeds.