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what to do after seeds sprout

What to do after seeds sprout

I hope you have had some success in getting your seeds to sprout!
Once the seeds have sprouted, remove the cover. When the seedlings are young, you may want to re-cover them for a few hours a day to keep them from drying out.
Over many years of growing my own plants, one thing that really helped me out was using a turkey baster to water the young seedlings. I found I had better control over the amount of water I gave them, as opposed to using a watering can. I often would use a spray bottle filled with water, however, in many instances, the young seedlings would be bowled over with the spray. Always use warm water, NOT cool.
This is also the time to start fertilizing. Use a water soluble fertilizer such as a 10-52-10. Add fertilizer to tepid water, as directed, and fertilize about every third watering. A high middle number (phosphorous) will encourage a good root system; a high first number (nitrogen) will encourage too much leaf growth and the third number (potassium) will allow for better uptake of food and water from the soil and is good for the over-all health of the plant. At this point, don’t over-fertilize and don’t over-water.
Put the seedlings as close to your light source as possible to prevent the seedlings from “stretching”. If you are using Fluorescent lights, keep your lights on for about 15 – 16 hours a day. If you have them in a sunny spot in the house, make sure they don’t dry out from the heat of the sun. You will also have to turn them every few days to encourage the stems to grow straight and prevent stretching.
Once the seedlings appear to be over-crowded, or have developed their second set of leaves, it is time to separate them and transplant them into little containers of their own, (about 1 ½” – 2”) large. Pick the plants up by the leaves, not the stem or roots when you are transplanting. Make sure the containers you are using have holes for good drainage. Peat pots are excellent ones to use as they allow the water to pass through and you won’t have to remove your plant when planting out into the soil as the peat pot will break down in the moist soil. If you transplant seedlings into a container that is too large, you won’t see much new top-growth, however, the plant will be busy growing roots to fill the container. At this point, you may want to switch to an all-purpose fertilizer (20-20-20). I like using a very weak strength of fertilizer with every watering.
Almost all seedlings will grow into better, bushier plants if you pinch off their top growth after they’ve grown their second or third set of leaves. Never pinch tuberous begonia or celosia. As the seedlings grow, you may want to transplant them again into a container that is a little larger. You may also want to add some soil to your soil-less mix to train the roots to work their way through soil. They will have a better time once they are finally planted into the garden. You will then have some healthy, large plants to transplant outside once the weather warms (usually around May 24th).
As your seedlings grow, use a fan on them for a few hours a day to stress them a little. Also, allow them to dry out a bit by missing a watering and a fertilizing once a week and put them in a cool spot at night. Your plants will be a lot stronger and more able to survive better on their own outside.
Always harden off your plants before planting them outside by gradually getting them used to the conditions in which they are going to grow. A plant that has been pampered with a lot of water, fertilizer heat and humidity will grow lush, green, tender foliage but will be the first to go into shock and keel over in our Manitoba sun and wind. Always put your tender plants into a shady, sheltered spot for the first couple of days and then gradually introduce them out into the wind and sun. If your plants become withered or start showing signs of too much sun (white leaves), give them a good watering and put them back into the sheltered shade. Your plants will soon become used to the conditions and be less likely to succumb to the harsh conditions of the outside. A good rule to follow when planting is to plant your sun plants out first and then your shade plants. Usually the shade plants are more tender and planting out too early (impatiens or begonia) will set them back or you may lose them if the nights dip down to below 10 degrees.
Many plants such as petunias, verbena, alyssum, dianthus, foxglove (foxy), snapdragons, gazanias, centaurea (batchelor button), rudbeckia (gloriosa daisy), sweet peas, chrysanthemum, cosmos and pansies can take a little cold and frost, but, be prepared to cover them if the risk of frost occurs soon after planting out. Use newspaper, cardboard or sheets to cover. Never use plastic as this draws the cold.
About a week after your plants have been planted outside, give them a good fertilizing (like a Miracle Gro 15-30-15 for all your blooming plants and an all-purpost 20-20-20) for all your leafy plants. Continue to do so, according to directions, throughout the summer and you will have strong, healthy plants right through the season.
Stay tuned for some more planting tips and tricks!

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What to do after seeds sprout I hope you have had some success in getting your seeds to sprout! Once the seeds have sprouted, remove the cover. When the seedlings are young, you may want to

Common Mistakes Made While Growing Seeds Indoors

Guidance on Watering, Lighting, and Other Growing Factors

The Spruce / K. Dave

It is quite economical to start seeds indoors, especially when the seedlings grow into robust plants. However, growing seeds indoors can be challenging. To significantly increase your chances of success, avoid these common seed-starting mistakes.

Watch Now: Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Seeds Indoors

Not Supplying Enough Light

Seedlings need a lot of light to grow into sturdy, healthy plants. No matter what anyone tells you, chances are that you do not have enough natural light in your home to grow robust seedlings. Even a south-facing window usually will not do. You can, however, use artificial light to achieve the right amount of light required by seedlings. To do so, obtain grow lights explicitly designed for plants. Or, for a more economical solution, purchase large fluorescent shop lights outfitted with one warm bulb and one cool bulb.

Suspend the lights from chains so that you can raise the lights higher as the seedlings grow. Keep the lights as close to the seedlings as possible without touching them (2 to 3 inches). When seedlings first appear, keep the lights turned on for 12 to 16 hours per day. To reduce your hands-on time, use a timer to turn the lights on and off automatically.

Applying Too Much or Too Little Water

The amount of water you supply can make or break seedling growth. Watering is one of the most challenging aspects of seed starting. Because seedlings are so delicate, there is very little room for error when it comes to watering. You must keep the sterile seed-starting medium damp but not wet.

To increase your chances of getting it right, here are a few things you can do:

  • Create a mini-greenhouse to keep soil moist: cover the container with plastic until the seeds germinate.
  • Water from the bottom to enable the seedlings to soak up water through the container drainage holes. There is less chance of over-watering when you use this approach. Add water slowly for 10 to 30 minutes, and use your finger to touch the top of the soil to ensure that moisture has reached the top of the container.
  • Check soil moisture at least once a day.
  • Buy a self-watering, seed-starting system.

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The Spruce / K. Dave

Starting Seeds Too Soon

Many plants do not tolerate cold temperatures, and exposing them to chilly air or cold soil will stress them out. Chas Gill, who runs the Kennebec Flower Farm, agrees that one of the biggest mistakes people make when starting seeds is starting the seeds too early. Stressed-out plants are more susceptible to pests and disease. Most plants are ready to go outside four to six weeks after you start the seeds.

Planting Seeds Too Deeply

Seeds are finicky when it comes to how deep they are planted. Some seeds need complete darkness to germinate and others require light to germinate.   Proper planting depth is usually provided on the seed packet. If there is no information on the packet, the rule of thumb is to plant seeds two to three times as deep as they are wide. Determining depth can be a challenge, but if you are not sure, err on the shallow side.

For seeds that need light to germinate, make sure the seeds are in contact with the seed starting medium but are not covered. To do this, gently press the soil medium to create a firm surface. Then, place the seed on top of the medium and gently press down, making sure the seed is still exposed.

Moving Seedlings Outdoors Too Soon

There is no benefit to a tough-love approach with seedlings when they are young. They will either instantly die or become weak and then fail to thrive. Even the most stalwart plants, when young, need a considerable amount of coddling and attention.

When your seedlings are large enough to plant outdoors, you need to prepare them for the transition by hardening off.   Hardening off gradually prepares them for outdoor conditions like wind, rain, and sun. The hardening-off process is simple, though it can be time-consuming; it involves exposing your plants to the elements gradually. The first day of hardening off, place your seedlings outdoors for one hour, and then bring them back indoors. Gradually increase the amount of outdoor time every day for 6 to 10 days. You will need to make some judgment calls based on the outdoor temperature and the fragility of your seedlings. If it is a particularly cool day or very rainy, you will want to decrease the time of that hardening-off session.

Sowing Too Many Seeds

When sowing seeds, begin modestly if you are a beginner. If you sow more seeds than you can reasonably maintain, it will become challenging to nurture the seedlings into adulthood. Depending on the type of plant you want to grow, you might be able to direct-sow seeds in outdoor containers or in the ground when outdoor temperatures warm up.

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The Spruce / K. Dave

Keeping Seeds Too Cool

For seeds to germinate, most must be kept warm: about 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. A favorite place to keep seeds warm in order to germinate is on top of the refrigerator. Or, you can purchase seed-warming mats to place under the seed trays. Once a seedling emerges, they can tolerate fluctuating temperatures (within reason). Whatever type of light you use, natural or artificial, make sure it produces enough heat to keep the plants in the 65- to 75-degree range.

Failing to Label Seeds

To be able to identify seedlings as they grow and to know when they will be ready for transplanting, you should label the seed containers as you are sowing. For every type of seed sown, use popsicle sticks or plastic plant markers and permanent ink pens to record the plant name and date sown. Insert the plant labels into the soil near the edge of the container or tray.

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The Spruce / K. Dave

Giving Up Too Soon

Starting seeds can be a difficult process. However, one of the most satisfying benefits of this labor of love is eating a tomato or marveling at the flowers that you nurtured from day one. Growing plants from seed takes dedication, attention, and time. Recognize that you might make mistakes along the way, but you should not give up. The results outweigh the challenges along the way.

Growing seeds indoors isn't hard, yet keeping them alive can be challenging. You can save a lot of money by starting plants from seeds.