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Myacre
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Location: Houston, TX

Seedlings failing

Hello!
I've started my seeds over 2 weeks ago under the 20W LED grow lights. I the plants look failing. I kept the t in the room around 78 degrees but then reduced it to 72-73 when I noticed that the tomato leaves started to dry at the tips. Everything is still small. Today I added soluble fertilizer. I water well but do not let them drown. Do not know what else to do besides starting all over. Can it be because of the size of the starting pots or because of the material (I use toilet paper rolls)? Desperately need an advice! Thank you!
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applestar
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Re: Seedlings failing

Did you see the post I just made about paper pots featuring TP tubes here?
Subject: Recycled containers for seed starting and uppotting

The reason your tomato seedlings are running into difficulties — tomatoes are aggressive and will range wide spreading roots in search of nutrients. Their roots are at least as wide-spread as their leaves. So at this stage, they are touching the cardboard tubes. This causes nitrogen deficiency, as well as dries out the roots if the paper becomes dried out.

These seedlings look a little leggy and weak. Partly due to needing more light, I would assign blame also on the high temperature. They needed to be in high 70’s for good germination, but as soon as they sprouted, they would have been better off in 60’s to low 70’s. If this is the first time you are fertilizing, they are probably nutrient deficient as well in general from trying to grow too fast.

Yes, they are somewhat stunted, but you could uppot and plant them deeper — at this stage, I would go to something larger like disposable beverage cups. 9 oz or larger — like 12-16 oz — if a good size if you have the room, and you may need to deal with long roots and need the extra depth. Drop them in all the way to the bottom offer cup with drainage holes (I cut off the bottom corner in 4 places with utility scissors and cut slits up the sides with box cutter). Use regular potting mix which has some fertilizer added but NOT moisture control. Bury them up the stems to just below the true leaves (yes, bury the seed leaves). They should start showing signs of recovery and new growths in a week.

— BTW: IF you keep them evenly moist inside the tubes and the paper is kept barely moist, THEN you can create a condition that will promote “root pruning” and could grow healthy seedlings. I have used TPPP for uppotted tomato seedlings at first few true leaf stage. So IF these had been started in a smaller container and had a smaller/tighter root system, THEN they could have been uppotted to TPPP and buried up to their necks. I think however, that these would have long roots and would not fit.

Basil to the right is looking good. They can stay where they are (I think this is another sign that light is not sufficient for tomato seedlings.). Basil is also drought tolerant so as long as you start fertilizing them (1/4 strength for now) they should be OK.

Peppers are much better off started in a smaller container and kept very warm — 80’s if you can, use bottom heat source or place near the ceiling in this room. Seed starting temperatures for tomatoes and peppers are different And peppers can take a long time if conditions are not met ... as much as 2-3 weeks — I always have problems myself. You may be able to get these to sprout still if put in more ideal conditions, but it may take just as long to start fresh seeds that you know for sure haven’t died. I would not recommend using paper pots for starting seeds that take a long time to sprout like peppers. Also, peppers have the opposite kind of root growth — very slow-growing Small root system that can easily get dried out or drowned. You need to pamper them more. Pepper seedlings don’t need as much light as tomato seedlings, so once they have sprouted and have first true leaves, this location in the low to mid-70’s with the basils might be OK.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Seedlings failing

They look like they aren't getting enough light (as well as probably enough nutrients). I can't see the light in the picture. Where is it? Using fluorescent lights they need to be just a couple of inches above the plants and on 16 hrs a day. I'm not sure about the LED's.

But I tried LED's last year and had the same trouble-- my seeds sprouted and then the little seedlings just sat there and did nothing. I have seen other people report the same. Not saying that LED's don't work. But there's a huge range of different LED's out there in a huge price range, from very cheap to very expensive. I got the very cheap ones that looked like a fluorescent tube. I really think they were the problem, because I am using the exact same seed starting set up this year, only with the LED's changed out for fluorescent tubes and everything is doing fine.
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Myacre
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Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:21 am
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Seedlings failing

Thank you! Since my last entry here I reported the tomatoes in 24oz cups with holes for drainage. I put Roma variety closer to lights, about 3 inch from them or so and placed cherries on the windowsill to see how they do there. This side of the house gets sun in the evening hours.
Those were not peppers, those were eggplants which sprouted badly, only 2 out of 10 when the t was still high. I put new seeds recently to try again.
I have more tomatoes coming, I hope they will sprout. It's old bull heart variety, very nice if I manage not to kill them. Given recent experience I'll try to do right by them from the beginning.
Never never never using these stupid toilet rolls again. They all moldy and disgusting. They do disintegrate and let the roots shoot through, but not fast enough to let them the uppotted with the plants.
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