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Troubles with Herb Seedlings - Cilantro, Dill Wilting

Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:10 am
by tessaesque
I started several herbs from seed, and all that sprouted are doing well except for my dill and cilantro. Both are in 4" tall pre-potting/planting containers, and both had reached a height of about 1.5-2" before essentially wilting.

Right now, both plants are still green, but the stalks are like overcooked spaghetti. This happened rather suddenly, over the last two days.

Plants are set in front of an east-facing window, in a room with an ambient temperature around 65-68 degrees F. They receive a misting of water in the morning and again at night (2-3 sprays from a bottle set on low mist), which keeps the soil damp, but not saturated. Containers are biodegradable and water-sensitive and do not feel saturated or damp to the touch, so there is not a large excess of water in the soil that I can tell.

Can I save these little guys, or should I dump them and restart? Did I wait too long to transplant them? The cilantro was rather small, with only 3-4 stalks, but the dill essentially looked like a 1" square patch of grass, very full and thick. Each was grown from planting three seeds in an organic starter pellet.

If you have any other questions, let me know. This is my first attempt at growing anything, so I'm a bit ignorant to processes, methods, and the like.

Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:27 am
by applestar
Misting the soil can sometimes give illusion of sufficient watering because te surface becomes damp but often the moisture does not saturate the rest of the container.

Try putting the containers in a larger container -- dish pan, bucket -- and pour in sufficient water to cover the bottom (1/2" to 1" deep) Thirsty soil will suck that up right away so keep adding more, but if completely dried out it may take a while to overcome hydrophobic barrier. Give it 20-30 min. And if there is water left in the bottom of the container, they didnt need any r they've had enough.

Remove the plant containers, let them drain and FEEL the "heft" of how heavy they are. Use this weight as guide. If the containers feel light when hefted, they need to be watered.

The dill and cilantro may Come back to life after good watering.

Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:48 am
by tessaesque
applestar wrote:Misting the soil can sometimes give illusion of sufficient watering because te surface becomes damp but often the moisture does not saturate the rest of the container.

Thank you! I'll try that this evening. Should I put those herbs in a separate container for this, or would all of 'em likely benefit from the bottom-up watering?

Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:38 am
by digitS'
I use bottom watering for all plant starts until they are many weeks old.

It does sound like they dried but . . . they may also be in waterlogged soil and wilt. You have 2 herbs that develop tap roots and can search out moist soil when they are in the open garden. They are difficult to transplant because those roots don't like to be disturbed - wilt again.

Something else I will not do is water more than once a day unless the plants are really living in too little soil. By then, I had better have a way to get them into more soil! For most plants, it is best for water to show up and then be replaced by a little air in the soil -- only saturated for a short time and never completely dry. It gets easier with experience.


Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:10 pm
by madonnaswimmer
digitS' wrote: they may also be in waterlogged soil and wilt.
This, and lack of adequate light was what ruined my attempts at growing cilantro from seed in the past.

You may need to supplement their light as well... My cilantro grew well until about 2", when it flopped over and died. In hindsight, I think it was growing too tall and spindly searching for the light from the window.

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:01 pm
by estorms
I am in zone 5 and plant my dill and cilantro right into the ground. I buy one plant of each herb and put it at the beginning of the row. Then I can use that while my herb seeds are coming up and I don't forget what they are.