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Halfway
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Leggy? Leaning? Cherry Tomatoes

No photos yet, but I have a question for the experienced.

I have cherry tomatoes under the lights and almost all 8 have fallen over. The funny thing is, they are now "s" shaped with the leaves pointing back at the lights. No wilt and true leaves have emerged.

I see no indication of damping off, but it appears they got too tall and cannot hold themselves up. They are getting plenty of fan and are no more than 2 inches from the lights.

I am wondering if I left them in the dark too long waiting for the whole row to germinate?

Anyone with experience in this?

Also, I am bottom watering and give them about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water. The soil appears damp, but the behaviour of them falling over has me wondering about over/under watering.

Thanks all!
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gixxerific
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Cant's say if this is right but if it were me I would repot them and bury the stem. In my belief this would make a stronger plant or at least tell you to cull that one if it didn't make it and try again.

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Halfway
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That is a great idea! Thank you.
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rainbowgardener
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It is a good plan. I agree, not damped off. If they were, they would not be righting themselves again and putting out new growth. So yeah, sounds like a good guess about leaving them in the dark at the beginning. As soon as they are out of the ground they need light. Having the light on them does no harm to the ones that haven't sprouted yet and are still under ground.

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Duh_Vinci
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Excellent advises given already, indeed, re-plant them, and bury them all the way up to the cotyledon. This process stunts the plant (in the good way), preventing temporary upwards growth, and instead, promoting root development.

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D

garden5
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That is exactly what just happened to me! I think it may have even been the cherry tomatoes, too; I'll have to check on that one!

I had the seeds in a heated area to as to provide bottom heat to make them grow faster. The are did not have much light at all. What happened was a group sprouted, but many other did not, so I left it there another day. The next day, the seeds that had emerged were like 3 to 4 in. tall. I did not like the leggy looks of them, so I put them under the light.

So...the rest of the seeds that germinated under the light are staying stocky, while the other ones are really leggy and laying almost parallel with the dirt, but with the leaves facing upwards.

I decided to take them and bury them deeper in the cells that they are already growing in. I did not bury them up to their leaves, but I did bury them so that they are now the same height (1 in.) as all my other plants.

I did not think that they would make it since they are really young; in fact, the true leaves are almost nonexistent. So far, after one day, they all seem to be doing good. It will be a few days, though, before I can say definitely that they have taken, but things look good so far.

Next time, I will germinate them directly under the light. In my opinion, the dirt covering them gives all the darkness they need.

Good luck with your plants! :D
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jal_ut
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Emerging seedlings need bright light as soon as they break ground. If they don't have it, they immediately stretch out trying to reach some light. The result is; they get leggy and too tall for the strength of the stem so they can fall over easily.

You can repot them a little deeper and give them better light and they will do fine.

If you have leggy tomatoes at time to plant them out, you can bury several inches of the stem. The stems will send out roots.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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Halfway
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garden5 wrote:That is exactly what just happened to me! I think it may have even been the cherry tomatoes, too; I'll have to check on that one!

I had the seeds in a heated area to as to provide bottom heat to make them grow faster. The are did not have much light at all. What happened was a group sprouted, but many other did not, so I left it there another day. The next day, the seeds that had emerged were like 3 to 4 in. tall. I did not like the leggy looks of them, so I put them under the light.

So...the rest of the seeds that germinated under the light are staying stocky, while the other ones are really leggy and laying almost parallel with the dirt, but with the leaves facing upwards.

I decided to take them and bury them deeper in the cells that they are already growing in. I did not bury them up to their leaves, but I did bury them so that they are now the same height (1 in.) as all my other plants.

I did not think that they would make it since they are really young; in fact, the true leaves are almost nonexistent. So far, after one day, they all seem to be doing good. It will be a few days, though, before I can say definitely that they have taken, but things look good so far.

Next time, I will germinate them directly under the light. In my opinion, the dirt covering them gives all the darkness they need.

Good luck with your plants! :D
I feel much better now. Sounds like exactly the same problem. I'll re-plant tomorrow.

Also noted that as soon as they emerge to get them under the lights.

I may have the same problem coming with my cilantro as 5 emerged and then I waited 2 days for the other 3. The first 5 are over 3 inches tall.
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applestar
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I usually get ready to move them to the premier spot (directly under the center of the tubes) under the lights as soon as I see the VERY FIRST little loop of the hypocotyle (the little stem pushing up out of the soil BEFORE the cotyldon comes out) of the VERY FIRST seedling in the community container/flat. If I see it at bed check, they get moved under the lights first thing in the morning, if I see it in the morning, by lunch time at the latest.

If I planted the community flat correctly, then they're all same variety seeds of same species and will all germinate within the next couple of days. That's not to say that I haven't optimistically mixed planted -- say begonias and salvias together in a 72-cell flat! :roll: :oops: NEVER AGAIN! :x

Once under the lights, the late-arrivals get a little extra warmth while the lights are on. I've also become fond of those clamp-on utility lights with 100W equivalent CFL bulbs for emergency spots. I have tomato seedlings managing to straighten without undue stretching under two of them (clamped on the back of a handy piano chair) right now while I'm getting the expansion and moderate extra heat (50~60ºF) to the Grow Light Area ready so I can move out the Salvias (Never growing begonias from seed again! On the flip side, never buying Salvia bedding plants again -- they're SUPER easy to start from seed.) I can also then uppot the June Tomato Race candidates with their little true leaves and move them out to the garage, and the new seedling tomatoes can take over the full std size flat area plus a little bit more (which I'll need soon when the eggplants germinate). It's about this point in the seed starting operation when that old song "DO THE SHUFFLE!" starts repeating in my head, often alternating with some childhood memory of playing musical chairs.... :lol:

Hmm. Writing this post just gave me an idea -- I'll move the tomatoes up NOW, and put the Salvias under the clamp-on CFL's. Gotta go! :idea:

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Halfway
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jal_ut wrote:Emerging seedlings need bright light as soon as they break ground. If they don't have it, they immediately stretch out trying to reach some light. The result is; they get leggy and too tall for the strength of the stem so they can fall over easily.

You can repot them a little deeper and give them better light and they will do fine.

If you have leggy tomatoes at time to plant them out, you can bury several inches of the stem. The stems will send out roots.
Thank you!
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garden5
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UPDATE:

The plants that were "re-potted" are, after 3 days, doing fine, so I think that they have taken. I re-potted the rest of my leggy ones (about 20 or so) yesterday, and today they look fine. So, I guess we can call this an acceptable treatments for leggy seedlings :D.
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toxicburn1
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Congrats!!! :)
lets see how will it turn out:)

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jal_ut
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The real problem with leggy seedlings is when you take them out to harden off, they are not used to bright light and when they get some full sunshine it actually damages the leaves, and all the leaves will yellow and may eventually die. This does not kill the plant as a rule as the plant will send out new dark green leaves on the terminal bud and continue to grow, but the plant has taken a terrific setback.

Given good light from germination, the plants will be robust and have dark green colored leaves. These will take to hardening off a lot better, and usually not suffer any setback.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

garden5
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One think I did during my larger re-potting 2 days ago was cut the stems of the 3 more leggy seedlings to about 1 1/5 in. and planted them almost up to their cotyledons. They, too, seem to be doing fine. Although this really isn't the best thing to do, it may be an option if your plants have become really leggy and you don't want to replant or have no more seeds.
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Cheryl E
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Thanks for sharing this.

Now, I know.. I will be replanting mine tomorrow.

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