Are you a beginner in growing herbs, flowers, and vegetables from seeds and struggling with leggy seedlings? If you have problems handling the extra lean and tall seedlings, then don’t worry as it is a common problem that almost everyone faces who is trying to grow plants from seeds. Let’s first know how to prevent leggy seedlings, then we will move to can you bury leggy seedlings deeper and the ways to fix and cope with leggy seedlings.
What is the reason for seedlings to become leggy?
If the seedling gets insufficient light, then it can make it leggy, thin, and tall, both giving it bright light or proximity. This commonly results from growing the seeds indoors or planting them outside in a very shady place. If you are growing seeds in a greenhouse and struggling with whether can you bury leggy seedlings deeper, then you should use grow lights to keep the seedlings happy and healthy. These seedlings not just grow tall, but also lean to one side towards the source of light, as it is desperately reaching out for sunlight.
Can you bury leggy seedlings deeper?
The simple answer is yes, you can plant leggy seedlings deep in the soil to help the plant compensate for its extra-long stem. But, don’t bury the weak, thin, tender, and young stems of leggy seedlings deeper into the soil right away as they can rot if buried in damp soil. You should wait for a few weeks for the stems to become strong and tough and then bury some part of the seedling stem either in a pot or outside. But for some plants, doing both is an option, such as for tomatoes. It is good to grow the tomato seed in a 4’’ seedling pot and then pot it into a larger 8’’ nursery pot after almost a month and bury the stem a couple of inches deep. Then it is good to bury the stem some deeper when transplanting it in a garden.
For which plants can you bury seedlings deeper?
This depends on the plant you are growing and the size of your seedlings. The aim is to bury the leggy seedling stem in the soil as deep as the plant doesn’t feel too heavy to grow.
Here are some tips on can you bury leggy seedlings deeper in the soil:
● Most kinds of plants grow well if you bury the leggy seedlings up to the first set of true leaves or the first set of lateral branches. The list of these kinds of plants includes peppers, and members of the brassica family, such as broccoli, kale, collard greens, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
If you are struggling with your bell peppers turning brown, then read Why are my bell peppers turning brown?
● If you are growing such a vegetable that forms a bulb or head right at the soil line, then you need to bury it as deep as that point, where the stem begins to form the main crop and branches out. This helps to support its weight on the soil surface. Examples of such vegetables are lettuce, cabbage, bok choy, and kohlrabi.
● Some seedlings have advantageous root systems and this makes them suitable to be buried even deeper. It is good to remove the lowest few branches and bury these seedlings up past that point, burying almost half of the plant in the ground. Examples of these seedlings are tomatoes and tomatillos, which grow new roots off of the portion of stem you bury. These roots grow more robust and healthier plants.
Note: You shouldn’t bury those seedlings deep in the soil that will still be growing tall branches well above the soil, such as herbs and flowers
● Some seedlings are much more prone to rotting, so you should avoid burying them deep in the soil. Plant them in well-drained soil that doesn’t accumulate much moisture and bury them minimally deep. These plants include cucumber, squash, and eggplant.
How to prevent your seedlings from becoming leggy?
Why struggle with the question of whether can you bury leggy seedlings deeper, and why not try to prevent leggy seedlings in the first place? Here are some tips to keep your seedlings bushy and strong:
● The most common reason for the seedling to become leggy is a lack of sunlight, even staying in the dark for a day or two can make a young seedling irreversibly leggy. Provide the seedlings with sufficient light just after germination.
● If you are growing seeds indoors, even closer to a sunny window, then there may not be enough natural light. So, use grow lights or supplemental light to prove as a source of light for the seedling.
● When you see the seeds sprouting, turn on the grow lights. If you can’t wait and catch this critical moment, then a few days after you sow the seeds, start keeping the grow lights on. Germination doesn’t usually require light, but sprouting does, so there should be light when the seed sprouts.
Note: You need to follow the steps accordingly.
● You may use covers over the seeds to help in germination. Remove them as soon as the seedling sprouts, to give it light if the cover isn’t transparent.
● Hanging a grow light too high can also make the seedling leggy. Hang it close to the plant, fluorescent ones can stay as close as a few inches, while the LEDs shouldn’t be kept that close as they can burn the plant. When the plant grows taller, it is good to raise the light higher.
● Ideally, the seedling should get 8 hours of darkness and 14 to 16 hours of bright light.
● If you are growing seeds outdoors, then choose a sunny location for the plant and grow the right type of plants at suitable growing times of the year. In winter, when there are fewer hours of daylight, the seedlings can grow leggy and tall if your garden space gets partial or full shade.
How to fix leggy seedlings
After knowing the answer to whether can you bury leggy seedlings deeper, it is good to find ways to correct or fix leggy seedlings. Remember that you cannot make a leggy seedling short again. But you can follow some steps to prevent it from becoming leggier. There are also some ways by which you can make the seedlings stronger and grow healthy plants out of them.
● Provide more light: Whenever you discover that your seedling is growing leggy and fragile, provide it with more light. You can use supplemental grow lights if the natural sunlight isn’t enough, upgrade to stronger lights, or make the glowing light closer to the seedling for better results.
● Lower the heating mats or turn them off: Using heating mats to grow seedlings indoors is a common practice. But if you see your seedling becoming leggy, then it is good to turn down the heating mat or turn it off. Warmth is good for accelerating seed germination, but it can also make the seedling grow faster and can encourage it to get even taller.
Now according to your seeds timing, you can follow:
● Start fresh: If your seedlings have grown for several weeks or months into the seed-starting season, then starting over isn’t a good option for you. But if you have a lot of seeds and you see the seedlings growing leggy just a few days after the seeds germinate, then you can start over. Rather than fussing over leggy seedlings for the other part of the season, it is good to give a fresh start to the seedlings.
● Strengthen the seedlings: Some weeks after sprouting, it is a good idea to have one seedling per cell or container, so it gets better nutrients, light, water, and space and has better air circulation. Trim out unwanted sprouts instead of pulling and plucking.
Frequently asked questions
Is it bad if I have leggy seedlings?
Leggy and lean growth of seedlings is not considered an ideal growing pattern. Instead of using its energy on developing strong, thick, and sturdy stems, the seedling rather becomes increasingly fragile, thin, weak, and tall. These seedlings are prone to damage because of being more vulnerable and flopping over and breaking. These types of seedlings also don’t have enough strength to face the wind and other elements and may sometimes damp off, a condition when the seedlings wilt suddenly, thin out, and rot just above the soil line. It is not easy to bury and grow leggy seedlings because burying them may rot the stems.
Can I bury leggy cabbage seedlings deeper?
For cabbage, yes is the answer to can you bury leggy seedlings deeper? Hold the cotyledons and make holes in the soil using your finger and put the seedling in the hole without damaging the cotyledons.
Some For Helpful Queries
How can I make my leggy seedlings strong?
A good tip to save the leggy seedlings is to brush your finger gently back and forth along the tops of the plants regularly. This makes the plant believe that there is an outdoor breeze and that it needs to grow thicker stems to survive the windy condition.
Is it better to have leggy seedlings rather than healthy ones?
If your seedlings start growing tall and spindly and look weak, then they are leggy seedlings. When a seedling grows taller, the stem becomes weaker and these seedlings may appear yellow or white rather than green and are usually very fragile.
How can I make my leggy seedlings bushier?
Now you know the answer to whether can you bury leggy seedlings deeper, it is important to know how to make leggy seedlings bushier. A good idea is to pinch off the growth tip of the seedling. This makes it confused about where it should use its energy. This makes it grow branches all around it and along the stem. It creates a bushier plant rather than the plant becoming more fragile and longer.
If your seedlings become a bit leggy, then don’t worry as it sometimes happens with expert gardeners who provide the seeds with ideal conditions. All hope is not lost as we told you in this article, while there are ways to prevent leggy seedlings, there are also ways to fix them and grow healthy plants from leggy seedlings. This is the thing we love about gardening, you learn new things at every step and you can utilize them for your plants. Now you know the answer to whether can you bury leggy seedlings deeper, you can pick your spade and grow healthy plants from the seedlings that are fragile and leggy.