The leaves on some of my seedlings have developed a brown edge. I
suspect that I may have used a fertilizer, either to strong or to
early. The all have there second set of true leaves, though barely
noticible. I used Vigoro Root Stimulator, full strength (2 capfuls per
gallon water) when I watered them about a week ago.
Can someone confirm my wrong doing and/or offer advice?
Seedlings: Basil and cilantro
Soil: Jiffy peat pots
Lighting: Flourescent, about 4 inches from seedlings.
Water Source: Tap
Water Age: 5 minutes (from tap to planter)
Otherwise, the seedlings look healthy, and are growing.
Lose the fertilizer or whatever that stuff is. Unless you have your own well
and don't add chlorine, age the tap water in an open container for at least
a couple of days, to allow chlorine to dissipate. If you have a water
softener, consider using bottled water for the plants, or collecting
I'm suggesting it mainly because you have to eliminate all possible causes,
and then add them back into the experiment again, one at a time. You may
have chlorine in your water, and/or you may have hard water. You may have
softened water (do you?) You can't isolate any of these problems if you add
And, for almost 30 years, I've been growing seedlings based on the advice I
gave you. For things like lettuce & spinach, which go outdoors quickly, I
use no fertilizer. For warmth-loving plants like tomatoes, peppers, etc.,
which spend another month indoors, I'll use a liquid fertilizer at about
1/10th the recommended dose. Remember that seeds contain their own food
supply (the cotyledon), so unless they're growing way too long in their
little pots, they're unlikely to drop dead. They may suffer a little, but if
you're observant, you'll notice and do something about it.
For house plants, I don't spend extra money for potting soil which contains
fertilizer. But, for the past 2 years, I've been using Miracle Gro potting
soil just for starting seeds, and the results seem to be better than using
regular soil. You might consider this.
And, there's a thing called "damping off disease", a fungus which kills tiny
seedlings. Usually, it rots the stems - they look as if they'd been pinched,
and the next day, the tops of the plants are dead. I don't know if it can
also affect the leaves. It occurs most often when there's a combination of
low temperatures (like some basements), no air circulation, and too much
moisture. If you suspect this problem:
- Set up a fan with a timer, not so close that it blows the plants over, but
enough to move a little air for a few hours a day.
- Water minimally, and don't let the peat pots sit in water. Once they're
saturated, dump the water that's drained out into the tray.
- Raise the temperature if possible.
Finally, is there any source of natural gas near where you're sprouting
seeds? Furnace? Stove? Even at levels you can't smell, it can be enough to
kill small seedlings.
Doug: I do have chlorine in my tap water. So I will use bottled or let
it sit before using. My water is not overly hard, but I do get some
crust of my shower heads.
This is not "damping off disease" I've seen that before but never had a
name for it till your post. The seedlings look healthy, they are
standing and have nice green color. They just have a brown edge to some
of the leaves. I did notice that one of my pepper seedlings has
rust-specs throughout it's leaves.
Also, at what point do I transplant these to real pots? They are in
those Jiffy Peat Pots now, I have seen 1 or 2 root tips out the bottom
on most of the seedlings. I'll never use those peat pots again, I think
No need for bottled water if your water's not hard. Just fill up a bucket
and let it sit for a day or two. As far as transplanting, it depends on
where you live, and when you're able to plant outdoors. However, if the
plants have their 2nd set of true leaves, and you're already seeing roots
coming out of the peat pots, it sounds like the pots were too small to start
with. For plants which need to remain indoors longer, I use the larger
6-packs, each cell of which holds almost a cup of soil. The 6-packs work
well because they're relatively slippery, so the root ball pops out easily.
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