After a bleak Winter we're all keen to sow our seeds as soon as possible- itching to get our hands dirty and kick start the season with a bang. However, starting your seeds early can cause leggy seedlings if you're not careful.
What does 'leggy' mean?
Leggy seedlings are ones that have long thing stems and therefore get a bit floppy.
What causes leggy seedlings?
Quite simply- a lack of light. When the seedlings don't have enough light they grow taller and taller to get to it. Plants will always grow towards the light, and because it's too far away it will accelerate growth to survive.
But seedlings only have so much energy and what they gain in height, they lose in width of the stem. This means the weight of the leaves can cause them to go floppy. this also means they're less strong against things like wind and rain.
How do I stop my seedlings going leggy?
Choose a sunny windowsill- often this is a south facing windowsill.
Sow seeds a little later in the season when the light levels are longer. Waiting a couple of weeks makes all the difference and will make stronger plants in the long run.
They've gone leggy already- is there anything I can do?
You can try to make seedlings that are too tall grow thicker by brushing your hands over them a few times a day or placing a fan to blow gently on them for a few hours every day. This tricks the plant into thinking that it is growing in a windy environment and releases chemicals in the plant to grow thicker stems to be better able to withstand the supposed windy environment. This should not replace providing more light, but can help prevent leggy seedlings in the first place.