When it comes to seed starting, there are many common mistakes that we have all made at one time or another. Avoiding these mistakes is crucial to getting your plants off to the best start possible.
1. Starting Too Early
A very common mistake, and one I still make every year!
As soon as the new year rolls around, I start getting the itch to start seeds. This is too early, but I have usually caved and started a few seeds by February.
You need to plan your seed starting and ensure you have somewhere you can move them when they are bigger plants.
If you start them too early, you end up with many huge plants in your house as it is still too cold to move them outdoors.
You also need to ensure you can keep potting them on to prevent them from outgrowing their pots and becoming rootbound. If your seedlings get rootbound, this will severely hold them back.
2. Starting On A Windowsill
I am not saying you can’t start seedlings on a windowsill, but it depends on the plant and the windowsill. The simple truth is that many windowsills aren’t suitable.
For most seedlings, a very sunny windowsill is needed to provide enough light. This means it must be relatively south facing and in the sun all day.
The time of year also affects how sunny a windowsill can be. If it is still early in the year, then even a south-facing windowsill will still have the issue of short, overcast days.
If you see your plants leaning towards the light, like in the photo above, this is a surefire sign that they aren’t getting enough light.
The best way around this is to use grow lights. These LED lights used to be expensive but can now be picked up for around £20. They provide all the light your plants need, and as they are LED, they don’t cost too much to run – even with current electricity prices.
Seedlings need water, but too much can cause a whole host of issues.
You want the soil around a seedling to be damp but not wet. Letting it dry out every now and again is no big issue as long as the plant doesn’t start to drop.
Yellowing leaves, stunted growth and drooping plants can all be signs of overwatering.
If your seedlings look a little unhealthy and you have been constantly watering them then maybe hold back, let the soil dry out a little and see if they perk up.
4. Not Providing The Right Environment
Different seeds need different conditions in order to thrive. Many people think seeds are seeds and start them off the same way, but this isn’t the case.
Some seeds like lots of heat and humidity in order to germinate, while others will only germinate when the temperatures or cold.
You need to look this up on a plant-by-plant basis and find out how they like to grow. Your seed packet should have all the info you need, but it not then the answer is only a google search away!
5. Too Much Heat!
Too much warmth from being indoors, coupled with insufficient light, causes leggy seedlings, as you can see above.
They are growing quickly but not strongly and can support their own weight, leading to them flopping over. If your plants are under lights but still growing like this, the conditions might be too warm for them.