If your broad bean seedlings have grown very leggy (very long and slender), then you may be wondering what you did wrong and if there is any way you can fix it.
Seedlings usually grow leggy because they are not getting enough light. As they are not getting enough, they grow tall and thin in an effort to reach for more light.
Growing seedlings indoors is one of the main reasons why you will end up with leggy growth. This is often caused by there not being enough light and also too much heat.
If your seedlings are on a windowsill, they may struggle to get enough light each day.
This can be further compounded by starting your seedlings earlier in the season when the days are naturally shorter, and there is less daylight.
The seedlings will search for light, growing upwards rather than out, leading to long, slim growth.
Seedlings can also grow leggy from being in too warmer conditions. This is particularly true of broad beans, which are a really cold-tolerant plant.
I like to think that the beans have things too good compared to what they would in the wild. Because of this, they go wild and pack on growth, growth that they can’t sustain once the conditions are no longer as good.
What can I do?
If you have leggy broad beans and are looking for a solution, then you could try a couple of things. The main thing is to try and get them more light.
You could move them outside, but this might not be a great idea if it is still really early in the year.
The thing to remember though is that broad beans are tough and you should get them outside as soon as possible. Usually from spring time onwards.
In this case, you could try using grow lights. They are LED lights that are affordable and not too expensive to run.
Below are the ones I use for my seed starting. I don’t know if they are the best, but they were cheap and worked well for me.
They also only use 40W on full power, so even running 24 hours a day is not expensive.
If conditions are a little warmer, then you could move them outside. But you don’t want to just go straight into the ground after the plants have started inside, though as this will probably just kill them.
The best way would be to move them to a cold frame or greenhouse to toughen up a bit before going outside.
If these options aren’t available to you, I would be thinking of sowing a new batch of broad beans and starting again rather than trying to grow these on.
One interesting thing you can do is try to grow these leggy broad beans as completely indoor plants for a really early spring crop. Sarah at Haxnicks did this, and she has a blog post all about it here.