Once a seed sprouts and begins to grow after germination, a little help is required for the seedling to grow into a full plant. Though not necessarily difficult, caring for seedlings requires your full attention and care when your goal is healthy and robust plants.
Watch out for threats
Damping off is a horticultural disease that kills or weakens seedlings after they germinate. This condition occurs from contaminated containers or soil, and is most common in wet, cool conditions. A fungal disease, damping off can cause your plants to wither. To prevent damping off, use sterilized soil and rinse containers to prevent contamination.
Food and water
While your seedlings crave water, take care in how much water you dole out. Seedlings boast tiny roots that can rot with too much water intake. However, too little water can result in them dying. Find a happy medium and water your seedlings when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch.
Proper timing is important when it comes to feeding your new seedlings. Provide your seedlings with supplemental food after the cotyledon has fully emerged and your seedling has several sets of true leaves. Feeding your seedlings prior to this point may result in burnt roots.
Temperature and acclimation
Growth occurs best between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Stunted root growth could happen if you keep seedlings above 100 degrees or below 70 degrees. A good practice is to keep your seedlings in a spot that receives a good amount of sunlight during the day. At night, move the plants into a location where they will not become too cold.
Before moving your seedlings to your garden, gradually introduce them to the new conditions, such as wind, temperatures, and light, by keeping them outside for longer amounts of time. This process is called hardening off and it helps your seedlings transition into true outdoor plants.
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