Propagation: Why are some seedlings "leggy"?

Ladysmith, BC(Zone 8a)

I have a bunch of annual seeds planted indoors under gro lights. I planted about 124 different types on March 22, and about half of them have germinated already!!

Why are some seedlings so lanky and leggy - Cosmos is one of the leggy ones? They are all getting the same amount of light and are the same distance from the lights than the others that are not leggy. They are all not more than 3 inches from the lights.

Is it the nature of the beast? Leggy Cosmos.

This message was edited Wednesday, Mar 28th 12:00 PM

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Leggy cosmos? Sounds reasonable to me! LOL I have the same problem myself at times and I have no idea why. That may be a question (among MANY) I'll have to ask when I cross over to the "other side". :)


Ladysmith, BC(Zone 8a)

OK Pete2, enlighten me about 'crossing over the other side'? Are you relocating to Canada? From Georgia?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

I think Pete2 means when she leaves this life. Only a gardener would have that question for the "big guy"!!!! Of course, I'm hoping I'll be there to hear his answer! Heeheehee....

Bodrum, Turkey(Zone 10a)

lol you guys...I too would like to know the answer to that one...

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

LOL, go_vols! That's exactly the "other side" I was talking about! :)


Palmyra, VA(Zone 7a)

Don't know, but am getting some like that even when they were germinated outside! I have seen some from nurseries that are just short and bushy, and does not appeared that they pinched the tips either.

Richfield Springs, NY(Zone 4a)

I know one of my friends that has a greenhouse business, uses a growth inhibitor on some of her plants. I'll have to ask her about this.

Ladysmith, BC(Zone 8a)

Pete2 Hope the cross over is not for a long, long time!

Growth inhibitor - OH God now I may have to clone my seedling?

All you leggy ones are OUT, all you nice compacted one are to report to me tomorrow at 7 am! (Daylight saving)

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Me too!!! :)


Beaumont, TX

Leggy means not enough light.

Ladysmith, BC(Zone 8a)

MrTexas, But all the seeds were getting the same amount of light, from Gro-Lights. Some were lovely and compact and next door were spindly and leggy.

Not to worry, the greenhouse is now finished and have put them all out in the greenhouse, NO Gro-Lights and they are loving it.

I transplanted a lot of the seeds into lager containers before putting them in the greenhouse, some of the 'leggy' ones I buried up to their necks (almost), did not seem to harm them, but they become 'leggy' again, so now I am giving up!! Dill one of the worst!! Guess it is eager to get growing tall and lanky.

Singapore, Singapore

I have the same problem with dill and cosmos too. They were sowed outdoors, but they are getting only 4 hours of direct sunlight at best. Most probably the sunlight exposure had not been strong or long enough.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Different plants have different light requirements. Some like full sunlight, which is typically about 5000 foot-candles. I'm betting your Gro-Lights are delivering considerably less than 1000 foot candles to your seedlings, and that are some are happy with that and some aren't.

Burlington, MA

leggy cosmos -- I grow a lot of cosmos. When you first start the seeds soak them for 24 hours. When they sprout run a fan for a few hours to make them short and stocky. The tall leggy sprouts will fall over and break when placed outside. they shoot up about 3 inches in two days without a fan. With a fan they grow about one inch tall and have smaller wind-resistant leaves which can handle the outside better.

Once cosmos gets bigger, say a foot tall stop fertilizing it. Fertilizer makes cosmos leggy, lanky ,spread out and fertilizer like miracleG tends to produce leaves and not flowers. When the flowers die down clip them off (every other day or so) to keep the plants performing until frost. If you grow yellow cosmos you get forsythia-like performance 'till summer's end.

-- Chris

Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

In my experience with germinating, leggy seedlings are the result of too much warmth after the seeds have sprouted. I had good results when I moved the sprouts to a cooler place or reduced the ambient heat. --A

Chino Valley, AZ

Hi everyone! I've been given the green thumb from my family and i enjoy every minute of it. I plant Zinnia seeds and there coming out awesome. It took 7 days for them to sprout. I also seeded Cosmos and. there doing fantastic. They also took 7 days to sprout. I never seeded Sweet Peas before but this year i did and OMG the fragrance i got off of them i just wanna jump in them and lay there!! My Four O' Clock seeds are kinda taking there time. Its been 8 days since i planted and no germination started. But everything else has gone crazy! So what should i do with Four O' Clocks?

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Cool! Great! Thanks for sharing the joy!

>> My Four O' Clock seeds are kinda taking there time.

I don't know if those are usually slow or have special needs. Some plants might want bigger pots or more light sooner than other plants. If it is getting root-bound: bigger pot soon!

But if they are only slow, and not legggy or yellowing, that's not necessarily such a bad thing.

Be cautious and very dilute if you are thinking about fertilizing a young plant!

But some plants follow this plan:

sleep ...
creep ...

Calgary, Canada

The Four O'clocks will come along.
They seem to germinate by the one and two, over several weeks.
I had soaked the seeds for 2 days, and they began sprouting within the week.

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