sunflower seedlings flopping over

Schenectady, NY

my sunflowers (helianthus annuus) germinated about 5 days ago. they were growing fine until today, when they started flopping over. help!

what could be the problem? i don't think it's damping off because the soil doesn't seem too wet. the cotyledons look kinda heavy for the stems though... is this normal for the seedlings to flop over? should i try to stake them? should i try to repot them? should i add more soil? any advice appreciated!

a close-up shot of the seedling can be found here:

Thumbnail by pokokpenyu
Weedville, PA(Zone 6a)

Hi there, I checked out your blog and you have a lot going on there. It looks great...especially since this is your first attempt at growing from seeds (did I read that correctly?)

I'm thinking your problem here is simply not enough light. If I read things right you also recently moved these seedlings from a more sunnier position. I believe they are getting leggy due to reaching for light and therefore falling over. Kitty probably didn't help anything either, lol.

Most times when starting seeds they will either be started outdoors and left there, or they will be started indoors under lights. If under lights the lights will be kept about 2-3 inches above the plants and continually moved up to keep that spacing. Fancy, expensive "grow" lights are not needed. Fluorescent shop lights are what most folks use, with regular bulbs, not full spectrum. Lights should be left on between 12-16 hours a day.

These may recover if you get some light on them right away, but I wouldn't hold my breath. A better bet, especially since they germinated so quickly for you, would be to start new seeds and leave them where you start them...indoors under lights or outside and keep covered if frost threatens.

Hope that helps. I'm sure someone else will be along with some other ideas and tips soon too. Be sure to come back and let us know how things progress!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Or when you transplant them, you can bury them deeper, there's been a lot of discussion on some of the other forums around here about burying seedlings almost to the first set of leaves when you transplant them, and people seem to have had good luck with that. I would get some more light on them though, that can keep the problem from getting any worse.

Schenectady, NY

thanks for the good advice! i actually started them indoors, then moved it to the balcony where they do get a fair bit of sunshine. but it has been raining almost daily, so they're probably not getting the 12-16 hours' worth.

i think part of the problem was also that they were outgrowing the pot. when i stopped freaking out over transplanting and tried it, the roots were filling up pretty much the whole bit inside the soil.

put it under a standard florescent light last night, and they look much better today! thanks thanks thanks again :)

blogged about the transplanting process with pictures here:

This message was edited Apr 26, 2007 12:43 AM

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