So you've got all your seeds, grow lights, and starter trays to start some new plants. You plant them, water them, put them under light and... nothing. It's all too common for beginners and pro's alike to lose seeds while trying to pop them. If you're sure you've done everything possible to get your seeds to grow and they're just not performing, here are 5 things to look out for:
Seen as white, fuzzy growths on top of your indoor plant soil, mold in the wild can be helpful to a plant. For indoor plants, however, mold can be a sign that there’s too much moisture in your growing environment. If your seedling's environment is too wet- whether it's at the root zone or in/on the grow medium (i.e. soil, coco coir, etc...)- and you don't have good ventilation that moisture will attract mold and help it spread. Moisture lock, as it’s referred to, can attract mold spores which can start to take over your small, sprouting plant. The solution: If caught early enough, you may be able to simply wash it off using a solution of water to rinse off the parts infected by mold. However, if it's spread across your medium before your plant sprouts or your sprouts are heavily infected, you may need to start all over again with new seeds and soil. Keep in mind that mold is in spore form, so be very careful not to let leaves touch and that you're not too aggressive with your spraying. Otherwise, those spores can spread to other parts of your plant and make an infection even worse. 2. Fungus
There are lots of forms of fungus out there, and when they turn on your plants they'll kill them slowly. Some fungus, like mushrooms, are nice coincidences that aren’t harmful to plants. But when it comes to seedlings, sprouts, and clones, fungi like fusarium are harmful to your plant. If your plant is beginning to sprout and begins to bend or turn brown, chances are you’ve got fungal growth. Fungal infections can be attributed to fungus in the soil. There could be something in your soil when you planted your seeds, or it can be from high humidity or over-watering. Solution: Unfortunately if you have a fungal growth right off the bat you'll likely need to get rid of the seed and the medium it's grown in (soil, starter cell, etc...), and start over again.
If you’ve got pests on your plants, your plants are going to suffer. Remember: bugs thrive off of young and growing plants, so it’s essential to notice them early and get rid of them even faster. Some growers use hydrogen peroxide to get rid of pests, while others look for more organic chemical combinations to kill pests like Neem Oil and water. Others will use predator bugs (like ladybugs and mantises) to climb into your garden and eat those mites. No matter which way you want to go, make sure your medium and your growing area is free of pests before and after you plant those seeds. As soon as pests can smell or see your newly grown seedlings you're in trouble, so eliminate them on site. Prevention
Prevention is all about paying attention to your plants. It’s always a good idea to check the underside of your leaves every day. And not just a majority of them- every single plant. Bugs are mobile, so don’t assume that they’ll just stay on one plant. If you see mites on any of your growing plants there's a chance they're on more than one, begin treatment right away. If you're growing outdoors or the pest situation is brought in by pets, you can also use a bit of their urine around your plants to ward off pests that might want to chomp down on your plants. Whether you're growing indoors or outside, cover crops are always a great way to not only help keep certain pests away, but they'll also help mine for nutrients to give a better harvest.
Seeds are strong little beings and will do anything they can to grow- but there’s only so much that seeds can do on their own. Taking in light from the sun or a grow light all starts by making sure the seeds you're using are buried 1/2" to 3/4" deep into the soil or starter cell. Seeds need to be planted deep enough to be covered by the soil or starter cell, but not too deep so the sun can’t hit it. When that happens the water in the soil overpowers the seed and either doesn't pop the seed, only partially pops the seed, or more often than not, it'll rot the seed entirely. 5. Quality and Care of seeds Seed Quality
At the end of the day when you're buying seeds- especially expensive seeds- you'll want to make sure that you get what you're paying for. Always be sure to purchase seeds from a trusted seed bank, a farmer/co-op you trust, or a retailer known for supplying good genetics. Too often will growers buy the cheapest seeds they want because it happens to be the strain they're interested, but that's often a bad choice. Think about it: You’ve got to wait about 4 weeks to see whether your plant is male or female, and if you went the cheap route it might take way too long to realize that you have the wrong sex/plant you wanted. Take that a step further, and let’s say you have the gendered seeds you want. Do you know when they came from the plant? A poor quality plant will produce poor quality seeds. Can you pinpoint how fresh they are? Because the older a seed is, the harder they are to start growing in to mature plants- and even then, you’ve still got to be careful. Always go with quality over savings when it comes to genetics. Care of Seeds
Just as important as the source of the seeds is the care given to those seeds. Note that plant seeds vary from species to species and should be cared for as such. For example, seeds from grain and tomatoes can be stored at room temperature, whereas cannabis seeds need to be stored in cooler, air-sealed spaces. You'll want to make sure that both your supplier and yourself keep your seeds in the environment that keeps them fresh for as long as you need. Keep them out of moist areas to avoid rot or causing them to try to pop too early, and keep them out of overheated areas to avoid them frying and drying out (this is in extreme cases of heat, but it's important to note).
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