I'm starting quite a lot of seeds indoors - mostly annual Solanacae plants. I'm getting high germination rates. I have them on a table next to an east-facing sliding glass door. Most of the seedlings are leaning toward the glass door at a 60 to 45 degree angle with respect to horizontal. Does this pose any risk to the plants' long term success?
Other information: I'm in Raleigh, NC. The average last frost date is April 10 - 20. It was 87 degrees today. None of my seedlings have true leaves yet.
As an experiment - instead of thinning and throwing out seedlings I potted many of them. Those are sitting outside in a clear plastic bin with no lid. I also transplanted many seedlings to my beds. So if there's no frost I'll have a head start!
But as to my question I'd appreciate advice on how/whether I should modify the regime for the leaning seedlings.
+1 with John, they want light, easiest way to correct the lean is to turn the trays/pots 180 degrees so they are leaning away and they with promptly (for plants, read slowly in human terms) straighten up and start leaning back towards the window.
Better would be to make an outdoor insulated enclosure for them. I made my mother a box of 2x2 framing with plywood cladding and lined it walls and floor with 2" thick foam. Then made a lid for that I stapled clear plastic to. it keeps things warm overnight and if it's likely to be a Cold frosty night, a 25W seedling heat pad is more than enough to keep the chill off.
This way they will be outside with full access to the sun.
I use fluorescent plant lights I get at Wal-Mart. Just make sure you keep them1-2" above your starts as they grow. If not your have the same problem you are having now with the starts stretching for light. I've been using this method for years with great success. Here's some photos of starts I got growing for my summer garden.
Aluminum foil is no more than 55% reflective - if used, make sure that the dull side is the one that is used to reflect the light. When it becomes creased its reflectivity is even lower (around 35%.) It is also very dangerous to use because it creates hotspots easily, is electrically conductive, and is a fire hazard when it is in close contact with HID lighting. Attaching this to walls is a pain and usually using aluminum tape or glue is the best way. This should only be used as a last resort, and even then its usefulness is questionable.
A rubberized roofing paint with 90% reflection. Good for growboxes. Mildew resistant. Highly reflective.
Kool Seal White Elastomeric Roof Coating ~ $15.00 (1 Gallon)
Ultra high reflectivity
Forms a rubber-like blanket that expands and contracts
Adheres to almost any surface (very good on wood and metal)
Available @ Lowe's Home Improvement: Buy Kitchen Cabinets, Paint, Appliances & Flooring
I constructed this greenhouse from PVC pipe and 3.5mil plastic. The top is removable and the front opens like theater curtains. I put some test subjects inside on a cold overnight before going all in with my seedlings.
I found this table for free on the side of the road. It's pretty great for this purpose. With the greenhouse on my deck it's just a step from my home, and I can easily set the seed trays on the deck for some hours of full sun and wind exposure. Everything's working great so far and the plants have become more erect.
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