Help needed with seedlings...

kristerhJanuary 25, 2014


I want to have the communitys help to find out what happened to my my seedlings after my first transplantation,

and also what to do and not do about it!

To me they look like very chocked , but dont know from what!

Thing is, from my point of view , they could be either ,overfertilized, overwatered, or overexposed to light , cause when i think about what i did , i exposed them to all of this at same time when i transplanted the ,

It all happened so quick ,almost unbelivable

Yesterday i transplanted them , they were nice green looking at their leaves , with a slightly purplish tint as they have had all there life, and from what i've read , could be like "sun tan"

and now some leaves are almost black and extremly knurled , and some leaves have dropped off

ok , what i did was, i planted them in prefertilized pot/flower soil, and added some bone meal, and then i watered them with my usual mix of a pretty weak diluted organic tomato/chili fertilizer.

yes , when i think of this it sounds so stupid, and of top of this i leaved my fairly powerful (100w actual draw blue red led) growlight on for 24h after that,

so thats it , if anyone could distinguish the problem it would be very good to know

But most important ,what should i do and not do now when plants are in this condition ?

I did a quick panic provision and removed all that new fertilized soil from pots and switched to a dry and lean (poor?) soil and also left the plants drying up a bit without pots

my main concerns for not doing any worse is how to approach to strong light and to water , if the main problem is fertilizer , then maybe they need water to not get even moore burnt, but if they were overwatered , then of course, water them only makes it worse

please help

This post was edited by kristerh on Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 8:41

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another pic,, here is when i removed the new soil , and let them dry up

and they are "habanero red" and "nagabon"

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 10:41PM
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strangely i would say, in this this pic they are seen together with other faster growing chili spiecies , that were exposed to the exact same procedure , and they are unaffected,

and to the right in picture there are younger seedlings that are showing a bit of same symptoms , with very dark leaves, and they are in their original "lean baby" soil , but have been given the organic tomato/chili fert, at a very low concentration.

however these are leaves looks healthy to the structure ,

the organic fert is rated NK 3-1

This post was edited by kristerh on Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 5:35

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 10:58PM
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Have been reading alot since yesterday , and this page did actually make me even more confused,

According to the author , i have'nt done anything wrong, but more or less exactly what he or she recomends, regarding fertilizing

Makes me think more that it is over watering or my growlight causing the problem

Still awaiting a experienced gardner to give me a diagnose
as this is my first plants i ever grow , and my own experience is about totaly absent

This post was edited by kristerh on Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 11:47

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:33AM
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It could possibly be lighting. Look up deficiencies and start brainstorming. What are the tempatures? and did you make that LED? Also If you leave your lights on 24/7, you are not giving them time to rest. They are like us, we need rest to be able to retain and use energy

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:02PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I agree. You've got nutrient issues, possibly compounded by the lighting.

Bone meal? That won't be helping any time soon. It needs months of composting before rendered available to the plant in an appreciable rate. It's added to in-ground transplants for the duration of the season, but not necessarily to help the seedlings during the transplant proper.

It's true that plants don't use much P....but why did you eliminate it entirely? Most plants use the macros in a 3:1:2 ratio. Alaska fish fertilizer is a decent organic, but it, too, requires microbial activity over at least a week's time for the nutrients to become available.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:55PM
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Hi and thanks for answer,

Temperatures are about 25 or 20* if lights on/off
soil temp are steady at 25* from underheating 24/7
air humidity varies widely from 25-38%
these values are monitored 24/7 so i check them now and then
yes i made the light

About the fert, I didnt intensionally leave P out , it was the local garden shop that recomended that specific organic tomato/chili fert ,

but my bonemeal is actually NP 7-9 , i've seen that the nutrition content in bone meal varies a lot depending on brand

however , if you say it takes months for the plant to gain the nutrition from bone meal it would not matter.

but could the pictures tell whats most likely from over watered or over fert,
or do leaves and roots appear the same in both cases?

i put up another close up on leaves

but most important , what shoul i do now,?

Should i keep lights off ?

plants are really dry right now as i dried them up and put new dry soil in pots.

should i continue keeping them dry until i notice any difference?

should i turn off heating and bring soil temp down to 20* ?

This post was edited by kristerh on Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 16:43

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 4:40PM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

I'd also say they were shocked by nutrients, possibly compounded by abnormal lighting.

I know that swapping out the dirt has helped me with nutrient issues in the past. Water sparingly but regularly and deeply. Wait at least a week or two to fertilize with an extremely weak and balanced fert solution. They may look worse for a while before they start looking better.

I would also install supplementary CFL / fluorescent light over them to balance out the light wavelengths. A bulb with a spectrum of 4000k or higher would be ideal (cool white, natural light, etc etc). Since it's just a supplementary light, you wouldn't need higher wattage, just spread the light evenly. It might be your camera but I'm not too keen on the coloring of those annuum leaves either btw.

Lowering the temps to 20c will compact their growth, not a bad thing if you have a long time to wait till planting season (May or June?)


This post was edited by sjetski on Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 20:08

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:02PM
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Hi steve

Sounds like you mean over fert when you say shocked by nutrients,,,while i got the assumption that the others guys believes lack of (some particular?) nutrients ?

anyway, in middle of night ( it's 03"00 in my zone) i got the idea to take plants out in from pots again as i quiet worried that they would die from dehydration, i got striked by a issue

when i transplanted them i was very careful not to pack the soil , so it would be light and fluffy, but as the soil i used was quiet dry , then i guess it swelled pretty much when i watered first time , and that fluffy soil became more like concrete,

so when i inspected all the plant in the tray and replanted i ended up with a big pile of excess soil on the table

i removed approx 30% of original volume and still soil was up to pot edge

so just a thought if this could have suffocated roots?

about cfl...I have besides the blue&red 12w of 6500K that was intended as "inspection" light evenly spread.

would that do the trick as complementary light if it is left on?

As for camera , it was tricky to get white balance right, and i had to use flash,

i throw up yet another a bit darker pic , and a close up on the roots,

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 9:39PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Stop the bottom heat.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:10PM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

If the soil turned hard then i'll bet it didn't help, not sure how much it contributed to their problem though. But a soil swap was the right thing to do imho.

I'd consider the 12w 6500K bulb a start, but i'd also look to triple / quadruple that since the 2014 season is still early, and you'll want some canopy penetration later on.

The plant in last pic has it's leaves turned up, that is a good sign under the circumstances. I'm guessing that most of your plants will survive, some may defoliate but give them a chance to rebound.

As for the annuums, their leaves seem yellowed, but that can be for a lot of reasons. Irregular watering is usually the culprit, or their roots can be starved of oxygen (packed soil). I'd hold off on their nutrition a little longer if they've been fed in the past week or two.


This post was edited by sjetski on Mon, Jan 27, 14 at 0:51

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 12:45AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

ok , what i did was, i planted them in prefertilized pot/flower soil, and added some bone meal, and then i watered them with my usual mix of a pretty weak diluted organic tomato/chili fertilizer. ...

It seems to me also the problem is mostly fertilizing issue. And I kind of suspect "P" deficiency. And as Josh and Steve mentioned. I think lighting is also has to do something with it. I personally cannot trust any lighting system other than tubular fluorescent that delivers UNIFORM amount of light. Any projection type a lighting is uncharted territory for me.

Another issue could be Calcium and Magnesium deficiency.

If I were the OPer I would used a complete water soluble fertilize with 3-1-2 ratio which also has Calcium and Magnesium in it.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 9:58AM
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---"when i watered first time , and that fluffy soil became more like concrete, "---
did you water deeply the first time?
I had issues in the past where the top of the soil got hard, and underneath was OK, but the bottom never got any water.
can you check in an open spot to the bottom and see how dry it is ?

also, you can use epsom salt as a foliar spray to help MG, and a foliar spray wont change the % in case thats not it.

if you think its too wet, and possible root rot, you can add a little hydrogen peroxide to the water

read up on it first, but ive used it on seedlings that were dying before with success

Here is a link that might be useful: hydrogen_peroxide_horticulture

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 10:55AM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

Being that it happened nearly instantly after fertilization, and the leaf veins turned black, i would be careful of adding any nutrients at this point (colored or squiggly leaf veins are a sign of overdose or toxicity). I would watch and wait just a tiny bit longer since they are in fresh dirt anyways. But i agree that their next nutrition should be a weak dose and balanced.

I've never used epsom salt at a time like this, it may help, but i would go weak on the dose though.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 4:07PM
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Great with all the inputs,
yes, i will start searching for a 3-1-2 fert immidiately

greenman ,,, I water both from beneat and top
cause i have noticed quiet often that my plant when sitting in a tray soaks up very different amounts of water , so then i water from top also , so that i could be dead shure that they all had their share ,so to answer your question they were not dry when all started to go to h**l
,they were evenly moist through the vertical axis

ill look up hydro per and epson salt

the first one i know , its part of rocket fuel right?

is that available both as powder and liquid ? , could you estimate % hydro per./ water?

but the other, epson , is it a brand , or a substance ?

as i live in sweden it's quiet often very hard to find equivalent stuff , to what you use in us

status right now for plants are dead dry when speaking of soil
, so i think i have to water really soon, dont know how much moist the crop itself could buffer

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 6:27PM
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Hydrogen peroxide is rocket fuel in it's purest form, but you want 3% -- it's most common uses include flushing wounds/cuts before bandaging and as a mouthwash/gargle. There's also one that's 20% that's used for dying hair. here in the U.S., it's available at any supermarket or drugstore. You can use the 3% undiluted.

Epsom salts is magnesium sulfate. It's most common uses is as bath salts and as a laxative. Comes in granular form and sometimes it's perfumed... you don't want that stuff. Just plain old epsom salts. Also available at supermarkets and drugstores.

As jean001 mentioned, bottom heat past germination is not a good thing from my experiences. The heat generated from fluorescent tubes is enough as long as the ambient temps aren't too low.

Also, I know what you're talking about when it comes to bottom watering. I would still not water from top. What I do is let them soak in an inch or so of water for about 20 minutes. Even if the top of the soil doesn't look moist, with a couple hours, the water "wicks" it's way up to the surface.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 2:50AM
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Hydrogen peroxide is usually at %3 in the stores, correct, but i would check the label to be sure.
ive used it many times safely at %3. its never hurt anything of mine, but i was recommending adding just a bit to normal watering. its known to kill bath pathogens.
If i suspect a fungus or bacteria i will use it at %3.
If i am just adding it to a normal watering, i add some to the water, bringing it down to about .5%

Often horticulturist use Epsom salts/ magnesium sulfate when plants are growing fast and may not be getting enough. its known to "green them up"
calcium works with Magnesium, but sometimes theres enough calcium in the soil, but Mg is lacking, or the plant isnt taking it up fast enough.
If you add too much of one mineral, it slows the ability of the plant to take up other mineral, making it look like a deficiency.
Thats why i like it as a foliar spray, it doesnt add to the soil, but the leaves can absorb it if they need it.
The sulfur in epsom salts can help the plant stay strong against disease as well.
"Soils with a pH above 7 and soils high in calcium and potassium also generally have low magnesium levels. Calcium and potassium compete with magnesium for uptake by plant roots, and magnesium often loses. Sometimes, a soil test will show adequate magnesium levels in soil, but a plant grown in that soil may still be deficient because of that competition. "

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Ok i ve ordered epson and ph testers,

I know from before we ha have high ph in our water (but the latest watering was from melted snow)

what you say about fast growing (pushed with elevated light intensity and duration ex. ) needs extra magnesium i guess it would concern my plants that are between 4-5w old
today i called the manufacturer of that org fer i've been using
to get the nute analyse , as the only numbers printed on bottle is N-K 3-1 ,

mg was 0,48 gram per liter

and it contained 5,1 g/L of P even though it's not printed at label ,,,weird?

gave plants water today, they are not better but not worse

when using hydro you soak/rinse the soil or water as usual?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 5:06PM
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I wouldn't concern myself with Ca and Mg right now, Those are nutes needed more when they're older and flowers/fruits are forming.

3-1-1 sounds fine for now. Overwatering will kill more plants than underwatering. Fluorescent shoplights work for everybody else in the world. Don't try to do do something different than what works so well for so many others.

If I feel something might be fungal, I either use a spray bottle with peroxide and just drench the TOP surface of the soil. Remember, water is not really an ally where seedlings are concerned. You want the seedlings to get just enough moisture to keep them going.

OR I take a chamomile tea bag, steep it. Take the bag out of that cup and steep again in another cup of boiling water. With the second cup of tea, I add it to a quart of tepid water. I then water my plants with that solution. TOP watering this time. With the 1st cup, I drink it. It might just calm my anxiety.


This post was edited by woohooman on Tue, Jan 28, 14 at 23:36

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 10:04PM
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Latest news is that i've now measured our water with litmus paper and it was between 8 and 9 at scale,

I thought it was miss reading first,so i did a couple of more measures ,with same result , and also from bottom of pots , where there was still some moist ,

but then i got a flashback of that we did a analyze from our well 2 years ago,

I found that analyze report , which confirmed , ph 8,5, from LAB test,

So, the question now... Is this the reason for the problems i've had ?

I've watered with melt snow since i started notice the problems
but , how long it could take to plant to get rid of the high ph,

Current status of my plants, is quiet stable, not worse, so i got hope that they will survive ,

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 4:27PM
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Not sure if that's what's causing your current problem, BUT...

I've got alkaline water also(8.1). It can be a problem. For now, while they're seedlings, if you can water with rain/snow water, that would be ideal. Just make sure you bring it up to room temp. If you can't use it, you may want to add a TB or 2 of white vinegar to a gallon of tap.

Research it a little -- find out how much vinegar it takes to bring 8.5 water down to something more neutral.

You can always try what many do when they see something quite troubling -- they take the seedling out the pot, knock loose all of the soil, then gently flush the root system in a pail of clean water. Then replant in a fresh, clean pot with fresh potting mix.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 1:58AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

With hi pH water, I would buy cheap bottled water (in Gal. container) and use that instead of your well water. It cost about a buck per gallon.

About Fertilizer :

I am using MG ALL PURPOSE liquid fert. it is the same 3-1-2 ratio (actually it is 12-4-8) . Plus it has Zinc, Iron and manganese .

I use almost 1/3 to 1/4 normal strength every time I water. My seedling are doing just fine. Some them that I have started in November have lots of pods and flowers.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 5:51AM
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Dont use tinfoil it does not reflect light evenly like reflective Mylar.
Minors also dont reflect light evenly. Your better off with flat white
Tin foil is classic for burning plants as it creates Hot Spots.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 10:22AM
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