Arrested development: Tomato seedling diagnostic help needed

Tomato seedlings

Tomato seedlings

Hmm.  This isn’t looking good.  I planted these tomato seedlings a little over two weeks ago. The seeds germinated pretty quickly for tomato seeds and started to grow. I kept the grow lights low so the plants wouldn’t get too leggy. For the last week or so, not much has happened.  A few of the seedlings are starting to develop secondary leaves, but most of them look completely unchanged, as they they sprouted and then just stopped developing.  Any idea what is going on?

Aside from being puzzled by my seedlings, I’m really looking forward to this weekend.  The sun is out and I’m sure I’ll spend some good time in the garden today.  I just have to figure out what to work on first. Happy Saturday.


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13 Responses to Arrested development: Tomato seedling diagnostic help needed

  1. Are your lights low enough to the seedlings? They should be an inch above and on 13-16 hours a day. What kind of tomatoes are they?

  2. Yes, the lights have been kept really low. So low, in fact, I think the lights have damaged the pepper seedling leaves a bit (they look a bit dark, like they’ve burnt a bit). The lights are on from 7:00 am to 10:00. The seedlings are mostly paste tomatoes, including Romas. Thanks for helping me think this through!

  3. Dan says:

    They look healthy to me. I find some times they lag a bit in the seed leaf stage. Maybe some dilute fertilized will help get them growing. I started an early tomato in Jan and it is really doing nothing. I think it needs more of my attention.

  4. kitsapFG says:

    Are these are on a heat mat? Where are they located?

    Tomato and pepper seedlings will stall out if they get periodically chilled – particularly if the soil get’s cold. Early starts require extra attention on the warmth front as well as the lighting. It sounds like you are doing an excellent job on the lighting – but I suspicion the seedlings may be getting cold (perhaps at night).

  5. They are on heat mats, but they might be plugged into the timer that goes off when the lights go off. I can check that out and plug in without the timer if that is the case. Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. I guess I’ve been lucky I’ve never done the heat mat. I have mine in a western facing window and it’s been a warm year. Last year they were in the kitchen (my first year) so that is good to know. KFG you rock.

  7. kitsapFG says:

    I would not worry about it too much – as Dan pointed out, the seedlings look healthy overall just slow to get growing. I should note too that certain varieties are slow out of the chute as well. Legend tomatoes are always really wimpy and slow starting and yet they catch up later and produce under conditions other tomatoes will not. So long as they are healthy and not showing signs of real problems, and assuming you rule out the heat mat issue – then I would just wait it out.

  8. jess s says:

    The soil’s not dry, is it? I know that photos can be deceiving but it looks a little dry to me.

  9. Hi Sandy,
    I had the same problem last year. It was actually related to the temperature as well as a nutrient deficiency I believe. When soil get’s too cool particularly with tom’s and peppers, Phosphorum get’s tied up in the soil. You may notice a purplish tinge to the leaves and vein areas too, that’s a sure sign. Try making sure they are kept in a warm place or are heated. You may also try a liquid fertilizer, like a diluted fish emulsion one, to bump the available nutrients up in the short term. Check this article for more info.

    Best of luck!!

  10. phosphorum??? What a dork, I meant phosphorus of course.

  11. Paul, I think you are right. Bummer.

  12. Pingback: The bees arrive, the tomato seedlings rally, and pink blueberries! « The 10 Year Challenge

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