Leggy Seedlings

Preventing Leggy Seedlings.

The Lettuce Ladder has everything you need to get growing hydroponically, however, sometimes if you are starting from seed, you may have leggy seedlings. Here are some tips to reduce or prevent your new plants from flopping over.

Seed starting is always an exciting time for gardeners. It’s magical to place a tiny seed into a grow plug, water it, and within a few days watch a small seedling emerge. A few more days pass and that seedling is stretching upwards, we  soon notice they are getting too tall and becoming a bit floppy. This is known as ‘legginess’ and I believe we have all experienced it at least once while trying to grow from seed. Our beautiful seedling is now flopped all the way over,  it’s green top now lays on top of the grow plug. If you are wondering what causes leggy seedlings and, more importantly, how to prevent this, read on…


So what causes this ‘legginess’?  Leggy seedlings

At the most basic level, leggy seedlings are caused by a lack of light. It could be that the window you are growing your seedlings near does not provide enough light or it could be that the lights you are using as grow lights are not close enough to your seedlings. This happens due to the plants natural process and reaction to light. The plant grows towards the light and since the light may be too far away, the plant tries to accelerate its height to get closer to the light source. The plant has only a limited amount of growth it can push and what the plant gains in height, it sacrifices in width or girth of the main stem. As a result you get long, flimsy seedlings. Leggy seedlings will not support themselves or the fruit you are trying to grow.

Let there be Light! As you might have deduced by now the best way to prevent leggy seedlings is to make sure they are getting enough light.

As we have mentioned in the Lettuce Ladder Hydroponic System website, try to position plants in a south facing window. This will give you the best light from the sun. If a south-facing window is not available, you may want to consider supplementing the available light the seedlings are getting from the window with a florescent grow bulb and place it within a few inches of the seedlings.

This is a T5, 4 foot light fixture     T5 Light Fixture

Many gardeners put their lights on adjustable chains or strings so that the lights can be moved upwards as the seedling gets taller. This is the case with growing horizontally.  However, with the Lettuce Ladder, it’s a little easier. Our system is 4 feet in vertical height and placing a 4 foot vertical fluorescent tube light (T5) next to the system, will create the correct amount of light for each of your four plants. If you have 2 of our Lettuce Ladder systems, you can put the fluorescent light in the middle so all eight plants have light evenly distributed. Then, when the plants encroach on the light and they’re getting too close, just move the system away from the light.

Finally, you can somewhat force leggy seedlings that are getting too tall to grow thicker by placing a small oscillating fan to blow on the plants for a few hours each day.   Small fan

Doing this tricks the plant into thinking that it is growing in a breezy environment and it will release chemicals in the plant to grow thicker stems to withstand the “windy’ environment you created. The Lettuce Ladder gives you the opportunity to be in complete control of a plants growth and development.


Questions? Send us an email.  Thanks for reading.


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