It's Wednesday which means its time for the word of the week. A weekly look at my understanding of a horticulture term. This weeks word is leggy.


Leggy is a term given to seedlings which have grown long thin and spindly. These seedlings tend to look stretched and week. They will often be leaning over to 1 side normally towards a light source. A good looking seedling will stand straight and look strong.

The usual reason for leggy seedlings is lack of light, which causes the seedling to stretch itself toward a light source in order to get as much light as possible. High temperatures can also cause a seedling to have a rapid growth spurt which again leads to legginess.  Alternatively, lack of watering can also cause a seed to become leggy as the seedling is unable to obtain moisture and nutrients.

Tips to avoid leggy seedlings.

  • Avoid sowing seeds too early. Despite what seed packets say if the daylight hours are too short it's too early to sow. Patience can pay off.
  • Add extra lighting in the form of grow lights. This allows for extra daylight length.
  • Place reflective material behind the plant to reflect light from behind back onto the plant. A white piece of card is a simple solution for this.
  • Water frequently. I prefer to mist my seedlings daily and this provides enough moisture to grow good plants.
  • Adjust heat if possible. My propagators are not thermostat controlled but I tend to move my seedlings once germination has happened. I discussed my propagator set up in this episode.

Rescuing leggy seedlings.

Despite our best attempts, leggy seedlings happen but that isn't the end of them. They can be saved and still produce. We need to either add extra lighting and/or we transplant the seedlings burying the stem up 2 the seed leaf.

By adding the lights it should stop the seedling from continuing stretching to light and start to grow strong.

Burying the stem under the soil encourages more roots to grow from the stem. More roots mean stronger plants.

Even if this fails we can always sell more seeds or buy plug plants from a garden centre in order to get a crop.

How do you deal with leggy seedlings? Let me know in the comments.

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