Tomato seedlings not growing?

Coolbreeze89

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This is the first year I’ve started seeds indoors. My tomato seeds sprouted, grew two leaves...and stalled! They’re under grow lights 14 hours in a room ~70 degrees, in organic potting soil. I water when the soil starts to get dry, from below. I moved them up from a seed tray to a 3” peat pot a couple days ago, and they had lots of root growth (when I transplanted them, I buried most of the stem as they were a bit leggy, even with the lights just a couple inches up). They don’t seem to be growing though for the last 10 days or so? Any suggestions? Thanks!

fyi: my pepper seedlings are doing the same thing as the tomatoes. I have sugar snap peas in the same conditions that are doing great, as are my broccoli and cabbage seeds.
 

so lucky

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I have had tomatoes and especially peppers seem to stall, but they start growing again eventually. I started to caution you about being too eager anyway, since it is still February, but I see you are in central Texas, so you will be ready much sooner than I will, in SE Missouri.
Just in general, the first two leaves tomatoes and peppers get are not true leaves. Next time you might try leaving them in the sprouting trays till they grow their first set of true leaves. Tomato leaves look the same as on adult plants. This is what is suggested from people more experienced than I. Maybe they are a little less fragile then, or past some bench mark of development by then. Who knows.
Just keep lots of light on them, I bet they will be fine. As they grow a little more, putting a small fan on them will help their stems grow strong. You can rotate the trays so they don't grow to one side. My fan is on the same timer as the lights are. Everything goes off for 8 to 10 hours, then back on.
 

Coolbreeze89

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I have had tomatoes and especially peppers seem to stall, but they start growing again eventually. I started to caution you about being too eager anyway, since it is still February, but I see you are in central Texas, so you will be ready much sooner than I will, in SE Missouri.
Just in general, the first two leaves tomatoes and peppers get are not true leaves. Next time you might try leaving them in the sprouting trays till they grow their first set of true leaves. Tomato leaves look the same as on adult plants. This is what is suggested from people more experienced than I. Maybe they are a little less fragile then, or past some bench mark of development by then. Who knows.
Just keep lots of light on them, I bet they will be fine. As they grow a little more, putting a small fan on them will help their stems grow strong. You can rotate the trays so they don't grow to one side. My fan is on the same timer as the lights are. Everything goes off for 8 to 10 hours, then back on.
Thanks so much! I’ll add in a little fan. I do rotate my trays daily. I appreciate you sharing your experience.
 

flowerbug

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if you do add a little fan make sure they don't dry out as they will dry out faster than they have been so far. :)

i do not mind at all if the tomatoes get a bit scraggly leggy as we bury them so deep when planting that they will toughen up after they get planted out. in all of the years of planting tomatoes from starts (we have someone else grow them for us at their greenhouse) i don't think we've lost any at all using this method. i always pick the tallest ones at the greenhouse that look the best.

peppers on the other hand, yes, they will probably benefit from the small oscillating fan treatment. i would put it on a timer to make sure it comes on and off and doesn't just stay on all the time. we have also not lost many of these through the years of planting them out, including a few that i thought for sure were goners because some animal chewed through them. they eventually grew or resprouted. if this ever happens to you and you are short on space don't bother trying to recover the plant, it is actually better to just get another plant and put it in if you can. the time lost in regrowing will affect the crop coming along (especially if you have a shorter season). you can take the damaged plant and move it to a big pot to bring in towards fall if you would like to get something from it.


a few other things come to mind regarding tomatoes:

if you are only using peat pellets for starting the seeds they may just not be getting enough of the basic nutrients to the plant. after the first week add just a very very weak solution of a balanced fertilizer to the water when you water and see if that helps. some other plants with larger seeds get enough energy from the seeds that they do ok for a bit without much additional nutrients from the soil. so if they land in poor soil they will do ok at first and then just sit there.

also remember that the plant may be doing things with the root growth before doing much else. what you may think of as stalling is just laying the groundwork for what comes next.
 

Collector

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I think they will take off on their own with a little time. We have on a couple occasions when they seemed slow gave them miracle grow at 1/4 strength. They must have true leaves though before trying that. We usually don’t up pot before they are 3” tall with at least 4 leaves but that is just us not any type of rule lol. I think you will be fine though. What varieties of tomatoes and peppers are you growing this season?
 

YourRabbitGirl

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This is the first year I’ve started seeds indoors. My tomato seeds sprouted, grew two leaves...and stalled! They’re under grow lights 14 hours in a room ~70 degrees, in organic potting soil. I water when the soil starts to get dry, from below. I moved them up from a seed tray to a 3” peat pot a couple days ago, and they had lots of root growth (when I transplanted them, I buried most of the stem as they were a bit leggy, even with the lights just a couple inches up). They don’t seem to be growing though for the last 10 days or so? Any suggestions? Thanks!

fyi: my pepper seedlings are doing the same thing as the tomatoes. I have sugar snap peas in the same conditions that are doing great, as are my broccoli and cabbage seeds.
You should dry the seeds properly, that's the only way that you can make the seeds grow. that's what I usually do.. better do the seeding again.
 

Coolbreeze89

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I think they will take off on their own with a little time. We have on a couple occasions when they seemed slow gave them miracle grow at 1/4 strength. They must have true leaves though before trying that. We usually don’t up pot before they are 3” tall with at least 4 leaves but that is just us not any type of rule lol. I think you will be fine though. What varieties of tomatoes and peppers are you growing this season?
Thanks! I wondered about fertilizer, but they definitely don’t have true leaves yet. I’ll hold off.

I’m growing “garden salsa hybrid pepper seeds” and “mountain magic hybrid tomato seeds” from Park Seed company. Last year was my first time growing anything at all, so every day is a learning experience! I bought one tomato plant from HD last year and dealt with little bugs from day one...figured I’d try from seed this year! All new to peppers.
 

Coolbreeze89

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if you do add a little fan make sure they don't dry out as they will dry out faster than they have been so far. :)

i do not mind at all if the tomatoes get a bit scraggly leggy as we bury them so deep when planting that they will toughen up after they get planted out. in all of the years of planting tomatoes from starts (we have someone else grow them for us at their greenhouse) i don't think we've lost any at all using this method. i always pick the tallest ones at the greenhouse that look the best.

peppers on the other hand, yes, they will probably benefit from the small oscillating fan treatment. i would put it on a timer to make sure it comes on and off and doesn't just stay on all the time. we have also not lost many of these through the years of planting them out, including a few that i thought for sure were goners because some animal chewed through them. they eventually grew or resprouted. if this ever happens to you and you are short on space don't bother trying to recover the plant, it is actually better to just get another plant and put it in if you can. the time lost in regrowing will affect the crop coming along (especially if you have a shorter season). you can take the damaged plant and move it to a big pot to bring in towards fall if you would like to get something from it.


a few other things come to mind regarding tomatoes:

if you are only using peat pellets for starting the seeds they may just not be getting enough of the basic nutrients to the plant. after the first week add just a very very weak solution of a balanced fertilizer to the water when you water and see if that helps. some other plants with larger seeds get enough energy from the seeds that they do ok for a bit without much additional nutrients from the soil. so if they land in poor soil they will do ok at first and then just sit there.

also remember that the plant may be doing things with the root growth before doing much else. what you may think of as stalling is just laying the groundwork for what comes next.
i appreciate your info-filled response! I used potting soil,not the peat pellets (when I up-sized from the little plastic tray I filled a peat pot with new soil, with a depression in the center to move as much of the original dirt as I could with the plant (only one did a good bit of the root growth break off), then gently topped off with more fresh soil to reduce the legginess. I didn’t go all the way to the two leaves,though. Seeing all that root growth certainly supports your point that the plants were focusing on roots, not leaves.

As a nervous newbie, I‘m just impatient, I guess! ;)
 

Ridgerunner

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This is my old starter set-up. What I want to point out is the white paper hanging from the sides to reflect the light back to the plants. That made a lot of difference in how leggy they got. They grow to the light so if the light is coming from one direction they grow in that direction.

Starter Set-up.JPG


Expect your tomatoes to grow a lot faster than the peppers.
 
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