Can You Really Recover A Leggy Seedling?

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Legginess is one of the most frequent problems that farmers and gardeners may run into when raising seedlings. Seedlings that are leggy have long, slender stems and few, tiny leaves. Lack of appropriate light can result in this condition since the seedling must stretch toward the light source in order to photosynthesize. In order for your seedlings to grow, we will cover the causes of legginess in this post as well as solutions.

If you are new to this blog my name is Ashley and I am a soil scientist. I am located in a Canadian Zone 3 and a USDA Zone 4. I write articles, make YouTube videos, Instagram & Facebook posts all designed for Canadians and Cold Climate gardeners using science-based methods. If you are looking for anything specific be sure to let me know in the comments down below.

What Causes Legginess?


Lack of light is one of the main reasons of legginess. For seedlings to develop into robust, healthy plants, they need a lot of light. When seedlings don’t get enough light to photosynthesize, they will reach for the closest source of light. As a result, the leaves shrink and spread more apart on the stem. You must make sure that your seedlings are receiving enough light in order to resolve this problem. This can be accomplished by moving them to a more sunny spot in your garden, using grow lights, or setting them on a sunny windowsill.


Heat is another factor that contributes to lethargy. The seedlings may transpire more water during hotter weather. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep the seedlings in an area with sufficient air flow and a cool climate. Maintaining a wet but not soggy soil is also important because this can potentially cause legginess.

To Much Nitrogen

Legginess may also be brought on by inadequate soil nourishment. For seedlings to develop effectively, a well-balanced mixture of nutrients is required. This consists of a combination of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. The seedling won’t be able to absorb enough of any of these nutrients from the soil for it to develop into a strong, healthy plant. You can resolve this problem by amending the soil with a balanced fertilizer or by adding compost to boost the nutrition of the soil.


Overcrowding is another factor that contributes to lethargy. Seedlings will compete for light, water, and nutrients if they are planted too close together. The seedlings may struggle to live as a result, becoming lanky and feeble. You must thin the seedlings so they have adequate room to grow if you want to solve this problem.

In conclusion, inadequate light, excessive temperatures, poor soil nutrition, and overcrowding are typical causes of legginess in seedlings. You may support the development of robust, healthy seedlings by addressing these problems. The Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science article “The Influence of Light Quality on the Growth and Development of Lettuce Seedlings,” the Journal of Plant Physiology article “The Effect of Temperature on Growth and Photosynthesis in Tomato Seedlings,” and the Journal of Horticultural Science article “The Impact of Overcrowding on the Growth and Development of Tomato Seedlings” are some references to scientific studies on this subject.