Re: [CH] Seed leaves / Debugging ;)

David Stanton (
Sat, 21 Mar 1998 09:24:14 -0500


Seed leaves will eventually die and fall off. However, if they are yellowing and dropping
when the seedlings have only one set of true leaves, you have a problem. The seed leaves
have two purposes: They store energy to get the seedling started, and they photosynthesize
to keep it going. With normal fertility, they will continue to stay green and
photosynthesize until they are shaded out by the growing plant. If they yellow and drop
early, the most likely cause is a lack of fertility. When a plant's leaves yellow from the
ground up, it indicates that they lack a specific element -- nitrogen -- that is one of
the three major components of fertilizer. Usually, unless you have been using a fertilizer
that is low in nitrogen, it is also likely that the plant needs the other two as well --
phosphorus and potassium. Look at a fertilizer label and you will see three numbers
prominently displayed, like 10-10-10. The first is nitrogen, then phosphorus and
potassium, otherwise known ad potash. The numbers are the ratio of each element in the
mix, so Miracle Gro, which is 15-30-15, has twice as much phosphorus as nitrogen.

If you are using a low-nitrogen fertilizer, switch to a more balanced one. If you are
already using a balanced fertilizer -- something like 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 -- you need to
use a little more of it. At four weeks, they should be farther along than they are, so my
guess is that you have either not fertilized or used too little. Don't use too much, or
the salts will burn the leaves. Even Miracle Gro is balanced enough at 15-30-15 that you
shouldn't see the seed leaves dropping now if you have used enough of it. I usually water
each time with a 1/4 - 1/2 tsp per gallon solution of Peters 20-20-20 or Miracle Gro
15-30-15. If, after a few waterings, you see brown tips on the leaves or a white crust
forming on the top of the soil, you need to flush well with plain water and use less

Sorry, I don't know what the bugs are. If you really don't care what they are, spray them
with a weak (follow directions on bottle) solution of Malathion. It will kill most bugs,
and it's probably the safest and most widely-used pesticide. As I said, though, follow
directions. No pesticide is 100% safe if you breathe, drink or get it on you. Also,
stronger is not better. I burned some seedlings once when I didn't measure.

I'm sure one of the organic gardeners on the list can tell you how to proceed without
chemicals, if you wish.

Good luck,

MidNite RamBler wrote:
> Hi to all,
> what is supposed to happen to seed leaves? I mean are they supposed to grow old
> and die or is their presence only temporary?
> More and more of my seedlings' seed leaves are turning yellow and fell to the
> ground making a terrible noise :)
> The seedlings only have one set of small true leaves that seem pretty healthy
> and green although the growing process seems to be awfully slow. It's been
> almost 4 weeks since germination. Is this normal?
> On another topic , I saw a couple of very small (maybe smaller than a pinhead)
> bugs on the soil surface. They were very light brown in color , almost white
> and their shape was a bit round with very short legs all around. Now that I
> think about it they looked like small pinheads with legs. Any ideas ?
> Should I buy a shotgun?
> Thanx
> Nikos