We previously discussed two simple tips to produce sturdy seedlings and eliminate the stretch. Proper scheduling and providing adequate light are two steps you can take. This time we will discuss two more simple steps to success. Today's tips will introduce a bit of jargon. Don't be intimidated by this. The scientific terminology describes some simple, easy to perform procedures. You will impress your friends next time you're hanging out at the seed rack.
Thigmomorphogenesis- Plants in Motion
For professional growers it is known that outdoor grown plants are sturdier than indoor crops. Plants grown close to the aisle in a greenhouse are stockier than those grown in the middle of the bench.. Plants grown spaced out on a bench are sturdier than pot-tight plants. The explanation for this is simple. If air currents are encouraged around plants, they will cause gentle movement of the plant. Thigmomorphogenesis is the phenomenon in which stems that are put in motion by touching or by breezes turn out thicker, stronger and sturdier. You can achieve this result by placing a fan, such that it provides a gentle breeze on your seedlings. Adequate spacing of seedlings will allow currents all around the plant. Even regular touching of the seedling will help. I once heard it advised that you should "tickle your tomatoes" as they develop. This is also a good reason to get your seedling outside just as soon as temperatures allow.
Remember that word and use it at your next socially - safe gathering...thigmomorphogenesis.
Encourage Lateral Dominance - Pinch Me
Most plants will naturally exhibit a tendency to "apical dominance" in their growth habit. Dominant growth occurs at the apex or tip of a stem. Long spaces between one set of leaves and the next give the plant a leggy or stretched look. With many plants this apical dominance can be interrupted by pinching off the top of the plant. This will then initiate a new tendency towards "lateral dominance" and new branches between the leaves of the original stem will emerge. Voila - a bushier plant. This technique is used in the greenhouse with commercial crops such as poinsettias. With your spring seedlings there are certain crops for which this is better than others. Lobelia and snapdragons are two good candidates.
Remember that you can always get the best in seeds and seeding supplies at Carleton Place Nursery. Good reliable advice is always in abundance there also.