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Starting Transplants

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Come to “Growing Plants in the Greenhouse” March 4, 11 and April 1,8 6:00 PM-8:00 PM with USU Extension Service Master Gardener Steve Petersen and Gretchen Campbell What a better place to grow some of your own plants from seed or cuttings than in our Garden Path Greenhouse. This course covers fertilizers, growing mixes, seed selection and transplanting, as well as insects, disease and other environmental problems. (4 weeks class meeting for 2 hours each week)

Register online at under education or call 801 768-7443 to register.

Last week we had talked starting transplants and the need to provide enough light. The question from one of our listeners is, AHow much light do I need to give my transplants and where should I grow them.@

Deciding where you want to grow the plants might be the most difficult decision. This might seem like a straightforward matter but make certain you have the best spot.

A sunny window might seem ideal, but check the temperature uniformity. Typically the windowsills will get very cold at night and then overheat during the day when the sun shines through the window. The light is highly directional so when the seedlings start to grow they must be turned frequently to keep them from bending toward the light.

Since good windowsills are hard to find, I prefer to germinate my seeds under artificial lights. A shop light suspended with adjusting chains is ideal. Add a timer to turn the lights on and off so you can extend the daylight and optimize plant growth.

The light tubes need to nearly touch the flats so that the newly germinating seeds will get enough light. If the lights are too far away or they are not on long enough, the seedling will stretch out and become unusable. Good lighting is essential if you want them to grow well and develop into strong husky transplants.

The human eye can easily read with 30-50 foot candles of light because our eyes open to let additional light in. That is not the case with plants. They must have plenty of light to grow and flourish.

The law of physics that explains the importance of placement of lights is that light fall off in inverse proportion to the square. What that means in simple terms is that if you double the distance you cut the light to one-fourth the amount.

To grow plants successfully, place the artificial fluorescent lights on chains so you can lower them so they are right over the top of the plants. Try to keep them an inch or two above the flat and then raise them as the need arises.

Spend a little time setting up a good growing area to produce your plants a little time will pay big dividends in quality plants that transplant well to the garden.

Most people need some sot of growing structure to be successful. Greenhouses, hotbeds cold frames and other devices will help extend the growing season. They can be simple and inexpensive or very elaborate.


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