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Seedling Leaves Won’t Open – Causes & Fixes

Sometimes it can be challenging to start seeds and grow them into healthy seedlings. Many different issues can arise in the process, but there’s typically an easy solution for each one. An issue that many gardeners experience is oddly behaved leaves. Sometimes seedling leaves won’t open. This can be a result of a few things. So you’re probably wondering, why won’t your seedling leaves open?

Causes of seedlings not opening are mostly related to receiving too much or too little sunlight, water, or nutrients. They may be growing in too cool of conditions. On a rarer occasion, your seedlings may have been harmed by bugs or insects. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent these issues and also to fix them. 

Below is a table of several possible causes of seedling leaves not opening, along with solutions and prevention techniques. Read through them and then enjoy some other common questions regarding this topic. Your seedling leaves will be opening in no time.

Why Are My Seedling Leaves Not Opening?

Refer to the causes section of the table shown above. Seedling leaves typically won’t open if their growth has been stunted in some way or another. A seedling leaf that won’t open is a good indicator that something is preventing your seedlings from getting any bigger or stronger.

A lack of a certain element or an excessive amount of it can cause stunted growth. Diseases, Insects, and pests can also stunt the growth of a seedling. 

Below are some common causes of seedling leaves not opening, along with some fixes.

A lack or over abundance of fertilizerPlant your seeds in the correct soil. Purchase a good seed starting mix at the store. It should have the correct amount of Nutrients that your seeds need to sprout and maintain their health. If you are using your own soil, then make sure to add only a small amount of compost or fertilizer to it before planting your seeds. 
Low Soil TemperaturesSeedlings must have a soil temperature of 65-70 degrees fahrenheit. If the temperature doesn’t remain in that range throughout the entire day and night, then place your seedlings indoors in a sunny window instead. 
Excessive LightSeedlings only need 14-16 hours of direct sunlight a day. You might need to bring your seedlings inside or into a shady spot if they are receiving more sunlight than that. They need time to rest and recover. 
OverwateringStick your finger into the soil to make sure it’s not soaked but only moist. If your soil is constantly soaked, it can rot the roots. If you have overwatered, hold off on watering your seedlings until the excess water is absorbed and dried out.
Spider mitesCreate a more hummus environment to kill off the spider mites. You can do this by placing your seedlings in a greenhouse or even putting something plastic, like a cut water bottle, over the top of them.
Not enough LightPlace your seedlings in a greenhouse or a very sunny spot outside. Better yet, a sunny spot in a window inside. They must receive at least 14-16 hours of direct sunlight a day. 
Disease or fungusRemove any obviously infected area from your seedling with sterilized clippers. You can even try sprinkling some cinnamon powder onto your seedling on the infected areas; it’s a natural antifungal treatment. 
PestsKeep your seedlings out of reach from pests by placing them high up or keeping them inside. If you experience a bug issue, then try to put some mesh or plastic wrap over the top of them to keep them out. 

Can Stunted Seedlings Recover?

Seedlings can recover when they are stunted by controllable forces such as over or under watering, a lack of fertilizer, too much or too little sunlight, and improper soil temperatures. When it comes to a growth stunt from an infection or an insect infestation, recovering is a lot lower.

By the time you discover that your seedlings have been infected by a disease or attacked by insects or critters, they are often too far gone. Diseases can infect the entire seedling, including the roots, and they most likely won’t survive.  

How Do You Know if Your Seedling Is Dying?

  1. The leaves are turning yellow or brown. They may also look faded and lose any sign of color at all.
  2. Right after sprouting, your seedling may completely tip over at the base.
  3. The stem of your seedling may grow very thinly. As it continues to die, it will eventually fall over and not be able to support itself.  
  4. You may discover that mold is growing in your seedling tray or containers. It will spread quickly and eventually completely kill your seedling.

Final Thoughts

There are several contributing factors to issues with seedlings. Specifically, when seedling leaves don’t open, their growth is restricted somehow. It could be something as simple as over or underwatering or that they aren’t receiving enough sunlight.

If you are struggling to get, your seedling leaves to open or look like they might be dying, refer to the causes and fixes list above. Use it as a checklist. Evaluate your seedling’s growing process and make sure you are fulfilling all of their needs.

If you determine a possible cause, do what you can to fix it and if that doesn’t work, then move on to another possible cause. Surely your seedling leaves will open after a little determination. 

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