Weak stems on maturing plants.

by Rachel
(Totnes, Devon, UK)

Hallo there,
This question isn't, like it sounds, about 'leggy' seedlings, or damping off, or root-rot - the problem is affecting plants that are well past the seedling stage. I grew a lot of oregano and antirhinnim from seed, and despite pricking them out quite late, potted them on deeply into bigger containers, where they grew healthily and happily for a good few weeks.
All plants now have good height, lots of leaves (with new ones appearing all the time) ***BUT!!*** the stems of all these plants don't seem to have grown at all - leaving a healthy looking plant falling over on a tiny, thin and weak looking stem/root base. The stems don't seem to be rotting, or affected by any kind of fungus... they are just ridiculously spindly - there is no way that if they stay that size they will be able to support a fully grown plant!

All of the oregano and antirhinnim plants I have just been talking about were all grown from seed and were potted on into larger containers. The real bugger is that the very same problem has happened to my broccoli plants as well, which were grown from directly sown seed straight into the ground. It is even worse with the broccoli, as obviously what with outdoor conditions they are battered about a bit more, which has put more strain on the roots. Again though - healthy seedlings, turned into healthy bigger plants with plenty of true leaves - the leaves still look perfectly healthy.....but the entire plant is now collapsing as it literally looks as though it's trying to stand on a thread of root.

What on earth has caused it, and what on earth can I do to prevent it in future, or fix it now?!? Hundreds of plants....all that work and care....all looking absolutely fine....until this. So disheartening :( ANY comments, advice, thoughts etc very welcome!!

Many many thanks, Rachel, Devon, UK

Comments for Weak stems on maturing plants.

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Jul 09, 2012
Spindle Shanks NEW
by: Kiwi George

Hi Rachel, sad to hear about your plants but as all your plants have the same problem I suspect a major soil nutrient deficiency. My reference books tell me that a Potassium deficiency may lead to weak stems but I cannot confirm this from personal experience. Having studied Organic Horticulture I am a confirmed "look after the soil and all will be well" gardener so I use a lot of seaweed as a mulch as I live near a beach. I also use it buried in a trench and combined with Comfrey as a liquid fertiliser (I swear by Kelp & Comfrey) and the abundance of chemicals and trace elements in seaweed seem to do the job for me. Otherwise a soil test may show you if there is an imbalance in your soil nutrients. You do not say what type of soil you have, where you are situated or how old your garden is. I make the last point as 30 years ago I wondered why one new rose bed was not thriving until I dug down 60cm to find the builder had buried his interior wall board scraps (full of lime)there. New soil etc, voila, great roses. Hope this helps
Kiwi George

Jul 15, 2012
Spindly stems NEW
by: Annie Low

Have you tried using compost tea? I also use rock dust or azomite, it helps ammend he soil and thus the plants will thrive well. Your situation can be upsetting and I uope you can clear the problem up.

Jul 28, 2012
Weak stems on plants NEW
by: Mia

Did your seedlings get enought light to begin with. If your geminating seeds did not go straight into good light conditions or were too crowded, then they just keep growing long stems, so that there is too much of the stems before all the leaves grow, and opps they topple over.

If you grew your broccoli outdoors, maybe they didn't get good sun or were too crowded.

These are my thoughts, but if it's not light as the problem, then as others say it is too much nitrogen or not enough of some other mineral, like potassium or phosphorous. Adding compost each year should balance your soil, or get a soil test done as soon as you can.

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