Whats wrong with my plants?

Asked November 15, 2016, 7:10 PM EST

I have an indoor, verticall wall garden. Here in this garden i grow herbs. So far i have 3 herbs. Basil, lemon balm, and chocolate mint. I have a grow light (this grow light is not full spectrum) that i turn on of the nights, i turn this light on sometime/anytime in between 8 and 9:00 in the evening,, and i turn it off at 5:00 in the morning in the morning. On weekends, i turn the light on at about 2 or 3:00 in the morning, and i turn it off at about 11 or 12:00. My basil plant, the leaves are shriviling up, and dying. The stems are turning blackish/brown, and this blackish/brown rot is going up the stem. My lemon balm plant, the edge of the leaves are turning brown. Even the young leaves are turning brown and crispy. My chocolate mint plant. The leaves are grownig extreamly small, and hardly growing. Ive tried harvesting and pruning the leaves on all of these plants to promote growth. Nothing helped. Whats wrong with them? Am i not watering them correctly? If not, when do i water these plants. Do they need actual sun? (The reason i grow them insode is because i have no where to put these plants. Their pots wont go on my windows, or the portch.) Should i start over with fresh store bought dirt? (I got the dirt from my old outside garden) whats some things i can do and what am i doing wrong? What would you reccomend and suggest? The garden is a pallet. Where black pots are perfectly placed. I turn the grow light on the very top on every night. The one on the side i dont plan to use yet.

Boone County West Virginia

1 Response

Thanks for your question. I really can't see the plants very well (and wonder why they're turned on their sides), but you're describing two problems. One, the blackened stems and leaves, is a sign of overwatering and/or a fungus in the soil. The plants literally rot away. I can't see if you have the required drainholes in your pots. Two, the fact that your plants are stringy and the leaves are small means they're not getting enough light. A grow light that isn't full spectrum isn't really a grow light, since plants need the same spectrums they would get from the sun.

If you don't want to invest in a full spectrum grow light (which can get rather spendy) is to toss these plants (if you don't have a sunny window to put them in), and wait until spring.

Boone County USDA hardiness zone is 6a to 6b (average historical winter low temperatures from -6 to 0 degrees F.) Basil can't live over the winter outside where the temperature is at or near freezing, so is an annual plant outdoors there.

Lemon balm is a perennial plant if you are in zones 9 to 10 (20 - 40 degrees F average winter temperature) so it's too cold where you live to survive the winter. Chocolate mint can be a perennial in zones 3 to 11 (colder than yours), so you can grow it outside.

So, give up on the basil and lemon balm; try to plant the chocolate mint in a protected place outdoors (assuming your soil isn't already frozen), and keep it watered for a few weeks. It's harder to overwater outside, since the water drains away.

Good luck!