2 years of seedlings being stunted

Asked February 8, 2019, 2:02 PM EST

The last couple of years the pepper and tomato seedlings for the garden have got to the cotyledon stage or one real leaf and stunted with no growth but they don't die.They barely grow when transplanted outdoors.I'm using t-5 florescent lights, how close should they be.Can a blast of cold air from leaving the door open cause this?I have a large indoor garden in the winter and have been fighting fungus knats the last few years, do they damage seedlings? The root growth in 2"x2" cells looks white but like a spider web and after 2 months the soil in the cell mostly just falls off of what little roots that are there when transplanting.I use seed starters with a water reservoir and a capillary mat.I use tobacco. Can Mosaic Virus stunt seedlings but not kill them?
Thanks for your thoughts on this,

Natrona County Wyoming

1 Response


there are several questions, issues and potential solutions to your post.

There is a fungal disease called damping off that would cause the seedlings to fail, but it usually causes the stem of the new seedling to collapse right where it emerges from the soil and the stem falls over. I does not sound like this is the problem if you are planting them out after this stage. However, if you are having problems with fungus gnats I believe you do have some decay issues with the roots of your seedlings. These insects get started when plant watering fluctuates between too dry and too wet and the larvae of the flies feed on decaying root mass. This would explain why you have minimal roots when you transplant. It sounds like you need to have more consistent watering and that your water reservoir and the capillary mat are not keeping up with plant water usage indoors.

As far as your light fixtures and the spacing between them and the plants. You need to refer to your owners manual or instructions as there is no way for me to know the recommendations for any one manufacturers product.

If your plants are close enough to the door to feel the blasts of cold air you would probably have better results if you move your growing area away from the door or set up a barrier near the door to deflect the cold winds from directly hitting the seedlings of more heat loving plants.

If the "cell" is your 2 x 2 pots and their soil it is a problem for the soil and pot to all fall off of your seedlings. The roots should fill up the soil profile in any container and stabilize the plant in the growing medium with a need for expansion when it is time to transplant them. Root development seems to be the overall problem.

Tobacco mosaic virus can transmit from tobacco products to tomatoes and is a big problem with tomato growing tobacco users. An antibacterial hand cleaner will be important to minimize the transmittal of this disease to your crop after tobacco use.

Please feel free to contact us again with further questions or concerns,