Leggy seedlings

Asked September 1, 2020, 2:48 PM EDT

Hello! I hope you can help, please?

Can you tell me why my seedlings are so tall and leggy? They are being grown under lights (2 Gro-lux bulbs & 2 fluorescent) where I have African violets growing/blooming successfully. The back tray has zinnias and sunflowers and the other trays include herbs (sage, dill, chervil, chives, marjoram, nasturtiums). The sage, chives, and marjoram seem to be coming along fine but the others are leggy. The lights are about 11 inches above the tops of the trays and around 7 inches from the tops of the plants.

I wouldn’t otherwise be starting these so late in the season but my zinnias and sunflowers became leggy on my first try as well. Those plants were grown outside and eventually ended up in full sun! Again, tall, skinny and leggy. The first herbs seemed to be eaten by caterpillars. I caught a couple and doused them in a half inch of neem oil. I swear I saw them doing the backstroke - it didn’t seem to phase them. Maybe you can tell me the name of caterpillar who dined on them and how to organically get rid of them? I have sprinkled some bird seed in the pots to attract the birds and I haven’t seen any since but I still think there is something chewing on them at night. They are potted in raised large window boxes in mostly full sun on the deck railing so I don’t think slugs are getting to them.

Thanks for your help!
Karla Guidry Charlotte, NC (University area and close to the Cabarrus County line)

Mecklenburg County North Carolina

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