7 Tips to Help Spindly Seedlings

My poor seedlings have not been doing well lately. They have been getting tall and weak and spindly under the grow lights downstairs for a few weeks now. I had been working off my best research and what the dude at Home Depot had told me, but when I noticed they were flopped over all pathetic-like with mold starting to grow, I got on the horn to my garden guru.

Tomato Seedlings

Vixen's bamboo skewer and twine tiny tomato seedling cages.

Vixen, as one dear Community Member is now answering to, has saved the day again. She talked me through what might be going wrong and sent me a photo of her little tomato seedlings with their adorable little handmade cages.

Now that I have some solid advice and real world experience, here are 7 tips I implemented to save my spindly seedlings.

  1. Build small cages to help support weak stems.
  2. Keep seedlings moist, but don’t over-water. That’s how mold grows.
  3. When watering from above, use a condiment (or hair color, in my case) squeeze bottle to stream water just where you need it without disturbing the seedlings.
  4. Keep a fan on low to make the seedlings work to reach the light. This encourages sturdy stems.
  5. A fan is also good for air circulation and preventing dampening off.
  6. Grow lights should be about 6 inches from the plants.
  7. Plants should get about 16 hours of light a day.

So it seems I did a lot of things wrong on this go around, but the plants may be salvageable. I didn’t plant all of the seeds on the first go around, but I got the rest of the indoor start plants going this past weekend.

Planting time is almost here! How are your seedlings coming along?


  1. Andrea says:

    I just remembered a weird thing about tomatoes. When you transplant them you’re supposed to bury them 50-75%. So that bottom set of 2 little leaves would be just above the ground when transplanted. Then they grow roots all along the stem that you buried. Crazy huh?

    • Natalie Webb says:

      That makes a lot of sense! Tyler mentioned something about burying the stems. Think I should try it with some of the other plants downstairs? I imagine it couldn’t hurt.