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Hi there, I have been trying to grow many things for a while with absolutely no success and was hoping for somebody to help.
I have been trying to grow basil, poppys, thyme, parsley, you name it, BUT

my little seedligns emerge, grow a tiny bit and then fall over on their own weight. Why is this? I am absolutely baffled. They are in full light, watered regulalry, good compost the lot. 
Can sombody shed some light?


Oh dear, don't give up - let's see if we can come up with some helpful suggestions.

Are you sowing them too thickly?  That can make them shoot up too tall like the cress you buy from the shops.

You really need to sow seeds very sparingly indeed, so that each seedling has lots of space.

Also, they don't need much water at all - just need to be damp. 


What temperature are they? Are they on a window sill, what direction is the window facing etc?


And there is a thing called Damping off disease which is a fungus which attacks the base of seedlings if they are too crowded, and or too damp. Not sure what is available for it these days, but we used to use Cheshunt Compound.

And just to show it is not just beginners who have trouble. I have not managed to get seeds to even  germinate for the last 6 years now.


Oh Berghill, how sad! Are they at too cold a temperature do you think?



Never sow the whole packet at once.  Sowing right now when the weather is warm outside should get a good responce.  Do not overwater.  Try covering your seed tray with vermiculite and water from below.  you will see when to take the tray out of water whn the vermiculite changes colour which it does when it gets damp. Then cover unless the packet says not to with clingfilm or a propagator lid and take off s soon as you see seedlings appear.  No watering should be necessary till then and damping off fungi will not be able to get in.  I have been gardening for eighty years almost and have yet to see damping off disease except in pictures!


Have to say I too have never seen Damping off, only read about it.

Odd things seeds, my daughter and I stood side by side, taking Pulsatilla seeds out of a pot and sowing them. All hers geminated, not one of mine. I knew then it was time to give up on seeds.


forgot to say you have to give parsley a lot of time to germinate.  it can take eight weeks.


Gardening Grandma

If your seedlings are tall, it may just be time to pot them on. You can plant some of the stem as well as the root, so that the seedling is shorter. When it gets a bit taller again, with a few true leaves, it is often a good idea to pinch out the top pair of leaves between your nails, so that the plant grows bushier and shorter.


sounds like they are too cold. Dont give up!


Seed growing is frustrating and great when it goes right!  Sow a few seeds at a time, use plenty of something like vermiculite to open the compost, use seed compost - nothing with feed in it, keep the watering to the barest minimum, sow as few seeds as possible, give as much light as possible, don't overheat or chill - that's all !!!    So much depends on warmth and light, and indeed overcrowding.  Maybe try with bigger seeds to start with, easy to handle and separate - things like courgette, pumpkin, beetroot  and so on - or go outside when the soil warms up a bit and thrwo around some packets of annual seeds for virtually instant flowers n a few weeks!!  

Prick out as soon as the first true leaves appear, that may be over several days or even weeks, rather than wait for them all to get big enough.  This gives you staggered plants which gives you a good show for longer, or good crops if they are for eating purposes.


Accept that some things take alot longer than others, primulas are known to take up to 2 years to germinate, some annuals are through in 3 or 4 days, nature will do as she sees fit, but does need the right circumstances to do it.  Keep trying, it is so worth it when it does go right.  If it doesn't this eyar, there are always plug plants to buy ...................

I would try with things that are easier to handle.  Runner beans, pumpkin, beetroot, peas, courgettes, peppers all have seeds that are easy to plant.  Buy a cheap windowsill propogator (you can get them from asda for £3), and make sure you put seed/cutting compost into it (NOT growbag compost, that has added nutrients).  Sow the seed thinly, and pop in on a windowsill (peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, squash & pumpkin), for peas & beans I use the small square pots, fill them with seed compost, plant 1 seed per pot, water and bung them outside, somewhere sunny (not full sun) and out of the wind, keep them moist and forget - keep checking every week, they will germinate when ready (and you don't need to worry about hardening them off.  Worked a treat last year.

Some flower seeds are bigger than others - sweet peas are the only ones I can think of, offhand as I'm more of a grow it and eat it rather than a grow it and look at it kind of person.  I'm sure there will be those that like to grow flowers who can recommend others with seeds big enough to handle.

See if there is a horticultural /gardening club near you, and join it, they will be pleased to have new members join.  It may be that there's something basic you're missing, or you might be using seed that's been stored badly or is out of date, and won't germinate even if you're Alan Titchmarsh!

Get yourself down to somewhere like wilko's, and get some fresh seed, seed compost and a windowsill propogator, plus some cheap pots of different sizes for when your seedlings germinate and need 'potting on'.  That way you can be sure that the seeds are fresh, you are using the right 'mud' to plant them into, this will give you a better chance of succeeding and then you'll get the bug and have to join the rest of us......


Glad to see we had much the same ideas MMP,  I thought marigold seeds are reasonably easy to handle too, as are nigella?  Easier to sow thin anyway - unlike some things, lettuce and petunias for example!!  

Even with one of those magic seeders I find lettuces, carrots, leeks and antirrhinums (one of the only flowers I try to grow from seed) VERY difficult to sow thinly.  Even with my bionic eyes (both eyes done for cataracts @36)!  Found some fairly cheap vegetable tapes, at my local JTF so trying these this year, will let folks know how it goes and if they're worth paying a bit extra for.


Don't give up Dan,  it's an exceptionally slow year so things are lagging behind the usual progress at this time.  Just a word on watering it's easier to cover seedling with a lid, propagator or clingfilm as they don't need excessive water-just to stay dampish keep them in the warmth and check every couple of days.  when they are up expose to light and air and pot on as soon as u can handle them.  Good luck and happy planting the rewards are huge



Mixing the seed with fine silver sand, to sort of dilute it, seems to work for many people.  Pouring a tiny pinch into the palm of your hand, then with a slightly damp finger tip pick up a few tiny seeds and dot them around the tray - I do this and it does help - at least you get little islands of seedlings and can prick out the outer ones, which will be larger,  and leave the rest to grow on.   You may not sow quite as many hundreds of things that you only want 20 of in this way!

hollie hock

Keep going Dan, the small seeds can be quite fiddly as I find it very hard to sow thinly. Too damp a soil is another culprit of seedlings keeling over. When I sow seeds now,  I get my trays ready water  from the bottom, wait until you can see the water come through the compost at the top. Sow your seeds, cover with some fine compost and press down gently. I find that way the water is getting absorbed into the top layer. That's about all the water they get until they are bigger

Nasturtians are good seeds to try

Just a word from a fellow novice...

Last year was my 1st season gardening, and I really struggled with seed sowing especially early in the season. That being said, I persevered and with a LOT of trial and error (moving seed trays around, trying less or more water, uncovering and covering, direct sun, 1/2 shade etc) I started getting results!
I am now completely hooked, and bought myself a tiny greenhouse this year which is now absolutely packed! I love it.

Don't get me wrong, there were many fatalities, I managed to kill quite a lot (sheepish grin), but the survivors were my heros!

Easy flowers to get going, snap dragons and calendula, easy veg, courgette (which has been mentioned quite a bit here already) and broad beans.

My poppies remained a disaster, so let me know if you manage to get yours going!!!

Don't give up, and don't shun plug plants


Dan, please don't give up! I come from a serious gardening family; I have been gardening since pterodactyls flew over Hyde Park and I still can't grow peas But; I can grow other stuff, so I am happy with my pea-free garden. Once you understand the particular and sometimes peculiar needs of the seeds you are growing, you will get there. I have some seeds that I am almost too scared to plant; apparently I have to plant them as normal, then after 3 weeks I have to put them in the fridge, then take them out; if nothing happens, I put them back in the fridge again

Artjak, are you trying Lewisia?  If you crack it, can you let me know, I tried growing these last year to no avail. In and out of the fridge like they were doing the hokey cokey!