Have you ever heard the term ‘leggy plants’ and wondered what it means? A leggy plant is one that appears stretched out, has pale floppy stems and sparse growth. It doesn’t look healthy. A healthy plant will tend to have bushier growth with crisp, green leaves. Let’s consider why plants become leggy and how to prevent this when growing with your smart garden.
Why do plants become leggy?
When the source of light is too dim or too far from the plants, seedlings grow rapidly in height as they try to get closer to the light. The plants grow taller but this comes at the expense of girth and strength. This leads to pale, fragile, elongated stems. These plants cannot stand up well by themselves and become more prone to pests or diseases.
This is closely related to lighting conditions. Plants that are crowded together will be shading each other. As a result, they need to compete with each other for the light. They are also competing for water and nutrients which leads to poor growth.
Temperature too high
While warm temperatures can assist germination in a lot of plants, too much heat can cause a rapid growth spurt. In such cases, the stems will grow faster than the leaves. For edible greens, this may lead to bitterness and bolting. For herbs in particular, too much heat can promote flowering which also causes the flavour to become bitter.
Tips for preventing Click & Grow Plants from becoming leggy
Think twice before adding lamp extensions
When growing plants in the Smart Garden 9 and Smart Garden 9 Pro, you should only ever use 1 pair of extensions, right from the start. This is necessary for the lamp’s white and red light spectra to blend correctly. If you add a second pair of extensions at the start, the young plants will be too far from the light, leading to leggy growth and potentially poor harvest.
If you are growing in the Smart Garden 3, start without extensions. You only need to add extensions when the plants are 1 cm away from the lamp, to avoid them getting burned.
Consider how long you keep the smart garden lamp on
The Smart Garden 3 lamp and Smart Garden 9 lamp have inbuilt timers. When plugged in, they alternate between 16 hours of light and 8 hours of darkness. When setting up your smart garden, we recommend plugging it in first thing in the morning so the lamp is on during the day and off during the night when you sleep.
When growing with the Smart Garden 9 Pro, the lighting schedule is customisable. Still, we highly recommend that you schedule the lamp to be on between 12 to 18 hours during the daytime (bear in mind that salads and lettuces only need a maximum of 16 hours light). If the lamp is off for most of the day, your plants will grow leggy and weak.
Check the room temperature
As a general guideline, the recommended average room temperature for all Click & Grow plant pods is 22°C (72°F). For some plant pods in our collection, a specific temperature range can speed up germination and help to produce greater yields. You can find the ideal temperature range for a plant by clicking on its ‘plant care’ tab in our catalog or by using the Click & Grow mobile app. For more info, check out our blog post: ‘Does Room Temperature Matter When Growing Click & Grow Plants?’
Remember to thin plants where necessary
In some cases, multiple seeds will germinate within a single plant pod. Thinning means removing some of the tiny sprouts that are growing too close together, leaving you with one seedling to grow. Thinning is necessary for some plants (particularly fruiting plants) because it provides them with more space, light and nutrients to thrive.
The following Click & Grow plants should be thinned to one seedling per pod: mini tomatoes, chili peppers (all varieties, including purple, piri piri, yellow and red hot), red sweet peppers, yellow sweet peppers and cockscomb. You may allow up to two seedlings per pod for wild strawberries. Be sure to check the plant care info in our catalog and the timed tips on our app. If thinning is not mentioned for your plant, then it is not required. For more info on thinning, check out our blog post: Thinning your Click & Grow plants: why it’s important and how to do it.
Remember to prune your plants where necessary
Certain plants (particularly herbs) can benefit from pruning at particular stages of their life cycle. You can check whether your plant will need to be pruned by clicking on its ‘plant care’ tab in our catalog or by using the Click & Grow mobile app. Pruning can extend the lifespan of your plant and promote bushier growth, as opposed to thin, sparse growth. Herbs can vary in how they need to be pruned. The Click & Grow mobile app provides advice on when and how to prune, as well as instructional videos.
It’s important to harvest edible plants in time. Every plant pod has been given a ‘lasts up to’ date, which is visible on the app, package and on the plant’s product page. The ‘lasts up to’ date refers to the maximum amount of time your plant pod can usually live in a smart garden (beginning from the time it was planted). If it goes past that date, the plant may grow leggy and lose its flavor and texture.
By following these tips, you’re giving your plants a greater chance to grow healthy, luscious and strong. For further reading, check out our blog posts: