You know the sound that Homer Simpson makes when he's surprised? That quick, high-pitched "AAH!" that he lets out when shocked or scared? That's exactly the sound I made this morning when I checked my seedlings and found this.
Yup, that's my Eupatorium seedling, which apparently is determined to drive me absolutely crazy. Upon further investigation I found that he isn't wilting or dying, but rather flopping over from the weight of his own leaves. So I added a little more soil-less mix to prop him up. Here he is now, still precarious but better.
I keep going back and forth over what to do. Should I transplant him into a larger peat pot and hopefully avoid more of this flopping? Or is it too risky to move such a clearly delicate seedling? Why is this making me so crazy?
In general this has been a very interesting experiment with seedlings. A couple years ago I started some annual flowers from seed in March, and they sprouted beautifully and all was well and good until I moved them into the garden where they languished and didn't flower. I figured out two problems: 1) I didn't plant them in full sun locations, and 2) they were tiny when I planted them outside in the first place. Basically they didn't have a long enough growing season or enough sun to reach their full potential. Frustrated with myself, I gave up on starting seeds until this miserable winter when I figured even wimpy plants were better than endless barren darkness. So I started a bunch of seeds in mid-January. That seemed to solve the first problem, because these annuals and perennials alike are getting a long growing season. Look at how well these coleus are doing:
But I think I jumped the gun a little, because now my annuals are outgrowing their little pots (and the few well-lit locations inside my house), but it's still too early to transplant them outside. I am making a mental note to start annuals in February next year. The perennials, on the other hand, are probably benefiting from the extra time to grow and toughen up before I start acclimating them to the outdoors. I also chose shade-tolerant perennials (Agastache, Aquilegia, Eupatorium) to deal with that whole not-getting-full-sun-in-the-garden problem.
I have thoroughly enjoyed having a tray full of vibrant herb and flower seedlings brightening up this place for the last six weeks, despite the stress the LMS has given me. I only hope my efforts turn out better than last time! I will certainly keep agonizing over when and how to transplant this little guy. But as I watch the hail/sleet mix coming down outside, at least my seedlings offer the hope that one day I will again be able to garden in the actual ground outdoors. At this point, that seems like quite the pipe dream.
One last note: I know I'm just discussing flower and herb seedlings (and foliage plants, to be technical), and I will soon have a spiel about vegetable seeds. But to keep this from becoming a truly rambling post about seedlings of all sorts, I will focus my thoughts and get into that discussion in the near future. Anyone with tips on Eupatorium seeds, I again appeal for your help!