University of Maryland Extension

Stunted Growth - Vegetable Seedlings and Transplants

Back to Common Problems - Vegetables

- Environmental Stress

Drought, sustained winds, water-logged soil, poor quality transplants, temperature extremes, and cloddy or compacted soils high in clay can all cause the stunting of young seedlings or transplants. Providing optimum conditions for good growth at this early stage will help ensure healthy growth and good yields through the season. Follow these cultural recommendations:

  • Plant in well-drained soil high in organic matter.
  • Use high quality seed and transplants. Check transplants prior to purchase. Avoid plants with roots that are brown and growing around the bottom of the container.
  • Keep soil evenly moist and fertilize with a balanced soluble fertilizer after seedlings emerge or after transplanting.
  • Protect plants from wind and cold with floating row cover material, cold frame, or cloche (e.g. an empty 1 gallon plastic milk jug with the bottom removed).
  • Avoid damaging plant roots through cultivation, tilling or walking on the soil.

Plants grown under poor conditions will not produce adequate foliage or yields. In addition, low yields and poor eating quality can be expected if plant growth is checked significantly at any point in the life cycle- from seedling to fruit maturation.

Photo Gallery:

Stressed broccoli seedlings

Poor growth eggplant

Poor soil drainage

Zucchini planted too early in the season/
environmental damage


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