|Hormex, Seedlings, and Good Questions
A reader wants to know about using Hormex to ‘enhance the survivability’ of very young seedlings, and how to use Hormex to ‘protect my plants from heat and humidity.’ Keep sending your questions about propagation to me at Hormex.com or gardenmama.com, and read on for my answers.
Here’s the exact question: Can I use Hormex to enhance the survivability of seedlings (1st true leaves)?
The email came from a gardener who claims newbie status, but who is growing fast into a strong propagator. When a seed sprouts, the first leaves are called seed leaves and the second set to emerge are true leaves. This is the growth stage that the reader asked about, and the question is a good one since the babies are vulnerable to over- and under-watering as well as damping off pathogens. Yes, they are very young, but they have roots, too, that need all the help they can get to grow a healthy young plant. Add Hormex Liquid Concentrate to the water for brand new seedlings. Mix it at 1 teaspoon per quart of water. I prefer to water seedlings from the bottom whenever possible to avoid knocking the tender babies over.
Watering only from the bottom can result in very dry air around the leaves. Dry conditions can cause the leaves to transpire faster than they can replace the lost water. Seedlings stop growing or produce thin, pale leaves and soon they shrivel up and die. You can put the seed flats under a plastic or glass cloche to trap humidity around them. But few seedlings can tolerate a completely saturated environment and cloches must be ventilated. I have some with an adjustable vent cover on top that I open daily to let in fresh air and solid covers can be lifted or set askew on top of the flat to achieve the same air exchange.
I use Hormex in another way that works well for me to address the issue of low humidity. There is a bulb shaped device with a perforated head that can be used to spritz seedlings with a mist much gentler than the best hand pump sprayers. I add the same Hormex solution to the mist and use it to water seedlings from the top while they are very small without disturbing tender stems and leaves. The liquid Hormex solution will be absorbed quickly.
The second question for consideration came from the same person: The summers here have been brutal with temperatures (sic) reaching 90s. How can I use Hormex to protect my plants from the heat and humidity?
My answer to this one reveals my garden philosophy, an unrelenting pragmatic optimism. I live and garden where heat and humidity are the rule and days without them are a pleasant diversion, like sunny weeks in Seattle. Higher temperatures and humidity spur the growth of many plants if enough water is available to keep them hydrated. Since we know that healthier roots give any plant a better system to take up water and nutrients, they are the key to success in difficult situations. In my garden, every new plant, and any that are damaged like the okra in my garden that got dug up by a rude cat, gets drenched with a solution of Hormex Liquid Concentrate (1 T/1gal of water). I usually repeat it weekly for at least a month, even if I have to water more often than that. Lately I have been using it to coax a group of self-seeded Tabasco peppers by also spraying the leaves with the Hormex solution and have seen 2 sets of new leaves in a week. Of course, proper soil conditions for particular plants, mulch and deep watering also work to alleviate stress and promote healthy root growth. It is my experience that plant growing success is generally a combination of choices and strategies. For example, when I choose to grow plants that are less suited to the heat and humidity where I live, I grow them in pots for mobility. If conditions stress them, I move the pots and so change the conditions. As we have recently learned, the past year broke heat records and that trend is reflected in the latest USDA Hardiness Zone map. It may be that the heat and humidity are with you to stay!