When a seed sprouts, the first set of leaves that unfold are called cotyledons. All the food that’s needed to sustain these first leaves is contained right inside the seed.
Once the second set of “true” leaves appear, you should begin foliage or drench feeding your seedlings with a balanced water soluble fertilizer solution. Mix the fertilizer at half the recommended rate and apply it twice a week. After two weeks, you can continue this seeding program with full strength once a week until transplanted into pots.
Ideally the fertilizer’s NPK will be the same or close to the same percentage and contain trace nutrients and minerals and other organic components such as humic acid. Bioblast is perfect for seedlings, it is specially formulated for to minimize stress and promote healthy root growth and mixes easily in water.
Knowing when not to feed the seedlings is as important as knowing when to feed them. Feeding fertilizer to stressed seedlings will make the condition worse.
When the seedlings are stressed, they will tell you. Here is how:
- The leaves of the seedlings are droopy – they need water.
- The seedlings are tall and leggy – they need light.
- The tips of some of the leaves are dry and brown – they are burned by too much light, sun or fertilizer.
- The seedlings are falling on the soil – they may be infected by mold.
You should first solve the problem and not start the fertilizer until the seedlings look normal.
Initial Transplanting to soil
After true leaves form the growing seedling needs a change in it’s care. As the seedling grows it will need more sunlight, warmth, moisture and nutrients. I believe the first three months of a seedlings life is the most important.
In 2016, I performed an experiment where I applied Excalibur granular fertilizer to a two month old group (Group “B”) of seedlings, I keep another group for control (Group “A”) without additional fertilizer, after 5 weeks I compared the groups. Group “B” had grew approximately 24% more in height and has substantially more roots. After 2 months, I added the same granular fertilizer to Group “A” and started treating both the same after that. The interesting fact is, after 10 months there was still a 24% difference between Group “A” and Group “B”. I will continue to track the grow of these groups over the next few year.
From 3 Months to Bloom
After approximately 3 months, it is important to start treating seedlings as young adults. For me this means, water as soon as needed, fertilize with micronutrients, organic mater, bio-stimulates, etc. that enhance the roots system and overall maturity of the plant. At the same time, I provide additional nutrients to the leave and tips to keep the plant healthy and pest free. The goal is to allow the plumeria to mature as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. It is important to understand the concept of “allow the plumeria to mature”. What I stress is to provide a balanced diet of nutrients, organic mater, bio-stimulates, moisture and heat without overdoing or under doing any one factor.
Right now I would say 99% plus of all plumeria seeds produced are pollination by nature. My overall goal is to grow seedling to bloom and establish a reliable seedpod parents to use with cross-pollination projects. I’m fortunate to have a company like Florida Colors Nursery with a real need to grow seedling for root stock and new plumeria for future sales. This provides a need for the 99% of our seedling that will not be outstanding enough to grow to a marketable size.