Help with Basil Seedlings
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Lesley Barnes
Posted on: March 17, 2000

I didn’t know how to contact anyone through your website. I have started some basil seeds in starter pods (those round things that when put in water expand to about 6 times their origional size). I have 2 seedlings in each and each seedling has two leaves on it. What do I so about replanting? They don’t seem to be doing anything right now and they are still in their "greenhouse" (a plastic croissant box). Should I replant them in containers yet?

Those two leaves you see are what botanists call the "cotelydons" and they will be replaced by subsequent sets of leaves that will take on more of the shape of the mature plant. Basil can be tranplanted at the cotelydon stage, but we recommend to wait until the seedlings have 2-3 sets of true leaves.

But because you sowed the seeds in the "Jiffy 7" peat pellets, you can wait longer before you transplant. You can let the seedlings reach 6 to 8 inches or even more before transplanting. As it is early (March) for basil, you will likely have to transplant to a larger pot – say, a 3 inch pot – to keep your plant happy until outdoor planting time in May. The only concern right now is whether or not to remove one of the seedlings from each peat pellet so the other can grow unimpeded. The other thing to watch for is lighting: your basil plants need a lot of light and you may have to supplement natural light through a window with artificial light from a grow-light. If your seedlings are "leaning" toward the light source, you can assume that they are not getting enough light.

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