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Protecting Seedlings

Young tender plants often need support and protection from the wind, as well as, browsing animals and birds. This guide is about protecting seedlings.

Plastic bottles covering plants in garden.
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May 4, 2010 Flag
6 found this helpful

I just planted my garden for this year. I had started the plants indoors, and we live in the Panhandle of Texas where we get LOTS of wind. I planted these small delicate plants on a very nice day. Then, of course, this morning the wind started blowing. I'm concerned the small plants will be blown to death, and I'll be out there with nothing left in my garden.

So, I got some 2 liter bottles that I had in my recycling bin. I also had some water bottles saved for recycling too. I cut the bottom and the top off and slid them down over my small delicate plants to protect them from the wind. They will still receive the light and I can still water them. This is working great for these plants.

By Nana from Panhandle of Texas


April 18, 2011 Flag
5 found this helpful

Another use for toilet paper rolls. If you start plants that produce fragile seedlings (like sweet peas) that don't like transplanting, plant them vertically encased in a toilet paper roll. When it's time to transplant, remove the roll and seedling from your medium intact and transplant the whole thing. The roll protects the plant during the transport and after relocating. Then the roll just biodegrades into your soil.

Source: Garden Club info on winter seeding.

By Jeannie from Vancouver BC

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February 22, 2011 Flag
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WeedingIt's a universal experience among gardeners, especially in the spring-yanking out a weed only to find out later it was really a "wanted". Weeds will do whatever it takes to survive, even disguising themselves as other plants. Here are some helpful tips for telling your your seedlings apart from your weedlings.


Identify Weeds Before You Seed

Weeds are pioneers and they usually grow faster than wanted seedlings. Most are up and growing in the spring long before your wanted seeds are planted in the garden. Prepare garden beds several weeks before planting. Dormant weed seeds will germinate in the disturbed soil and produce flushes of weed seedlings that can be removed before planting your garden seeds. Take note of what the weedlings look like as you remove them from the soil. You may also find it helpful to take a camera with you and keep digital files of weedlings on your computer for easier identification later on.

Sow in Straight Lines

Make it easy to identify weeds by sowing your seeds in straight lines or rows rather than broadcast sowing them. Once germinated, your seedlings (which will all look similar) will easily outnumber the weedlings. Anything growing outside of the line can be considered fair game when it's time to weed.

Plant Pots of Seedlings

This works well if you're growing a plant for the first time and you've never laid eyes on the seedlings. Set aside 1/2 dozen of the seeds your sowing outdoors, and plant them in a pot near a sunny windowsill. Your crop of weed-free seedlings will make it easy to tell the weeds from the "wanteds" once they pop up in the garden. At most, you'll be out a few seeds. At best, you may end up with 1/2 dozen additional transplants for your garden.

The Scientific Approach: Monocots vs. Dicots

Plants are either monocotyledons (monocots) or dicotyledons (dicots). Seedlings from monocots have one seed leaf, and include the grasses, palms, aroids and bulbs. Seedlings from dicots have two seed leaves, and include most other types of garden plants. If you have a seedling with only one leaf (monocot) where you know you've only sown dicots, then the seedling is probably a weed. If you've sown seeds of only monocots and your seedling has two leaves (dicot), it is probably a weed.

The Wait-and-See Approach

Sometimes it's best to avoid uncertainty and settle on a wait-and-see approach. As plants grow into their true leaves, it usually becomes easy to tell the weeds and seedlings apart. And with time, comes experience. Once you have been planting and weeding the same garden beds over several seasons, you will find it much easier to recognize the weeds from the "wanteds".

May 10, 2012 Flag
3 found this helpful

Paper towel tube supporting a sunflower seedling.I've always had a problem with critters eating my sunflowers (and other young flowers) after I plant the seedlings out into the garden. This year I'm protecting them with paper towel tubes or even wrapping paper tubes for taller seedlings and TP tubes for smaller ones.

You can cut the tube open long-wise to place it around the seedling's stem. But I just held the leaves together gently and slipped it down over the plant. Be sure to push it into the ground for stability. You don't want it to blow over in a wind and break your seedling. I mounded some soil up around it as well to keep it securely in place.

Once the plant is well established and not such a tasty target for garden varmints, you can remove the tube. After being rained on and watered, it will be easy to tear or cut with scissors. The photo shows a sunflower seedling protected among the purple coneflower plants.

By Gloria from upstate NY

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January 10, 2011 Flag
3 found this helpful

When you want to grow a small amount of seeds, and know exactly where you've planted them, use a toilet paper tube.

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May 13, 2009 Flag

Anxious to get our tomato seedlings into the ground, I thought of a way to protect the cute little plants from birds. Grab an old metal cloths hanger by the hook end with one hand and grab the middle of the longer (bottom) part of the hanger with the other hand.

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October 21, 2011 Flag
1 found this helpful

My sweet grandson always comes over to weed eat in my yard. He cannot tell a weed from a new plant I've put out and has hacked a few of my plants down by accident. Now I cut the top and bottom out of a tin can.

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September 17, 2013 Flag
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Use the free supermarket plastic carrier bags as small windbreaks for recently planted seedlings.

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October 22, 2009 Flag
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Young trees are a favorite snack of hungry deer, especially in the spring and fall while there's still snow on the ground. Most young pines can recover from minor amounts of repeat browsing as long as the terminal bud remains intact.

Protecting Pine Seedlings From Deer Browsing

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June 16, 2011 Flag
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During hot days, put pinestraw on top of new trees or plants to keep the sun from burning them.

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May 13, 2009 Flag
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Cut off the tops of 2 liter plastic soft drink bottles to use to protect seedlings (and to discourage cutworms). Use the bottoms of the bottles as saucers for potted plants. They work great and will protect surfaces from spills if you over water.

By Laurie from Fairbanks, AK

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July 1, 2008 Flag
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My tip for protecting small plants and starters is to cover them with a 2 liter clear plastic soda bottle. I cut off the bottom and discard it. Then I place the remaining bottle over my small or sensitive plants and flowers to protect them from the elements. The great thing about this is that the bottles are clear so they continue to get sun and if I need to water them, I simple unscrew the bottle tops, give them a little drink and air during the day and then close them back up at night. This system has been working very will for me since I started doing it several years ago. Of course I have only a balcony garden as I live in the middle of a large city.

By Lisingreece from Greece

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