Can You Bury Leggy Marigold Seedlings?

Flowering plants are sometimes leggy, meaning they become too thin and tall to support themselves. This mostly happens because the plants try to stretch into areas with more light, so they become scraggly and thin. If you’ve noticed that your marigold seedlings are leggy, can you bury them? 

You can bury leggy marigold seedlings. By planting two-thirds of the stems into the soil, you’ll encourage the seedlings to produce new roots. This prevents leggy marigolds from dying so they can grow into healthier plants. 

In this article, I’ll explore what you need to know about why you should bury leggy marigold seedlings and how to bury them to give them the best chance of survival.  

Why You Can Bury Leggy Marigold Seedlings

Marigold seedlings are prone to becoming leggy because they need a lot of sun on a daily basis. You should keep them in an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day as they thrive in full-sun conditions. If your marigolds don’t get enough sun, the plants will stretch out and become taller in an attempt to reach for the light that they require. 

If your marigold seedlings have become leggy, you can bury their seedlings to make up for their long stems. When buried or planted, the seedlings will grow roots. Seedlings have the amazing ability to do this because they contain three main parts, as Bionity reports: 

  • Radicle (embryonic root) 
  • Hypocotyl (embryonic shoot) 
  • Cotyledons (seed leaves)

Benefits of Burying Leggy Marigold Seedlings

Legginess doesn’t just make your marigold seedlings look unattractive. It can cause the death of your plants because their legginess is a sign that they’re battling to survive.

Here are important reasons why you should bury your leggy marigold seedlings:

  • Leggy seedlings don’t have strong stems. This means they can’t remain upright, so they’re not going to survive. 
  • Leggy seedlings don’t store enough carbohydrates they need. This is a result of how they don’t get enough sunlight, which is why they’re thin and scraggly in the first place. 
  • Leggy seedlings aren’t strong enough to tolerate the elements. Since they don’t have strong stems, they’ll be stressed and become damaged by the harsh sun and strong winds. 

How To Bury Leggy Marigold Seedlings

Before you bury your leggy marigold seedlings, make sure you follow some important tips to encourage them to grow healthy. You have to meet the requirements of the marigold plants so that they won’t die off.  

Prick the Seedlings Before Burying Them

It’s best not to handle your marigold seedlings too much. Therefore, be gentle when burying them. Use a chopstick to remove a clump of seedlings out of the soil and place them on a flat surface. Remove individual seedlings so that you can plant them in new containers. 

If you use your hands, make sure you lift seedlings by their leaves and avoid touching their stems because they’re fragile. 

Use your chopstick to create holes in the soil for the seedlings. Make large enough holes for the roots of the seedlings to reach deeply into the soil.

Don’t Bury Your Seedlings When They’re Too Young

You should avoid burying your seedlings if they’re too young, as they’re tender at this stage. If their stems are weak or scraggly, they could rot when they’re buried in moist soil, which you want to avoid. 

Harden off Your Seedlings Before Burying Them

Hardening off the seedlings is important as it helps them to become acclimatized to the temperatures and weather conditions they’ll experience outside. When you harden seedlings, you basically introduce them to the outdoor elements slowly so that they can get used to them. 

You can do this by keeping your seedlings outside for a few hours every day for a week, gradually increasing the time they spend there. So, start by leaving them outside for two hours, then increase the number of hours on the next day, so that by the end of the week, they will be hardened off. 

Choose the Right Potting Soil Mix

When burying your strong seedlings in a pot, make sure you use quality potting soil mix. Cover the seedling all the way up to its bottom leaves to encourage it to grow. 

Potting soil mix creates the ideal environment for seedlings to grow, and it’s much more effective than using garden soil to grow seedlings. Potting soil has a loose texture that encourages aeration and drainage. 

Don’t Overwater Your Buried Seedlings

Once you’ve buried your marigold seedlings, you should be careful not to water them too much. Seedlings are fragile, so you want to avoid overwatering them, as this can cause them to droop and wilt.

You should water your seedlings enough so that they’re moist but not waterlogged. Once they’ve germinated, seedlings require watering every two days and then every three days. This slowly helps them to adapt to a more regular watering schedule and prevents them from being stressed, as a study from Colorado State University found. 

Since seedlings are tender and delicate, you should never water them from above as this can damage them. Instead, water them from the bottom to encourage the roots to draw enough water from the soil. 

Here’s how to bottom water your seedlings in containers: 

  • Fill a tray with water one-third of the way.
  • Place your seedling trays on the tray of water. Let them sit for 30 minutes to absorb water
  • Remove the seedling trays so that they don’t sit in water.

Give Your Seedlings Enough Light

Make sure that you grow healthy seedlings by giving them enough light. Move them to a south-facing window. You should rotate their containers regularly so that enough light will strike all the seedlings and enable them to grow straight. 

If your home doesn’t get enough natural light, you should invest in grow lights. Artificial light will help them to grow healthy. Be sure to get one that is high-quality and suited for indoor and has an advanced light red spectrum that’s ideal for growing fruits, vegetables, and flowering plants 

Avoid Cold Temperatures 

Be wary of cold snaps that can cause damage to your tender seedlings. You, therefore, want to avoid temperatures that are around 32°F (0°C) or lower, so keep the seedlings indoors, especially at night when it’s cold outside. 

Give Them Enough Space

When burying your seedlings, it’s important to place them between an inch or two (2.54-5.08cm) apart from each other when they have grown their first true leaves. This will ensure that the seedlings will have enough room and get enough light to thrive. 

Enough space between seedlings encourages greater air circulation, which prevents mold from forming on the seedlings. If it’s very hot indoors, make sure you install a fan near your seedlings to give them enough air. Keep it on for a few hours per day. 

Make sure you use a small fan with adjustable speeds, as a regular house fan can produce blasts of air that are too strong for your seedlings.

Is Pinching Back an Alternative to Burying Leggy Seedlings?

Sometimes, you might not want to bury leggy marigold seedlings, such as if they’ve already grown quite a bit. In this case, you can simply pinch the seedlings back. This not only helps your seedlings to grow, but it helps them to branch out so that they’re not too thin and tall. However, you should only pinch back the second, third, or fourth set of true leaves that are present on the seedling.

Note that the first leaves on a seedling aren’t true leaves. The first leaves you see on a seedling are cotyledons or seed leaves. You can see that they sometimes contain a seed coat on their tip as they grow. By comparison, true leaves resemble adult leaves. You shouldn’t transplant your seedlings before they produce true leaves. 

Final Thoughts 

If your marigold seedlings are leggy, strengthen them instead of throwing them out because you assume that they’re not going to survive. In fact, burying the seedlings is beneficial because it encourages the growth of the plants in a healthier way.

There are essential tips to follow when burying marigold seedlings, such as the following:

  • Using a chopstick to separate individual seedlings for planting. 
  • Planting the seedlings in a potting soil mix. 
  • Giving the seedlings enough water via bottom watering every few days. 
  • Placing the seedlings in an area of the home where they’ll get six hours of sun daily.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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