Care & Maintenance

The following activities are necessary for the proper care and maintenance of seedlings:

Watering

Watering In general, watering twice a day, preferably early in the morning and late in the afternoon, is enough. However, it also depends on the seedling size and stage of development. Small seedlings past the germination stage need small quantities of water at frequent intervals. Larger seedlings need more water. Over-watering lessens essential nutrients. It also increases fungal and bacterial attack. In addition, excessive watering results in tender, overgrown, succulent plants, sometimes of a yellowish color. Insufficient watering causes wilting and stunted growth of seedlings.

Weeding

Weeding Weeding is done manually to enable the seedlings to have more soil nutrients, moisture, light and space. Any weeds among the seedlings should be removed carefully to avoid disturbance to the roots.

Shading

Shading Shading protects young seedlings from damages caused by direct sunlight. Use coconut or banana sheaths, cogon, and other locally available materials as temporary shades during and shortly after germination and after transplanting. Thereafter, gradually remove the shade until they have all the light they can tolerate without harm.

Root pruning

Root Pruning Root pruning is the cutting of roots that grow out of the pots or containers to have quality and uniform seedling sizes. This will also facilitate transport to the planting field. Lift the pot regularly and cut root outgrowth using pruning shears.

Fertilizer Application

Fertilizers supplement the essential nutrient requirements of the growing seedlings that are not provided by the potting mix. Apply complete soluble fertilizers every fifteen (15) days. For small seedlings, use lower concentration of fertilizer. Dissolve 10 kgs. of fertilizer in 200 liters of water. For bigger seedlings, dissolve 15 kgs. of fertilizer per 200 liters of water. This avoids nutrient loss and possible fertilizer burns on the plants.

Protection from pest and diseases

Nursery pests and diseases greatly affect the quantity and quality of seedlings. Without appropriate preventive/control measures, they can cause indirect losses. These losses disrupt planting schedules or reduce survival of outplanted stock. Some examples of nursery pests are jumping lice, grubs, shoot borers, leafhoppers, and defoliators. Some plant diseases are dumping off, leaf spot, root/leaf/stem rot, needle blight, gall rust, and wilting.

The risk of insect pests and diseases can be greatly reduced through the following nursery hygiene:

  • sterilize all potting materials
  • disinfect all nursery equipment and the general working area regularly
  • bring/take into the nursery only plant materials that are free from diseases and insect pests
  • monitor the occurrence of any insect pest or disease constantly

HARDENING-OFF

Hardening-off is the final stage of nursery care of the seedlings. This prepares them for the prevailing environmental conditions in the planting area.

Hardening off is done through the following activities:

Transfer grown up seedlings to a hardening area.
Reduce watering and shading gradually.

Prune all the protruding roots a month before outplanting.

For over-sized seedlings, trim the leaves to at least 1/3 of their size to avoid excessive loss of water.

After one (1) to one-and-a-half months in the hardening area, the seedlings are ready for outplanting.