Tending Tips & Troubleshooting


Seeds planted or placed in the germination Petri dish on a Monday will complete germination during the first week.

Plant in potting mix NOT potting soil.

Keep room temperature between 60 – 90°F (15.5 – 32°C)

Growth and Development

Adjust lights as the plants grow so that lights are 5 – 10 cm from the growing tip

Keep water reservoirs filled, especially before the weekend

Thin to one plant per cell if using quads, 6 plants per one liter bottle, or 12 plants per 2–liter bottle.

If needed, stake plants right away if they begin to bend.


Keep flowers from contacting lights directly (they will overheat)

Keep plants below 90°F (32°C) or flowers will become sterile

Beesticks should be made one or two days prior to pollination.

When making beesticks the bees may be very dry and brittle. Soften the bees by placing them in an airtight container with a little moist paper towel overnight.

Seeds and Harvesting

20 days after pollination, stop watering plants so that seed pods dry

Growing Systems can be reused. Clean all growing system components, including watermats and soak in 10% bleach solution for 20 minutes, rinse well, and air dry.


Poor Germination – (no seedling emergence)

Seeds planted too deep in wickpot
Planting mix compacted, or too wet when filling wickpots
Wickpot not watered sufficiently after planting
Seeds washed out of wickpot
Room temperature below 60°F (15.5°C)
If seedlings do not appear by Day 4, start over.

Plants Growing Slowly

Lower temperature in school than normal on weekends and holidays
Not enough light. Plants not grown in a Plant Light House or under less than 6 cool–white fluorescent bulbs in light bank
Plants growing at lower temperature due to location near window in winter
Poor capillary action between plants and nutrient reservoir

Plants Look Spindly

Lights too far away from plants. Ideally plants should be 5–10 cm from growing tip
Fertilizer not mixed properly or not added to the reservoir
Poor capillary action between plants and nutrient reservoir

Plants Die

Wicks not placed correctly in bottom of wickpots
Tail on the capillary mat not in water, may be stuck to bottom of 1/4 lb. container
Capillary mat not wet thoroughly all air pockets not removed when watering system was set up
Capillary mat clogged and not wicking water (wash mat in 5% vinegar solution, rinse thoroughly)
Wickpot not completely on the capillary mat
Water in reservoir ran out over weekend (always check water on Fridays!)
Plant damaged during thinning (handle gently)
Plant damaged during movement (as plants grow taller, stake and secure them with twist ties or thread)

Plants Wilt

If the worst happens (i.e. you forgot to fill the reservoir) and the plants are wilting (but not yet crispy), you may be able to save your plants. Water the wickpots gently from above for several minutes. Be sure that the wicks are dripping and the planting mix is moist. If the planting mix has completely dried, it may be hydrophobic and difficult to remoisten. Rewet the capillary mat and tail and place the wickpots back on mat.

No Seed Production

Pollination not adequately performed
Too much heat in the classroom during pollination period. When temperatures are above 85°F many Fast Plants(TM) will lose the capability of producing pollen.

Download a pdf file with complete, illustrated growing instructions, including how to use a Growing System constructed from deli containers

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