Why are True Leaves Important?

Seeds are nature's promise of new life, sending up sprouts from a tiny seed to reach towards the sun is an exciting time of year. A renewal of life and hope for wonderful things to come! My favorite saying goes, “from tiny seeds, grow mighty trees” (this was printed on the fabric of one of my son’s first quilts). As they sprout, seedlings reveal their first leaves, called cotyledons, which serve as the seedling's initial energy source. You will see the seed sprout with either one or two leaves - monocots or dicots, depending on the type of plant. Tomatoes are dicots and corn will be a monocot (I talk about this in the eggshell seedling blog).  Following the initial formation of one or two leaves, you will see the formation of a second set of leaves called "true leaves."


Understanding True Leaves

True leaves are the second set of leaves to appear as a seedling grows. Unlike first leaves, or cotyledons, which are often different in shape and function from the plant's mature leaves, true leaves closely resemble the leaves that will define the plant's appearance as it matures, just on a smaller scale. These “true leaves” perform photosynthesis, the process by which plants create their own food using sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water.


The Significance of True Leaves

Spotting the emergence of true leaves is an exciting milestone in the life of your seedlings, indicating that it's ready to graduate to the next stage of growth. When true leaves appear, it's a sign that the seedling has used up the nutrients stored in the seed and is now capable of absorbing nutrients from its environment. This is the cue for transplanting, as the seedling will soon outgrow its seedling pot and require more space and nutrients to continue thriving!


The Next Steps: Transplanting Seedlings

Once true leaves have appeared, it's time to consider transplanting your seedlings. This involves carefully removing them from their seedling tray or pot and replanting them into larger containers or directly into the ground after your first frost. This process allows the seedling's roots to expand and access more nutrients, setting the stage for healthy growth throughout the plant’s lifecycle.


Cultivating Your Garden with True Leaves

Understanding the journey of true leaves is not only fascinating but also practical for gardeners. Recognizing this stage of growth is an important step to provide the best care for your seedlings, ensuring they have the space and resources they need to flourish.

At this point, you might be eager to start your own seedling journey. Visit Alliance of Native Seedkeepers, where you can find a wide selection of seeds to start your garden. Use code "CMM" at checkout to enjoy 10% off your entire seedling order and free shipping over $25.

Start your garden with confidence, knowing you're giving your plants the best start possible.


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