Any suggestions as to what to do with runts?

I would say that at least half of the seedlings that I planted out this year are less than a foot high.

About 2 weeks ago, I sprayed them with Gibberelic acid in an attempt to speed up their growth. In some cases this seems to have helped, but there still are a lot of runts.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I am concerned that these “runts” will not survive the northern Ohio zone 5 winter.


Seriously, if they look healthy and you want to keep them, have you tried water wells? They work great!


I’m definitely of the opinion that runts should be left to fend for themselves through the first, and every winter. (Unless, of course, the plant is the result of a difficult cross and represents an important collection of genes to be used for further breeding) Survival of the fittest, yes? If selecting for winter hardiness is part of your program, then let it begin in year one.

I do not consider this case to be a true test of the survival of the fitest because many of these runts are late planted seedlings (I expect that they would not have trouble surviving the winter if planted out earlier). Right now I am afraid that their root system is not deep enough to be protected from freezing / and / or / being heaved out of the soil.

I think I will try spraying them with harpin ( ) with the hope that between now and Thanksgiving that the root system will develop sufficiently to take them through the winter.


The rubbish bin is the only place for runts . I only keep seedlings of great vigor , good healthy leaf , and at least 35 petals . In New Zealand we say breed , feed and weed .

I hope that the snow over the weekend was the last of the season. I went out to see how the “runt” rose seedlings survived the winter. As suspected many of them were heaved out of the soil. A number of those heaved still had green in the canes so I replanted them. The roots however looked completely dried out. We shall see.