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Can Microgreens Grow to Full Size?

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Microgreens are some of the most popular types of green foods today because they are so rich in nutrients and are arguably more nutritious than their full-grown counterparts. Growing microgreens isn’t even difficult at all, and you can easily grow some in your home as long as you have the seeds. But, because they are basically just sprouted versions of seeds and are yet to grow into full-grown plants, can microgreens grow to full size?

Theoretically, microgreens can grow to full size when you provide them the environment to do so. They are still plants that grow from normal seeds, after all. However, because microgreens are grown in conditions that can halt their growth, they probably won’t be able to grow into full-sized plants.

There is a growing number of people who are avid growers of microgreens themselves as they find these foods nutritious and delicious enough to fit their daily requirements. But because you want microgreens to stay as microgreens and not grow as full-sized plants, you need to make sure that you know what you are doing when you are growing them from their seeds so that they won’t be able to grow to their full size.

Can microgreens grow to full size?

Microgreens are increasingly becoming popular today because of their amazing nutritional benefits. It is believed that a microgreen is more nutritious than its seed or bean counterpart and that it also carries more vitamins and minerals than its full-sized plant (we will go into the reason for that later on). As such, adding microgreens to your regular diet seems like a good idea if you want to have complete and balanced nutrition.

A lot of people grow their microgreens themselves because doing so is actually quite easy as you basically only need the seeds, some soil, water, and a container to do the trick. But there are some people who actually wonder whether or not growing microgreens will allow them to eventually grow to their full size if you don’t harvest them in time. After all, microgreens and full-sized plants come from the same seeds.

grow to full size

Could we grow microgreens to the full size?

Theoretically speaking, microgreens CAN grow to full-sized plants because, again, they come from the same seeds and that there are no special seeds that will only turn out to be microgreens. However, for you to understand why seeds that are planted for the purpose of growing microgreens won’t turn out to grow to their full size, let us try to look at how microgreens are actually grown.

When you are growing microgreens, you have to sow a lot of seeds in a tiny and cramped space to the point that some of the seeds are actually touching one another. There are even some cases wherein the seeds themselves are exposed to air and are not covered by the soil when they are sown. And most people who grow microgreens only use about an inch of soil.

As the seeds sprout and begin to grow, the roots will branch out through the soil and will eventually get tangled while they hit the bottom of the tray with no more room to branch out to. Because of that, the sprouted seed will begin to use up all of the energy stored in the seed as it grows.

You should understand that a plant at this stage of its life will most likely get most of its energy from the energy stored by the seed and not from the nutrients found in the soil, which is why microgreens are more nutrient-dense than actual full-sized greens as microgreens still have some nutrients and energy left over.

But as the microgreens begin to grow while using the energy they had when they were still seeds, they will now begin to try to find nutrients from the soil to use as energy. However, since they are so closely planted together and they are basically competing for little to no nutrients in the shallow soil, the microgreens won’t ever find enough energy to grow more. It is at this stage that they are ready to be harvested and eaten.

grow to full size

Many varieties of microgreens

Also, it is at this stage when the plants get stressed out a lot as they are trying their hardest to compete with all of the other microgreens in a tiny container. As such, this explains why microgreens won’t grow back if you cut them while harvesting them as the roots themselves have been stressed out too much to grow back. In fact, cutting the microgreen will actually stress the plant too much to the point that it will eventually die.

As such, you probably have already understood by now why microgreens won’t grow to full size. In theory, the same seed you use to grow microgreens has the capacity to grow into a full-sized plant as long as you give it the proper conditions for it to actually grow. But because the seeds are planted not for the purpose of growing full-sized plants but only for the purpose of growing microgreens, there won’t be a chance for them to grow to their full size even if they originally had the capacity to.

Do microgreens keep growing?

In relation to the previous question, do microgreens keep on growing? Well, of course not! The fact that microgreens won’t be able to grow to their full size means that they will stop growing at some point in their lifespan. Again, let us go back to how microgreens are grown.

Skipping to the part where the microgreens are already competing with one another for nutrients in the thin layer of soil you planted their seeds in, these plants will no longer have the energy they need to keep on growing as they are already in a very stressful situation wherein they want to grow but they can’t because you didn’t put them in an environment that will allow them to reach their full size.

So, in that sense, the microgreens will stay as microgreens or at the stage where they are ready to be harvested because of how stressed they are. They are too malnourished at this point in their lifespan to keep on growing as they have all but used up all of the energy they had stored up when they were seeds.

We mentioned before that cutting off the microgreens from the rest of the plant will cause the roots to die out due to how stressful the situation is. The same thing will happen even if you don’t harvest the microgreens as they are already too stressed to be able to continue growing and living and will eventually die out. So, in that sense, even if you don’t harvest the microgreens, they will stop growing and eventually die.

In the same way, a harvested microgreen will also prevent the roots from ever-growing a new plant again due to the stress. In other words, microgreens are merely one-hit wonders that will never grow and will eventually die out as a result of the stressful situation they are placed under.

grow to full size

Tasty microgreen sandwich

What if you give the microgreens more soil and nutrients?

So, assuming that the microgreens have reached their full size as microgreens and are ready to be harvested, can you transport them to your garden and give them enough soil and nutrients for them to continue to grow?

Probably not. The reason is that microgreens have already been stressed out too much at that stage in their lives to actually grow more even if they were given enough soil and nutrients after their growth has halted. You have done too much damage to them to the point that they won’t ever start growing again even if you wanted them to.

It’s a different story if you planted the seeds for the purpose of actually growing mature plants. As long as you give the seeds enough space, nutrients, and soil from the very beginning, they will have the capacity to surpass their microgreen stage and eventually grow into full-sized plants.

But since we are talking about seeds that are planted for the purpose of growing microgreens, then no, they probably won’t ever reach their mature sizes as plants. Theoretically, the seeds should have the potential to grow into full-sized plants but the fact that you grew them as microgreens will take that potential away from them.

How big do microgreens get?

Microgreens should never be mistaken for sprouts as microgreens are the more mature versions of the sprouted seeds. That’s why you should never try to harvest the microgreens while they are still in their sprouted stage as they are still not yet ready to be harvested.

So, how big should the microgreens get before they are ready to be harvested? They should be about two inches tall at the microgreen stage as, at this point, the stems should already have seed leaves and true leaves that are actually already mature enough to be harvested and eaten. As such, you might have to wait until the microgreens are about two inches tall before you think about harvesting them.

Want to learn more?

If you have any questions about the information cited in this post or about microgreens in general, please leave a comment below or reach out to us via email hello@reactgreens.com.

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