Vegetable Plant Identification
from Seed to Seedling

How do you tell if what comes up in your garden is what you planted? Is it the vegetable you wanted or is it a weed that will compete for water, space, and nutrients? How can you tell what the seedling is supposed to look like?

Below are images of seeds and the seedlings that sprout from them to help you with this common problem. Weeds tend to come up very quickly when water is applied to soil. These images will help you to recognize what the plant will look like as it first emerges from the soil. Rows make it a bit easier too.

The first leaves are not true leaves, and will be replaced by true leaves in a few days. True leaves will have the shape and charachteristics of the adult plants. I am providing images of both so that you will not accidentally pull up your vegetable, thinking that it is a weed.

Photos of Seeds and Seedlings by Vegetable

I don't have photos of every vegetable, but most of the major ones are below. Others will be added over time.


bean seeds

Here are different types of bean seeds, as labeled in the photo. They will all have a similar appearance as a seedling. Pole type will begin to have runners that search for something to wind their little green tendrils around for support.

bean seedling bean leaves

The seedling still has the outside of the seed on it as it emerges, and leaves haven't opened up yet. The stem will be the first thing you see, like an upside down U rising out of the soil. Then it will straighten out and bring the leaves up.

Beans do not like being transplanted, it is much better to put them directly into the garden when all danger of frost is past. Plant bush beans about 3 inches apart, and you can put 2 rows next to each other about 1 foot apart. Then plant an underground plant like radishes before the next row.

Beans will not cross because they are self pollinated, so you can have another 2 rows of different beans on the other side of the radishes. Bush beans will produce for about 6-8 weeks. If you want more beans then plant more rows every 2-3 weeks.

Be sure to provide support in some form for your pole beans. Put them about 5 inches apart and at least 18 inches for rows. Pole beans won't produce as much at once, but will continue to produce all season. beet seeds young beet seedlings Young beet plant

Plant one seed every 3 inches in a row, or 9 seeds in a square foot. This way you won't have to thin them out. They take about 2 months after coming up to reach maturity.

Beets are a cool season crop best planted in early spring or fall. They can be eaten at smaller sizes too, so if you plant some in August and they are not quite finished by the time you know it's going to frost, harvest them anyway.

Many people grow the variety "Bull's Blood" for the beet greens. These can be used in salads or cooked. Beets are related to Chard and Spinach, and like them, are high in oxalic acid.

They will stain your hands and clothes, so take appropriate precautions when handling them.

There are many varieties and types of beets. Some are golden, some purple, and the traditional deep red.

Sugar beets are grown commercially to make sugar, and these are white.

Look at different varieties and decide what you want to try.


broccoli seeds broccoli true and seed leaf Broccoli seeds are round and tiny, especially considering the size to which the plant grows.

When the seedlings emerge from the soil, they look similar to early radish seed leaves, smooth and rounded.Look that the shape of the leaves,front and back, and you will see the difference. Also the stem is not red, but green.

Broccoli is best started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. It likes cool weather so plant it as close to the last frost date as possible.

Plant them at least 1 foot apart. The crown will form in the center first. Once harvested, side crowns will come out and grow nearly as large as the center.

Harvest before it begins to flower. Hot weather will send it into reproductive mode, and mulch and cool soil can delay this for a few days if you know the temperature is going to go up.

This photo shows the baby leaf and a true leaf just coming in. The next is the seedling ready to plant. At about six weeks after germination the seedling plants should be ready.

broccoli plant in garden Broccoli makes seed in the second year, so if you want to save seeds you will need to plant some for a fall garden and keep them over the winter.

You cannot have them and another vegetable from the same family without them crossing,B so keep to one vegetable from this family per year if you plan to keep seed.

You can harvest the center crown and some of the side crowns but leave 2 side crowns per plant for seed.

When planting the seedlings, put them just deep enough that all leaves are above the soil. They grow quickly, and will soon be forming those delicious heads we look forward to harvesting.

They will be ready when the heads are full, and look like those available at the grocery store. If you see them beginning to flower with little yellow flowers, harvest them quickly before the flavor changes.

The pages below continue the description and images of seedling vegetable plants. They list is organized alphabetically, and also by image in the right column.

If you click on the vegetable you want information about in that right column, it will take you to the page for that particular one.

Most pages have several different vegetables, so you may have to scroll down the page to find the one you are searching for. The images are only available on this page, so if you want another you need to come back to this page to get there.

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