Damping Off Disease

Arguably the most common, and certainly the most frustrating, seedling disease has to be damping off. Damping off is a common term used for several fungal diseases that cause sudden seedling death. Seedlings get very thin where the stem meets the soil. Young seedlings will then fall over, shrivel up and die.

The wisdom of Ben Franklin applies here; “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. To prevent damping off you must:

  • Sterilize your containers with a 1:10 bleach solution
  • Use a sterile seed starting mix
  • Plant seeds on the soil surface and top with vermiculite, milled sphagnum peat moss, chicken grit or sand
  • A one time sprinkling of cinnamon or charcoal on the soil surface will act as an anti-fungal agent
  • Water containers from below allowing the surface of the soil to dry slightly between waterings
  • Provide good air circulation around seedlings with a fan
  • Spray seedlings with an ounce of cooled, strongly brewed chamomile tea diluted in a quart of water