For Greener Thumbs, Tip #8: Damping Off

Have you ever sown new seeds, saw them happily sprout, and then a day or two later see them toppled over as if some miniature lumberjack cut the sprout down at the base? Your seedlings may have been victims of what is known as Damping Off.

Damping Off is a fungal disease that attacks seedlings at the base next to the soil. This is why you may see your new sprout toppled over like a fallen tree. The base of the sprout will look like it shriveled away.

I’ve unfortunately experienced this many times with my seeds. Here are some tips to help avoid this situation and to try to stem the fungal from growing in your seedlings soil.

  1. Use sterilized soil. This means clean soil but, sometimes I’m not sure I trust that soil bought from a store is sterile so, I recommend cooking the small amount of soil for your seeds in the oven a couple hours at around 250f. Your seedlings will be ok with the sterilized soil and once it’s ready to be transplanted to your garden, you will introduce it to soil with all the good organisms in it. (Don’t cook it with the seeds!)
  2. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the soil after you’ve planted the seedling. Cinnamon is known to have an antifungal affect.
  3. Use water mixed with some chamomile. Also known to help prevent the fungus.
  4. Keep a fan on the seedlings, or some way to ensure good air circulation is going over the newly planted seedlings.
  5. Keep it warm. The fungus that causes damping off prefers cool, and wet environments.

Cheers and keep working your Green Thumbs!