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Damping Off Disease

Damping Off disease is perhaps the most common problem when starting seeds. It typically occurs when seedlings are young. Healthy young plants wilt, droop over, and die. Upon close examination, you see a white mold growing on the surface of the soil.  It appears as if your seedlings have been cut off at the base. It's a disastrous start to the new gardening season.

Damping off disease is a very common problem, and especially so for new gardens. It can, and does, happen to experienced gardeners, too. Most commonly occurring with indoor seed starting, it can also happen outdoors.

Left untreated,this disease is usually quick spreading and fatal. The good news is you can usually stop the spread. More importantly, learn how to keep this plant disease from getting a start in your seed trays. 

Want to learn how to avoid Damping off disease? read on.........

Cause of Damping Off Disease:

Damping Off Disease thrives in cool or cold, dark or cloudy, wet or damp conditions. The lack of air circulation, also encourages growth of this disease. Like your plants, nitrogen in the soil feeds disease growth.

 The disease is airborne and can spread quickly from one seed tray to another. The fungal spores take root in your soil, and quickly spreads across the seed tray, jumping to other trays with ease. It is fatal to young seedlings, nipping them off at the soil level.

Many new growers will start their seedlings indoors, in a cool, damp basement. It's the perfect breeding ground for this disease.

To avoid Damping Off Disease, take this environment away, and the disease doesn't grow.

Controlling and Treatment:

Here's some really good news..... Damping Off Disease can be easily avoided. If Damping Off Disease occurs, act immediately to eliminate it. Remove diseased sections to minimize the spread. Replant, if needed, in new soil and clean containers. Do not reuse the soil. Either use new containers, or sterilize the ones you were using. We recommend new containers.

Controlling the disease is a matter of removing the environment that Damping Off disease thrives in. Here are the basic do's and don'ts:


** Buy sterilized seed starting soil.

** Use clean, sterilized containers.

** Provide plenty of air circulation.

Tip: Use a small fan and direct a gentle breeze across the room. The important word here is "gentle"

** Thin seedlings to increase air circulation.

** Provide as much sunlight as possible.

** Let the surface of the soil dry out between watering. Watering from the bottom is preferred.

** Stir the top of the soil around the seedlings.

** Put plants in a sunny location.


** Don't leave your seedling trays in the basement. Basements are perfect breeding grounds.

** Don't overwater plants.

** Do not use fertilizer on your new seedlings.

** Don't use tray covers. While it is a popular practice to use them, they increase the humidity level and encourage disease growth. 

Home Grown Tips:

It is believed that soaking seeds in a small amount of water and a clove of crushed garlic will prevent the disease.

Some people suggest misting the plant with Chamomile tea as a preventative.

Some people suggest fireplace ash on the top of the soil.

Cinnamon also acts as a fungicide.

Sphagnum moss spread thinly on the surface of the soil.

More On Damping Off Plant Disease

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