Jamie Butterworth explains all, in this Quick Tips video. Others will have stems that appear pinched or broken, causing them to collapse while they still have their cotyledons attached. Damping off will quickly spread to nearby plants. There’s also a pre-emergence form of damping off that rots the seed before it’s had a chance to germinate. It most commonly occurs when roots, seeds, or seedlings undergo an attack from fungi that formed in soil. How to Prevent Seedling Damping Off. Often it appears the seedling has been pinched off at the soil line. An EEO/AA employer, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension provides equal opportunities in employment and programming, including Title VI, Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requirements. Feedback, questions or accessibility issues: © 2020 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. What does damping-off look like?  Seedlings killed by damping-off initially are healthy, but shortly after emergence, become infected at or just below the soil line.  The lower stems of the seedlings collapse and the seedlings fall over onto the soil surface.  The seedlings subsequently die.Â, Where does damping-off come from?  Damping-off is caused by several soil-borne fungi, most commonly including Pythium spp., Rhizoctonia solani and Fusarium spp.  These fungi readily survive and are moved around in soil or on soil-contaminated items (e.g., pots, workbenches).Â, How do I save seedlings with damping-off?  Seedlings with damping-off will die and cannot be saved.  Proper prevention is the only way to avoid problems with this disease.Â. This rot eventually claims the plant. The pathogens attack the tender stems and roots of the seedlings. Damping-off is generally limited to areas where drainage is poor or where soil is compacted, but whole fields can be affected, especially in … The seedlings, especially the cotyledons (the first leaves produced) may have a kind of gray-brown color, and young leaves will wilt and turn from green-gray to brown. It can be caused by several types of fungi, namely Pythium, Botrytis, and Fusarium. 1  It can be caused by any of a handful of fungal diseases, including several root rots (Pythium, Phytophthora) and molds (Sclerotinia or white mold, Botrytis or gray mold). But, it can also wreak havoc in seeds below the soil. Stems usually have a dark, shriveled portion at the soil line. We teach, learn, lead and serve, connecting people with the University of Wisconsin, and engaging with them in transforming lives and communities. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board, Plant your seeds at the proper depth so they don't have to work so hard to germinate. Caused by several different fungi, damping off attacks tomato seeds, stems, and roots. Damping off is a term used for the sudden death of new plant seedlings. It can be caused by any of a handful of fungal diseases, including several root rots (Pythium, Phytophthora) and molds (Sclerotinia or white mold, Botrytis or gray mold). Good hygiene is very important, so be sure to use clean equipment and fresh compost. A soil-borne fungal disease that affects seeds and new seedlings, damping off usually refers to the rotting of stem and root tissues at and below the soil surface. As seeds germinate they may be attacked or the seedlings may be infected in the post emergence stage. It can kill your seeds as they germinate. Damping-off is a common disease that can affect sprouting seeds, seedlings, or cuttings. Don’t overwater your seedlings or leave them sitting in water. It’s probably one of the most frustrating problems that can occur when starting seeds, especially indoors. Damping-off is the term gardeners use to describe the wilting and death of seedlings just before or just after they emerge from the soil. Shortly after emerging, seedlings develop a discolored, often black color at the soil line. It’s not uncommon to have to throw away an entire tray of seedlings. The soil underneath will remain moist, even if the sand or gravel dries out. This keeps the seedling itself dry and less susceptible. Damping-off is one of the most common disease problems causing seedling losses in North American forest nurseries. Damping-off disease is the name of a soil-borne fungus that primarily affects seedlings. Damping off is a sort of reaction that your marijuana plant has to a disease. In most cases, infected plants will germinate and come up fine, but within a few days they become … Protection methods of dying of Seedlings from fungal or bacterial attack and some normal tips of growing seedlings. Damping off disease is a fungal infection that can kill seedlings. The good news is only very young seedlings are affect… Damping-off is caused by a number of seed- and soil-borne fungi and funguslike oomycetes, including Rhizoctonia solani, Aphanomyces cochlioides, and species of Pythium, Phytophthora, Botrytis, Fusarium, Cylindrocladium, Diplodia, Phoma, and Alternaria. University of Minnesota Extension, Marie Iannotti is an author, photographer, and speaker with 27 years of experience as a Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator and Master Gardener, The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Although fungus is the main reason for damping-off, the disease is normally the result of several conditional factors. Rather, it is a number of different fungi and molds that cause a range of symptoms but all result in the death of the seedlings. What is damping-off?  Damping-off is a common and fatal disease that affects all types of plant seedlings.  The disease is most prevalent when seeds are germinated in cool, wet soils.  Fortunately, seedlings are susceptible to damping-off for only a short period following emergence and eventually outgrow their susceptibility to the disease as they age. But can it be prevented? Damping-off can be caused by any one of several fungi in the seed starting medium (Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Fusarium, Phytophthora, Sclerotinia, Sclerotium, or Botrytis). You may see some gradual discoloring or it may happen very suddenly. An affected seed tray would have a bare area of compost, probably near … Damping-off disease is the number 1 cause of bedding plant and seedling failures, by home gardeners. Save to My scrapbook It is most prevalent in wet and cool conditions. Mix a splash (1 T.) of 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide/quart of water and mist the seedling with it. It is an oft recommended technique for preventing fungal spores from ruining your seedlings, such as baking your soil at 140 degrees for 30 minutes. This disease causes emerging seedlings to collapse, often submerged in a mass of white fungal growth. Damping off is a fungal infection that’s generally characterized by the absence (or rotting) of roots, and thin, thread-like stems where the seedlings are infected. Most affected by cold, wet, humid conditions, young seedlings are susceptible to infection, and damping off disease can be devastating to a new tomato crop. Drain off any excess. Damping off spreads rapidly. If you should spot signs of damping off, remove those seedlings immediately and apply one of the homemade fungicides described below, to all remaining seedlings. Damping off is the term for a group of deadly seedling diseases which are fatal for tomato seedlings. Connect with your County Extension Office », Find an Extension employee in our staff directory », Get the latest news and updates on Extension's work around the state, Feedback, questions or accessibility issues: info@extension.wisc.edu | © 2020 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System Privacy Policy | Non-Discrimination Policy | Discrimination and Harassment Complaints | Disability Accommodation Requests | Civil Rights. There is some debate on the subject of sterilizing your growing medium. Infected seeding containers, poor air circulation, overly … The tiny seedlings die so quickly, you probably would not have time to help them if you could. There is no cure for damping off, once it occurs. That's why it is important to try and avoid the problem altogether, with the following prevention practices. Damping off is a real threat when caring for seedlings after germination. Germinating seed and seedlings, especially weak ones, are vulnerable to attack by these fungi during periods of unfavorable growing conditions. If your seedlings were growing along fine and suddenly wilt and die, it's a good bet they have succumbed to some form of damping off disease. Damping off is a fungal disease that causes the tiny plants to wither and die. The fungi develop from microscopic spores that can be both air and waterborne. It can stem from contaminated containers or soil and is worsened by incorrect watering practices. A strong, commercial fungicide is a last resort for controlling damping-off and will probably be applied too late to be effective. Add a thin coating of sand or gravel on top of the potting soil, to keep the surface relatively dry. Don’t bury the, Don’t crowd your seedlings. Prepare a strong brew of chamomile or cinnamon tea and use it to water and/or mist your seedlings. Damping off only affects seedlings. If damping off occurs, try one or more of these methods to “nip it in the bud!” (Pun intended!) By the time you realize a seedling has been infected, it’s too late. Damping off (or damping-off) is a horticultural disease or condition, caused by several different pathogens that kill or weaken seeds or seedlings before or after they germinate. Read our, What to Do If Your Seedlings Get Damping Off, How to Prevent White Fuzzy Mold on Seedlings, How to Identify and Treat Botrytis or Gray Mold on Tomatoes, How to Get Rid of Green Algae on Seed Starting Mix, How to Treat and Prevent Black Spots on Roses, Ornamental Cabbage (Flowering Kale) Plant Profile, Prevent Plant Diseases With Good Gardening Practices, Cucamelon (Mexican Sour Gherkin) Plant Profile. If possible, create a breeze by placing a small fan nearby and turning it on periodically each day. Damping off is a disease of seedlings caused by several different fungi and fungus-like organisms. WHAT IS DAMPING-OFF? Damping-off is a term applied to a very common trouble in which seedlings are attacked by soil-inhabiting fungi usually just at the soil level on to hypocotyl or upper taproot causing partial or complete rot and the seedlings suddenly topple over in a characteristic manner. This attack stops the upward movement of nutrients, making your marijuana plant is not receiving a … Seedling collapse, or damping-off is a wide-spread problem for gardeners and commercial growers. If so, be prepared to take precautions ahead of time. In pre-emergence damping off, fungi infect the seed as it germinates. In a 32 oz spray bottle, mix 1 TBSP (or 1/2 ounce) of 3% hydrogen peroxide with water. Water seedlings from the bottom, by placing the container in a tray of water. Apply a light dusting of cinnamon on the soil surface. Lower stem collapse of Zinnia seedlings due to damping-off. Brian Hudelson, UW-Madison Plant Pathology Revised:  4/25/2004 Item number:  XHT1124. Sadly, sometimes you have to be prepared to start over. It attacks at the stem, causing it to rot away and for the root tissues at and below the soil line to disintegrate. Seedlings with root rot can appear to be wilting, even when kept watered. Damping off is a term commonly used for indicating the sudden death of seedlings, often caused by soil-borne fungus stimulated to grow by nutrients from a germinating seed. Fortunately, seedlings are susceptible to damping-off for only a short period following emergence and eventually outgrow their susceptibility to the disease as they age. Damping-off is a term used for a variety of fungal problems that lead to sudden seedling death. Damping off is a common fungal disease found in young seedlings. Seedlings affected by damping-off fail to emerge or fall over and die soon after emergence. The fungi include species of Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Fusarium, Phytophthora, Sclerotinia, Sclerotium, Botrytis, and others. How do I avoid problems with damping-off in the future?  When planting seeds, make sure that work areas, tools and pots are pathogen-free.  Spray disinfectants that are at least 70% alcohol can be used to disinfest tools and workbenches.  To disinfest previously used pots, wash them with soapy water, then soak them for at least 20 minutes in 10% bleach, then rinse them thoroughly to remove bleach residues.  DO NOT reuse plastic pots if you have had problems with damping-off (or root rots) in the past, as they are difficult to disinfest.  Be sure to use a well-drained, pasteurized potting mixture when planting.  DO NOT use garden soils as they often contain damping-off pathogens.  DO NOT plant seeds too deeply and germinate seeds at high temperatures, so that seedlings rapidly grow out of their susceptible phase.  DO NOT overwater as damping-off fungi such as Pythium reproduce and infect more effectively in wet soils.  Finally, if the techniques above do not work, then use of fungicide-treated seed, particularly those treated with captan, can dramatically reduce problems with damping-off. Damping off pathogens also use these exudates as a food source. If you can get them past the seedling stage, they're safe. Just because the seeds managed to sprout doesn’t mean the plants are out of danger. Damping-off is caused by fungi that live in soil and is generally encouraged when seeds are over watered, crowded or seedlings are stressed due to factors such as incorrect light and temperature. It is particularly a problem when sowing seed indoors or under glass. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. There is not a single type of fungus that causes the disease. The most common way damping off will present itself is when your plant stalks become water-soaked, thin and mushy, and fall over at the base and die. You can prevent damping off by following just a few simple techniques and pieces of advice. Combine that with the high humidity and warmth necessary for sprouting seeds, and you have the perfect environment for damping-off disease. On rare occasions, however, the sudden death of seedlings may be caused by other factors. Damping-off is primarily caused by fungi present in the growing medium. Damping off disease is a fungal disease that kills seedlings. Soil Sterilization. Visible damping off fungus growing on an emerging seedling. For more information on damping-off:  Contact your county Extension agent. And all of them like wet conditions. Damping-off is a common and fatal disease that affects all types of plant seedlings. The very visible collapse of the seedlings is often accompanied by a mass of tiny fungal threads. Symptoms may include poor germination, stems rotting at the soil line, stunted seedlings and/or a moldy fungal growth. Quite often a large section or an entire tray of seedlings is killed. Even poor germination may be attributable to damping off. Mist your seedlings with this mixture to cure damping off. Damping off disease is the bane of home gardeners. When young seedlings seem to be growing healthy one day and dying the next, it is probably being caused by damping off. Damping off can affect the stems of seedlings both below the soil line and above. Some seedlings may start to grow and suddenly whither. Pythium is most common. A number of fungi present in soils will cause young seedlings to die. Seeds and seedlings are prone to a fungal infection called ‘damping off’. Remove any affected plants or trays of plants immediately. Give your seedlings plenty of heat and light, so they germinate and grow quickly. This will prevent humidity from settling on your seedlings. 9, 36 Although damping-off is often reported by nursery managers to be a slight problem, 9, 36 under conditions favorable to disease development, damping-off can have a severe impact on seedling density and final inventory. Damping off is a disease of seedlings Seedlings infected by damping off rarely survive to produce a vigorous plant. Damping off is a term used for the sudden death of new plant seedlings. Be sure to leave room between them for. Even worse, if one seedling in your tray is infected there are probably many more. The disease is most prevalent when seeds are germinated in cool, wet soils. [1] Beginners and experienced gardeners alike are frustrated and disheartened when it strikes. Seedlings that suddenly collapse or fall over or bare spots in containers or in the garden where seeds were sown but never appeared are signs of damping-off. Damping-off, also written damping off, destructive disease of plant seedlings. Use to describe the wilting and death of new plant seedlings of heat and,! Wither and die soon after emergence is no cure for damping off is common... Damping-Off, the disease is a fungal infection that can occur when starting seeds, or.! Be attacked or the seedlings may be attributable to damping off moist even... Number 1 cause of bedding plant and seedling failures, by home gardeners with! Once it occurs periodically each day a single type of fungus that primarily affects seedlings be applied late... Tips for creating your most beautiful ( and bountiful ) garden ever Tips creating. Spray bottle, mix 1 TBSP ( or 1/2 ounce ) of 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide/quart of.! Other factors an attack from fungi that formed in soil root rot can appear to be healthy. Entire tray of seedlings damping off just before or just after they emerge from the bottom, by placing the container a... Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Botrytis, and Fusarium the pathogens attack the tender stems roots... Emerge from the soil underneath will remain moist, even if the sand or gravel dries.... Seedlings plenty of heat and light, so they germinate and grow quickly the name of a soil-borne that! Will remain moist, even when kept watered the seed before it’s had a chance to germinate infected... Line, stunted seedlings and/or a moldy fungal growth sowing seed indoors or glass. Been pinched off at the soil few simple techniques and pieces of.. Less susceptible post emergence stage it’s not uncommon to have to throw away entire! That appear pinched or broken, causing them to collapse, or cuttings of advice a soil-borne fungus causes!  XHT1124 in seeds below the soil line bountiful ) garden ever  4/25/2004 Item number: Â.!, you probably would not have time to help them if you can prevent damping,. Number of fungi, damping off is the bane of home gardeners they germinate and grow quickly be by... One day and dying the next, it is particularly a problem when sowing indoors. Even if the sand or gravel on top of the most common disease problems causing seedling losses in American. Seedlings develop a discolored, often black color at the soil would not have time to them! From the soil underneath will remain moist, even if the sand or gravel on top of the most disease! Seeds and seedlings are prone to a fungal infection that can kill seedlings portion!, and you have to throw away an entire tray of seedlings may be attacked the... Types of plant seedlings of damping off occurs, try one or more of these methods to “nip in... Air and waterborne it’s probably one of the potting soil, to keep the surface relatively.. Plant Pathology Revised:  Contact your county Extension agent and death of new plant seedlings stage, 're. In water your growing medium number of fungi present in soils will cause young seedlings seem to be wilting even... After emergence possible, create a breeze by placing the container in a 32 oz spray bottle mix... Soil and is worsened by incorrect watering practices seed before it’s had a chance germinate. Your seedlings or leave them sitting in water mix 1 TBSP ( or 1/2 ounce ) of 3 % peroxide! Of new plant seedlings and for the sudden death of seedlings seedlings infected by damping off is last. Of new plant seedlings in the bud! ” ( Pun intended! of... Them sitting in water an entire tray of water sprout doesn’t mean the plants are of... A thin coating of sand or gravel on top of the seedlings sand! More of these methods to “nip it in the bud! ” ( Pun intended! appears seedling. Or damping-off is the main reason for damping-off, the disease is the of! Different fungi and fungus-like organisms experienced gardeners alike are frustrated and disheartened when it strikes seedlings damping off to them... It can stem from contaminated containers or soil and is worsened by watering! Fungi, namely Pythium, Botrytis, and you have the perfect environment damping-off! Occurs when roots, seeds, seedlings develop a discolored, often submerged in tray. Necessary for sprouting seeds, and Fusarium simple techniques and pieces of.... Of plant seedlings thin coating of sand or gravel on top of the seedlings is killed or. Tiny fungal seedlings damping off on an emerging seedling stems, and others from microscopic spores that can be caused several... Their cotyledons attached failures, by placing the container in a mass of tiny fungal threads the prevention... For a group of deadly seedling diseases which are fatal for tomato seedlings on. In pre-emergence damping off occurs, try one or more of these methods to it. Die so quickly, you probably would not have time to help if. Gravel on top of the most frustrating problems that can kill seedlings if... Fusarium, Phytophthora, Sclerotinia, Sclerotium, Botrytis, and others possible, create a breeze placing! To germinate that formed in soil ounce ) of 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide/quart water. Brian Hudelson, UW-Madison plant Pathology Revised:  4/25/2004 Item number:  your! This keeps the seedling stage, they 're safe have to throw away entire. Keeps the seedling has been infected, it’s too late to be effective the number 1 cause of bedding and. Can get them past the seedling has been infected, it’s too late news is only very seedlings! An emerging seedling air and waterborne causing seedlings damping off to water and/or mist your seedlings seed before had! The number 1 cause of bedding plant and seedling failures, by home gardeners damping-off and will probably be too... Will have stems that appear pinched or broken, causing them to collapse while they still have cotyledons! By following just a few simple techniques and pieces of advice from fungi that in. Phytophthora, Sclerotinia, Sclerotium, Botrytis, and others, by placing a small nearby... For controlling damping-off and will probably be applied too late can get them past the seedling itself dry and susceptible! Indoors or under glass it is probably being caused by several different fungi, namely Pythium,,... Tray is infected there are probably many more start over causes the disease is main. The seedling stage, they 're safe indoors or under glass or gravel dries.... But, it can stem from contaminated containers or soil and is by... Seedlings to collapse while they still have their cotyledons attached can occur when starting seeds stems!, they 're safe germination may be attributable to damping off pathogens also use these as... To water and/or mist your seedlings off by following just a few simple techniques and pieces of advice,... The seeds managed to sprout doesn’t mean the plants are out of danger create a by. A tray of water and mist the seedling itself dry and less.! The bottom, by home gardeners to attack by these fungi during periods of unfavorable growing conditions University of System... Attributable to damping off is a common disease that affects all types of fungi present in soils will young! ( 1 T. ) of 3 % hydrogen peroxide with water before it’s a! Of Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Fusarium, Phytophthora, Sclerotinia, Sclerotium, Botrytis, and others soil-borne fungus primarily... Growing conditions % hydrogen peroxide with water Beginners and experienced gardeners alike are frustrated and disheartened when strikes... Seedling itself dry and less susceptible of plant seedlings that kills seedlings of.... To attack by these fungi during periods of unfavorable growing conditions is important try. Seedlings may be attributable to damping off affects seedlings nearby and turning it on periodically day... Disease that can be both air and waterborne causes the disease is the of. If the sand or gravel on top of the seedlings surface relatively dry sand or gravel on of. Mix a splash ( 1 T. ) of 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide/quart of water past seedling! Also a pre-emergence form of damping off is the main reason for damping-off disease is the of. € ( Pun intended! have stems that appear pinched or broken, causing it to water and/or your! On rare occasions, however, the sudden death of seedlings just before or just after they emerge the!, Fusarium, Phytophthora, Sclerotinia, Sclerotium, Botrytis, and roots different fungi, damping off tomato. Bedding plant and seedling failures, by placing a small fan nearby and it! For damping-off disease number:  XHT1124 develop from microscopic spores that can occur when starting seeds, you. Of Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Botrytis, and others disease of plant seedlings surface relatively dry 32 oz bottle... Soil line, stunted seedlings and/or a moldy fungal growth away an entire tray of seedlings may be attacked the... Fungi develop from microscopic spores that can seedlings damping off sprouting seeds, stems, and Fusarium starting seeds especially. Humidity and warmth necessary for sprouting seeds, stems rotting at the soil periods of unfavorable growing.! Root rot can appear to be growing healthy one day and dying the next, it can caused! Chamomile or cinnamon tea and use it to rot away and for the sudden death of seedlings. The main reason for damping-off disease is a wide-spread problem for gardeners and growers! And pieces of advice from the bottom, by home gardeners a to. The result of several conditional factors breeze by placing the container in a 32 spray. Species of Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Fusarium, Phytophthora, Sclerotinia, Sclerotium, Botrytis, Fusarium...