Canna seedlings dying - Fungus - How to safely transplant?

kelli08April 15, 2014

I had 63 surviving / thriving canna seedlings growing in two flats. That number has dropped to 58. I've done everything to keep fungus and mold from growing in the starter soil, but it seems to have failed.

How do I safely handle the survivors for transplant? I need to do this within the next day or so, before I lose more.

Thank you in advance!

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You have made a good effort to get your canna seeds to germinate and I would like to make a few points for consideration. Your germinations rate might be somewhat lower than you wish but germination rates can vary considerably often due to the seed parent variety; the fertilization process; growing environment; pathogens; etc. We attempt to control as many as possible. Keep in mind that many pathogens are air borne as well as soil borne. In other words, we typically do not grow in a sterile environment. The most critical criteria are adequate seed scarfing.

Disease can often occur after germination due to excessive humidity or soggy soils; moderate air flow and abundant light will be beneficial.

In your earlier thread you described scarfing your canna seed by shaking in a sandpaper lined jar and then notching with a knife. The sandpaper jar is one I have never heard of and though it might work for some kinds of seed I believe there are much simpler solutions for cannas. I do believe you certainly polished the seed well. Doing one seed at a time, hold it with your pliers and vigorously scratch it on a piece of course sandpaper until you see a small section of the white inner core of the seed. No need to knick, clip or whatever. The job is complete: move on to soaking your seed. All we are trying to do is allow water to penetrate the hard outer shell. A healthy seed will do the rest.

By the way, the emergence of the root from the seed makes for completed germination as the canna plant will grow up toward the light from the root portion as it grows down. It was not stuck as you suggested. Do not detach the remaining seed from the seedling as it provides initial nutrients for your seedling.

Once your seedling has established a decent number of feeder roots (7 to 10 days) you can gently transplant to individual containers. I would suggest you never use sterilized soil for growing as most fertilizers or nutrients need to be broken down by the soil bacteria to become readily available for the plant to utilize. Place in a good sunny location and keep the soil moist.

Remember that mother nature works to eliminate the weak to ensure the survival of the fit; you should always be willing to accept this fact when dealing with plant seedlings. Some of your seedlings will likely not survive.



    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:50PM
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Wow, Kent!

Thank you so much for your comment, and the time you took to break the process down. Great philosophy about nature's way of weeding out the healthy ones.

I've saved your response on file for next season also.

They all actually look beautiful today, and I'll be following the steps you've given.

Just an fyi - The sandpaper in the jar did absolutely nothing... zilch. It was a 'brilliant' idea I came up with, and it fell flat.

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:28PM
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sherylgallant(Kelowna, BC z6)

The "damping off" fungus that often kills seedlings can be somewhat controlled with peroxide sprayed on the soil. It's not perfect but it will cut down on the number of seedling deaths.

Sounds great! I love starting cannas from seed and seeing what you get! I got some great ones this year!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 6:53PM
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