Damping off prevention

brskovich(z8 OR)March 18, 2003

I've started an experiment on using a thin layer of sand on top of the potting mix to discourage damping off of seedlings.

I rescued a salvia seedling this way last fall so had encouraging preliminary results.

Has anyone else tried this and if so, what did you find ?

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vignewood(z6 CT)

I have never tried sand but I read that sprinkling a little lemon jello powder over the soil will prevent damping off. I tried it this year and so far, so good. Sounds weird but if it works?? why not.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2003 at 10:37PM
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mprats(z6NJ Plainfield)

Martha Stewart claims that she spreads a layer of sand over her seeds to prevent damping off and that it works. It's in her booklet "Growing from seed" or something like that.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2003 at 3:14PM
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I also have heard that a sprinkle of ground cinammon works too.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2003 at 10:55PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I tried dozens of things in side by side experiments back in the '60s. Sand, soil or any dry thing had some benefits. But, in my experiments the best was moss. Take peat or the fine dregs from the bottom of a sack of sphagnum and sift it through a kitchen flour sifter over the surface where the seeds were starting to emerge.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2003 at 1:25PM
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Bev__(z7/8 TX)

I used a very weak chamomile tea this year to water my seedlings and I didn't have any dampening off problems.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2003 at 9:47PM
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I mix 5 ml of drugstore type 3 % hydrogen peroxide to every 95 ml of water that I use to water the seedlings (including the initual watering).

    Bookmark   April 23, 2003 at 4:15PM
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jimax1920(8 SC)

I agree with Bev on the use of Chamomile for dampenin-off disease, and also with Henry in the use of hydrogen peroxide. I have used both with success. These will also help prevent many other diseases. I use the hydrogen peroxide in larger amounts though.

To prevent diseases and insects use 8 oz. of 3% hydrogrn peroxide and 8 oz. of molasses to one gallon of water. I mix the molasses in a small amount of hot water, then add enough water to make a gallon after also adding the hydrogen peroxide. I spray this on all my garden at regular interviles of 7 to 10 days.

The molasses feeds beneficial bacteria that destroys many disease organisms.

Corn meal will also prevent dampening-off. Just sprinkle it over the top of the soil.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2003 at 11:39AM
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trant(z6 NY)

What about watering from the bottom? How does this work exactly? Do I just dip my tray in a shallow pool of water? How long do I let it sit in the water?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2003 at 12:28PM
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Chamomile worked for me pretty well. I always, well, let us say, 95% of the time, water seedlings or plugs from the bottom.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2003 at 12:00AM
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marieb(z3 North Dakota)

I've used chamomile tea since I got my greenhouse and it works quite well. I put about 5 or 6 teabags in a 5 gallon bucket of water the day before I will be using it. I then put the tea/water mixture in a sprayer and mist it on the seedlings until they are past the "age" of getting damping off.

Marie B

    Bookmark   November 4, 2003 at 4:53PM
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Jan_Hobbs(z6a TN, USA)

If you WINTER SOW your seeds...there is NEVER a problem with damping off....it just never happens. You might want to go to that forum and read the FAQ....

    Bookmark   November 15, 2003 at 4:18PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

Back off on the water is cheapest method of controlling damp-off

    Bookmark   December 22, 2003 at 7:14PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Request publication HO-14 from your Co-op. Ext. office. -Sandy

    Bookmark   December 24, 2003 at 7:43AM
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Just passing through, hope you don't mind a visitor posting. I work in a greenhouse and the most important thing with any disease is to not overwater. Byron hit the nail on the head. The surface of the soil should not be wet all of the time. It even gets rid of the little black fungus gnats if you let the soil dry out. The sand has worked well for me also, but I discovered it by accident. I was using the sand to cover up seed, and I noticed the sand is usually dry, unless your soil is sopping wet. It dries out even if the soil is wet. Watering from the bottom would be a good idea too.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2003 at 12:10PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

I am embarrassed. It seems that after being told for the last five years it would be there, it wasn't. At least not without a ridiculous search. I did finally find it with a search on msm for consumer@hort.purdue.edu. choose Purdue gardening publications, choose General horticulture. That should get you a copy of HO14 except this one doesn't seem to have the microwave sterilization info. So, it is, in a sealable container (tupperware, rubbermaid etc.) 1 gallon soilless potting material, 2 cups water on high for 10 minutes. Leave a breathing space so the lid does not blow off from the expanding steam. Keep the cover on until it has cooled. For 1/2 gallon of soil,1 cup water it is 5 minutes on high. Don't use garden soil. You have no idea what is in it. If you have soilless mix that is dried out use this method to rehydrate it.-Sandy

    Bookmark   January 6, 2004 at 3:31AM
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bucks(9 Arizona)

I use a lot of those little seed starters for my tomatoes, and I find that once most of the tomatoes have sprouted, i take the covering off. I then let the dirt dry out somewhat before I start to water the starters again. This has really made a difference.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2004 at 7:17PM
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Hi All
I use sharp sand on all my seeds to cover them but it does not stop damping off
Winter sowing also does not help,just lost some seedling outside in winter sowing.
I put a posting some where that I had success with murphy's
fungicide,a few days later I regreted it,it let me down.sods law.
Back to the old reliable smelly cheshunt compound which has never let me down or am I tempting providence

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 3:38AM
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Hi all
Has any one tried any of the biologicals such as Trichoderma or Bacillus for damping off?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2004 at 4:59PM
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The key here which was touched on by many is to keep the fungus from growing. To do that best if to prevent it in the first place. Dip all your trays, etc in a 1% bleach soln. before you start. Use sterilized planting media and treated seeds. If you are going to use sand be sure it is sterilized too. You should stand a much better chance. Then use all those other concoctions if you must, but a slight mist of Captan soln. over the tray as the seeds are emerging gives you better odds. Sure it's not organic. Don't spray it in your living quarters and let the flats dry before handling.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 11:20AM
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I have had problems with damping off with winter sowing. The use of peat, sand, peroxide, or bleach depends on the seed. Some seeds can be hurt or not thrive in any one of these, whereas others thrive on these treatments. Peat is great & some seeds are less susceptible to damping off in it, but not all seeds can tolerate its acidity. I have used clean, but not sterilized sand & many varieties of seeds have fewer problems with damping off. Some seeds also germinate & thrive without any media. It depends on the seed.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2005 at 8:04AM
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any kind of layer over top will help prevent damping off.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2005 at 12:57PM
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can someone tell me what dampening or damping off is???

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 10:33AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

You are lucky if you have started seeds indoors and have not experienced damping off. Keep doing the same thing.

Damping off is caused by any one of several microscopic fungi which grow on the surface of the soil. Young seedlings are attacked and their stems shrivel at the soil line. They topple over. This usually happens within the first few days after they emerge. It is fatal.

My thinking is that prevention is easier than a cure. Seed starting medium that is infected with spores of the fungus will cause problems. I normally make my own soilless mix. I think my bale of peat moss had become contaminated. This year that mix caused damping off, which I treated with partial success with chamomile tea. I had much greater success by starting over using fresh commercial mix (ProMix BX). The instructions with this mix warn against leaving it open to contamination, so I store it in a sealed container (plastic garbage can) and only moisten enough to use immediately. This sort of mix (Jiffy, Miracle Gro and other brands) has many advantages. I recommend it.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 9:36PM
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wellkid(6/ western NY)

I have not had a problem with damping off since I've followed Eliot Coleman's advice (see "Four-Season Harvest" and "The New Organic Grower"). Rather than use sterilized soil, mix in some live compost so you have a healthy population of soil microbial life, which apparently keeps the damping-off fungus in check. I sometimes get green moss growing on my soil blocks, but no damping off in at least four years now!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 4:57PM
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Baci, can you give a reference for your (apparent) statement that some seeds will not thrive when peroxice is used to prevent damping off?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 10:01PM
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spelling correction - peroxide

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 10:02PM
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rrothman(ZONE 6)

Preventing damping off is simple. It is a fungus disease and can be prevented as we do in surgery, by sterilization. Wash the trays in very hot water. Sterilize the soil in a microwave or oven. Water the seedlings with water that has been through the hot water tank of the house and has cooled. Lastly, let the surface of the soil dry out between the times you water or water sparingly from the bottom.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 7:45AM
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