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Pests & Diseases > Damping off

Photo by Anne Tanne, courtesy of Creative Commons

Seedlings are wilting, look weak and are falling over at the base.


Damping off is a fungal disease of seedlings. Pathogens present in the soil and water girdles the plant’s stem where it enters the soil, causing the plant to topple over. A soft decay of the taproot or rootlets causes collapse of the seedlings. Wet soil conditions stimulate pathogens. Very young or poorly growing seedlings are more prone to infection, whereas rapidly growing, vigorous plants often escape infection.


If you follow hygiene practices carefully and avoid overwatering.


By the time you identify the problem, treatment is usually too late. If there is any sign of seedlings wilting or going rotten, use a fungicide (available at your local gardening shop) and immediately spray all the seedlings. Separate unhealthy seedlings immediately. If you do not treat this promptly the fungus can quickly spread, causing the death of all your seedlings.