The Q&A Archives: Sterilizing Seed Starting Containers

Question: I have an old mini greenhouse starter system and I am getting wilted newly sprouted seeds. How do I sterilize without hurting the felt-like mat and plastic w/ bleach? Should I soak them and if so how long?

Answer: Good idea! It definitely sounds like you have damping off and you are on the right track. I sterilize my seed flats with a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. I don't soak them at all, I simply fill up the sink or a large basin with the solution, dip them in and out a few times and allow to air dry. I follow the same procedure with the mat you are talking about and haven't had any problems (one turned gray after this procedure but it still worked just fine). Don't forget to alsouse a sterile soilless mix and be sure not to overwater. Remember also, good air circulation is a must.

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