The Q&A Archives: Damping Off

Question: Besides using soilless seed starter is there a fungicide that I can use on seeds before sowing to prevent damping off?

Answer: Here are a few tips to minimize the likelihood of damping off. Since the fungus enters the plant at the soil line you can try to make an inhospitable environment for the fungus. When the seeds are planted, but before they germinate, cover the soil with a fine layer of "play sand" (this is sand that has been sterilized; you should be able to find it at a hardware store or lumberyard). This provides a sterile, dry -- and therefore unfavorable to the fungus -- surface at the point it usually entersthe stem. Provide good, very good, air circulation (a fan blowing gently in the room--but not directly on plants--is one way), and be sure not to overwater. Another trick is to hold off on fertilizing the seedlings until their second set of leaves appear. <br><br>If you use a sterile medium, sterilize your pots before planting with a 10 percent bleach solution, and follow the above steps, you should not need to apply a fungicide.

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