Herb Seedlings Look Sick - Knowledgebase Question

Nashua, NH
Question by supriyagor
May 12, 1999
I have planted oregano, mint and chives seeds in a long rectangular container, but now that they are sprouted and 1" to 2 " high, they are flat and look sick. Should I keep them?


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Answer from NGA
May 12, 1999

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When you say the seedlings are flat, I assume you mean they tipped over onto the soil If your seedlings started out okay and then fell over, it could mean overwatering or a fungal disease called damping off. It quickly spreads through the flats killing the young seedling by causing the stems to rot. It occurs when a non-sterile medium is used for seed starting, containers used for seed starting are not sterile, seeds are sown too deeply, or seeds become too moist. Damping off will cause germination to not occur or may kill tiny seedlings. Always start new seeds in sterilized flats with commercially prepared seed-starting mix and keep the soil moist but not soggy wet. Unfortunately, you may need to start over.

I would also like to mention that mint roots are extremely invasive. Once they take hold, they can overwhelm nearby plants. I suggest planting mint in a pot by itself. And, chives generally like more water than oregano, so it's sometimes difficult to monitor their water needs in one pot. Good luck with your herbs!

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