The Q&A Archives: Seedlings that Wilt

Date: October 26, 1997

Question: This is my first attempt to grow plants from seed and I thought I was doing everything correct, planted in a soilless mix, etc. The seedlings came up great, however, now that they're up some of them are simply wilting and dying off. I put them into the sun when the wind isn't too strong for them and keep them inside if it is. I do have a tendency to over-water, so I have been cautious of that lately. Could the wind be making their stems weak, is this a symptom of overwatering? I don't know what to do. Thank you. Joyce Alsobrook Edmond, OK

Answer: It sounds like you already know what's happening to your seedlings. Too much water encourages a fungal disease called damping off. It spreads quickly through the flats killing the young seedling by causing the stems to rot. The sun and wind also stresses the young seedlings, especially if have are suddenly put outside after growing indoors their whole life. I'd cut back on watering and keep the seedling indoors until one week before you're ready to put them out premanently. Then gradually place the plants outside starting one hour the first day and increasing it each day until by the end of the week, they can stay outside al day long. Start by putting them in a partly shady area, out of the wind.

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