Daylilies forum: What is "damping off"

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Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
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Scatterbrain
Sep 30, 2017 11:39 AM CST
Hi everyone,

I keep reading about damping off in seedlings and wondered how you would recognise and avoid it.

It is particularly relevant to me as we are having such very wet weather here this year. I have set up a rain cover but is there anything else I can do to try and avoid it?

I have shown the cover below, I only put it on when wet but that is most days this year. I leave the sides open to allow air in but will there be enough air and light, do you think?


I could move them into the cat run but there is less light there as it has a solid roof to give the cats shade in summer.
Thumb of 2017-09-30/Scatterbrain/b9688d


Thumb of 2017-09-30/Scatterbrain/87fd00

Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Sep 30, 2017 12:30 PM CST
There's a decent bit about 'damping off' on Wikipedia. Good air circulation helps. I've been known to set out an oscillating fan aimed at sprouting seeds if they are germinating under indoor conditions. For me, I've never experienced any damping off under seeds germinating outdoors, but my conditions here would be much different than yours. I would expect under the right conditions it could occur outdoors as well. In my experience, only really young seedlings suffer from it and it kills them quickly. Once a seedling has a bit of growth on it after a couple of weeks, it seems to acquire immunity. But that's only my experience. The wiki article lists multiple pathogens that all cause the result called 'damping off' and different pathogens might have different effects, and I surely have not experienced all the listed pathogens in seeds I've sprouted.
Donald
Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
Dog Lover Cat Lover Rabbit Keeper Container Gardener
Scatterbrain
Sep 30, 2017 12:37 PM CST
Thanks Donald,
Do you think the seeds will get enough air and light under the cover if I leave the sides loose?
Name: Daniel Erdy
Catawba SC (Zone 7b)
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ediblelandscapingsc
Sep 30, 2017 7:10 PM CST
when do you experience your first frost? You may not need the mini greenhouse. Our first frost is in mid November and I'm still sprouting seeds. I did the same thing last year and didn't loose any seedlings overwinter and they where left unprotected.
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Sep 30, 2017 8:07 PM CST
I don't know Nikki. There are so many pathogens that result in 'damping off', the kind I see here in Texas may be completely different than one in your location. I think good air circulation would apply to all the pathogens since 'damping off' seems to like damp, still locations. I'm not so sure about temperature because I've had it when the conditions were both warm and cool. Just as I'm not sure all seedlings can 'outgrow' being susceptible. Others may have more insight on that. Sterile planting medium, good air circulation and a surface that's slightly on the dry side help when growing seedlings. Too damp and no circulation are risky in my experience regardless of the temperature.
Donald
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Oct 1, 2017 6:33 AM CST
The temperature influences which of the several fungal pathogens might be the problem. You want the seedlings to be growing well to get past the stage at which they are vulnerable (Donald is right that they grow past the damping off stage so you want them to get to that stage as fast as possible but without pushing them too hard).

Always use cleaned or new containers, new seed starting mix (not a bag that has been kicking around open for some time), don't overwater, don't overfertilize (needs are minimal for the first few weeks), keep the temperatures conducive to growth, don't crowd seedlings, maintain good air circulation, give them enough light. I know someone is going to say that they break those rules and have no problem, but then other people repeatedly have problems with damping off and end up using fungicides......

[Last edited by sooby - Oct 1, 2017 6:36 AM (+)]
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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
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beckygardener
Oct 1, 2017 6:52 AM CST
When first planting and germinating seeds, I add a couple drops of hydogen peroxide to the watering can and stir before watering the newly planted seeds as well as after they germinate until they have 4 leaves. The hydogen peroxide helps prevent damping off here. I try not to over water also as the pathogens thrive best in soggy potting soil.
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[Last edited by beckygardener - Oct 1, 2017 8:46 AM (+)]
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Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
Dog Lover Cat Lover Rabbit Keeper Container Gardener
Scatterbrain
Oct 1, 2017 7:26 AM CST
Thanks guys for all your input and advice,

I think that I will just have to hope for the best--there's not too much I can do about the weather after all.

It has been such an odd year, I read somewhere that this summer, this part of Yorkshire has had 180% average rainfall, and as average rainfall is already high we are soaking, and the air is just so STILL, we often have pretty strong winds about now. We have had so little sunshine this year I have had to have my vitamin D dosage increased as my bones are bending. Sad

As regards frosts, we generally have them from late October but we actually had our first frost two weeks ago!

However, nature often surprises us and at least any seedlings that make it I know are hardy! Smiling
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Oct 1, 2017 7:50 AM CST
Just to add to clarify - damping is mostly a problem of seedlings indoors rather than outdoors.
Name: Nikki
Yorkshire, UK (Zone 8a)
LA name-Maelstrom
Dog Lover Cat Lover Rabbit Keeper Container Gardener
Scatterbrain
Oct 1, 2017 9:15 AM CST
sooby said:Just to add to clarify - damping is mostly a problem of seedlings indoors rather than outdoors.


Thanks, Sue,

I was just worried as the weather is so very wet and the air so still here right now.

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