Help!!!! Herb Seedlings are Keeling Over
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Betty Hanners
Posted on: February 21, 2007

We started an indoor herb garden from seeds. Thyme, Basil, Cilantro and Parsley.

The Cilantro instructions said 21-25 days to germinate, we saw sprouts in 8, they took right off, now all of asudden at about 5 inches high they are falling over and dying. Why?

We use a mister to water.

The others have sprouted and are growing slowly, but seem to have stopped at about an inch tall.

They sit in front of a window, south view I believe.

Can you help us so they don’t die?

This problem sounds like damp-off. This is a fungal disease which can be caused by several different organisms, but the most common ones are carried by water and attack seedlings at ground level. A ring of tissue is killed by these organisms at ground level and the plant can no longer transport anything in the stem and just keels over.

After infection has taken place, it is usually futile to do anything. If it is warm enough outside, you could put the whole contents of the pot in the soil outside and trust that beneficial fungi present in outside soil will take care of the nasty water fungi and some of your seedlings might survive.

Always use pasteurized soil or better yet, a soil-less medium to grow seedlings and make sure all equipment is sterilized as well. I like to use Pro-Mix, wet it with boiling water and when a bit cooler move the soil into sterile pots and sow the seeds in that. Since your environment has water fungi in it, it might be a good idea to water with "no-damp" or something similar, so that any spores landing in your pots cannot get a foot-hold.

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