Repotting Basil Seedlings
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Joanne Bancroft
Posted on: February 02, 2005

I started growing some basil from seed in a little pot and have recently repotted the seedlings into another larger pot to give it more room to grow. Though I have tried to repot it carefully, after a little while the leaves have started to wilt and am worried that I won’t be able to save them. I carefully repotted the seedlings with care but think I’m doing something wrong. What can I do to keep it from dying, I’m determined to save them.

Before you even try to find out what went wrong, pop the pot or pots of seedlings into a clean clear plastic bag close it and put it in a bright spot out of direct sunlight. This will increase the humidity around the plants and help them cope with the dehydration that is taking place for whatever reason.

Some of the things that could have gone wrong are: If you handled the seedlings by their stems rather than by their leaves only, even slight pressure could have damaged the stems - maybe irreparably. The only hope there is that the break occurred high enough on the stem so that the plant can make new shoots from below the break.

The seedlings could have had very few roots as yet and handling them tore them or kinked them and now the plant has too little water uptake capability to keep up with evaporation from the leaves and is wilting. Time spent in the plastic bag will eventually cure this.

Ther could have been a wilt fungus just waiting to attack your seedlings and the slight damage done by even careful handling gave the spores an entry point and they are killing the plants. Check the bases of the plants to see if there is a brown or black ring indicating that a damp-off fungus has killed all the vessels at the base of the plant and the plant is just drying off because water cannot get past the ring of dead tissue. In this case, the plastic bag stops the infection from spreading everywhere and you can try again, using pasteurized soil, sterilized pots and fresh seed. Consolation: basil germinates very quickly and if given enough heat and sun, also grows very quickly!

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