Present in almost all soils, the various organisms referred to as damping-off fungi can kill seedlings sometimes even before they emerge, and rot potato seed pieces. Healthy seedlings resist infection, though, and plants generally become less vulnerable with age. Over-watering and poor air circulation foster the growth of damping-off fungi, and plants are more susceptible to the disease in wet, poorly drained, cold soils with a high nitrogen content.


Seeds, young plants. 


Seedlings fail to sprout; or they may die soon after emerging. 


Proper drainage, planting, and watering. 


The fresher the seeds, the less likely they are to fall victim to the disease. You may also want to try seeds treated with a fungicide. Plant seeds when the soil temperature favors growth; set them at the right depth, leaving adequate space between seeds. Don’t over-water, and hold off on fertilizing until seedlings have true leaves (not just initial seed leaves). To improve your chances of success, you can start seeds indoors in a sterile planting mix, then transplant the seedlings outdoors. Sanitize your propagation tools, pots, and flats in a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach or rubbing alcohol.

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