Jill Jesiolowski Cebenko discusses starting seed indoors and what you need to know about preventing seed fungus problems when planting seeds.
Learning about preventing seed fungus problems is important when starting seed indoors for early blooms and cropping.
Seedlings that wilt and die almost overnight, or seeds that never sprout, probably were killed by "damping off" disease. This pesky disease is caused by fungi that attack when the soil is kept too wet or seedlings are stressed by low light levels. To reduce damping off problems, keep your seedlings close to the lights and take good care not to over-water. For added protection, cover your seeds with milled sphagnum moss. Researchers with the University of California have found that this sphagnum moss contains bacteria which compete with the harmful fungus and also secrete an antibiotic compound that prevents growth of the fungus. This light-colored milled sphagnum moss is not the same as dark brown peat moss; it's sold in small bags, under the brand name "NoDampOff Seed Starter." (Ask your local garden center to carry the NoDampOff product, or contact the manufacturer at Mosser Lee.)