why are my seedlings dying

Why are my seedlings dying?

Active Member

I’ve killed three seedlings so far. Basically what happens is the plant looks good for a few days, then falls over and shrivels up.

First of all, could the tap water Ph or ppm be so bad that it’s killing the seedling? I haven’t yet bought a Ph meter (I know, stupid. But I am overwhelmed deciding what kind to buy, any recommendations are welcome).

This last time I let the seed germinate for a couple days. It had cracked a little and the stem was barely showing when I planted it, about half an inch deep in a 50/50 soil/perlite mix. The soil is some very cheap Scotts stuff that has no nutrients, so it shouldn’t be nute burn. Immediately after planting I watered it and put it under 18/6 light cycle.

At first I thought the soil was too hard but that doesn’t seem to be the problem, as this time the soil is quite aerated.

Am I using enough light for a seedling? I have two 27 watt 6500 k daylight bulbs in a y socket, screwed into a metal reflector thingy I bought from home depot. I have this situated such that just one of the bulbs is giving most of the light. the one light is pretty much horizontal and directly over the plant, about an inch and a half away.

Maybe I’m watering wrong? Basically I poured tap water that had sat out for about 48 hours. I poured the water until it started dripping out the bottom of the container. My container is a ziplock plastic food dish with holes drilled in the bottom.

Is it okay to pour some of the water directly on the still-underground seedling when I watered? cause that’s what I did.

Sorry lots of questions, but could somebody give me an idea of what I’m doing wrong?

I've killed three seedlings so far. Basically what happens is the plant looks good for a few days, then falls over and shrivels up. First of all, could…

My seedlings keep dying!!

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006

I don’t get it. My seedlings start fine and then die in a couple of weeks. I am mostly trying to start peppers but have a bunch of other stuff too.
I have a cabinet that I made into a seed starting area. I have two cool florescent lights about 3-6 inches above them that are on for about 15 hrs a day. I have a heater in the bottom to bring the soil up to about 80-85 degrees on top and 70-75 on the bottom. I water with rain water and a 10-52-10 mix to help them start and I use Supersoil for soil. I usually wait to water them till the top gets a little hard but is still wet on the bottom. I have them in the seed starter trays so I just add the water to the bottom and it soaks up.

More on the problem. Lets say my tomatoes, they came up and were doing just fine. I then go in one day and one of 4 is limp and starting to fall over. Then a few days later another. then another. The last one is going limp right now. I also had a pepper that I finally got to grow, and it just died. All about 2-3 weeks from popping up. I have some new peppers that I just started and I don’t want it to happen to them, please help.

Does it look like the stems are rotting at the base? If so, it is caused by the “damping off” fungus. Try watering young seedlings with chamomile tea till they become well established. I mix up 4 cups at a time pouring 4 cups boiling water over 4 tea bags and let it cool to room temperature before watering.

May the force be with you

Hi! Im no expert but just heard about this on the radio. One thing that comes to mind is turning off the heat as soon as the first seedling emerges. The other tip which it sounds like you already follow, is to water when they get a little dry.

I was surprised to hear the advice to turn off the bottom heat as soon as you get a sprout. But it’s worth a try!

You’re not fertilizing two week old seedlings are you? Otherwise it sounds like damping off. Were you using clean trays and fresh mix? Did you have the trays covered?

i would say its damping off also.
the only time i had that problem was when i used rain water!
now i always use tap water for my seedlings, i hold back with the rain water until they get bigger.
also i never feed my seedlings till a week or so after ive transplanted them.

With damping off, the plants tend to rot off at ground level and fall over. It seems like these are actually wilting while they are still standing. Can you clarify this please Brian.
If it is damping off, it’s a fungal problem and can be overcome by adding some condies crystals to water until the water is just slightly pink, then spray the surface with a misting spray.
I only ever feed seedlings with a half strength mix of fish emulsion fertiliser and i start them in a sand/coir/worm casting mix.

The secret is the soil.

The light is also too high. The florescents should be kept no more than 2 inches above the seedlings. Otherwise they are going to stretch and get thin stems that can cause them to fall over also.

and maybe this will help a lil.

I’ve just started some tomato seeds thats sprouted over the last few days.They sit in my kitchen window(east lighting)Humidity is always high in the kitchen.I doubt my soil temp was very high.being its been in the 80s out I’d guess my soils in the 70s.As to pepper seeds.I’ve always sown direct into a pot and keept in sunny spot in yard till sprouted then moved to bright shade.I’ve never been able to get um started indoors so am no help there.I know they never took me 100 days to sprout.I’d guess more 2-3 weeks.(and being I soweed them friday. I’ll count this time)

I will age ungracefully until I become an old woman in a small garden..doing whatever the Hell I want!

OK, so the stems are strong, this rules out damping off. There’s nothing wrong with rainwater, unless you are in a high air pollution area or an acid rain area. I’m thinking fertilizer burn or soil temperature. The wilting is what happens to plants that are getting way too much N. Though the fert you’re using is extremely high in P, so that’s not necessarily the problem. The symptoms would be different. (Thinking out loud here)
My other suggestion is the temperature of the soil and i just did a conversion to celsius (which i use) and it’s pretty damn hot. Like, it’s the temperature of the air at midday in summer. Way too hot for the root system i reckon. Yeah, i’m sold on it. Turn off or turn down the heat and i’m certain your problems will end. BTW, a temp of 15 deg Celsius (60 F)is plenty to germinate the most warmth loving of seeds, like corn and pumpkin, so i don’t reckon you need to have the temp set so high to get that germination rate. Maybe get it down to about max 70 deg F.

The secret is the soil.

My peppers were slower to germinate because my apartment is around 70*F so the soil temp is lower than that but they do germinate and grow to adulthood. I just put them in regular potting soil in a planter and keep the soil moist. Nothing fancy at all and they do fine. It seems like the more care I lavish on a seedling the less chance it has of surviving lol.

What kind of pepper takes 100 days to germinate? I think you’ve been sold a bill of goods. I’d go with a standard potting mix or a custom one like Longy’s, homemade. And get the heat way down, and don’t worry about fertilizing seedlings. And rig a way to move your lights. flourescents won’t burn even if they’re touching, get them as close as possible.

Even my growlights are getting restless!

I did peppers too and mine are finely peeking thro’ after 9 days, I was prepared for this, my instructions said at least 7 – 14 days.

I also used flor. lights but keep the seeds cover with newspaper until they sprout thro’. Using the lights more for heat the first few days.

For this “New Year” help me to be kinder and more loving to all around me, I pray.

I couldn’t agree more! Seeds only need that heat to germinate. once they’ve sprouted, they prefer cooler temps.
I am one that does not save any money with heating bills in the winter. I’m always freezing so that heat is cranked! But the room where I keep my seedlings, I have the vents closed, the window cracked and a fan circulating air at all times.

From The Garden Forum: I don’t get it… My seedlings start fine and then die in a couple of weeks. I am mostly trying to start peppers but have a bunch of other stuff too.I have a cabinet that I made into a seed starting