Strange seedling death

After potting up a number of seedlings that had sprouted in their bags, I placed the pots outside. Sadly, a number of the seedlings experienced a death similar to damping off–but I’m not sure that is the problem for two reasons:

  1. I used new pots with sterile potting soil.

  2. The place where the stem was shriveled was not at the soil line, but above the soil line and somewhat below the cotyledons.

I am in the PNW and we have had rain keeping the pots wet (surprise!). Also I sprayed lightly with a malathion/lime-sulfur mix while spraying established plants.

Can anyone give me a clue as to what has been happening and what might be done to avoid having it happen again? I’m wondering if the tiny plants could have experienced sunburn, windburn, or chemical burn, or . . . .

If you pot up germinated seeds right out of the bags and place them outdoors, they will often die within 48 hours from dessication. You can’t take a tender seedling from a 100% humidity environment into a much less humid one and not have problems. Next time, shelter the seedlings with plastic to keep the humidity up for a few days and gradually allow more air to enter.

Thanks for that, Paul. That may well be what happened. And with the mix of sun and rain that we have had over the last few days, it definitely seems like the seedlings could have gotten too dessicated even though the soil is plenty moist.

I agree with what Paul said, but I also want to note, when I first put out seedlings, I put them where they get shade most of the day and over a week move them out to where they get more sun. Ususally I never give them full all day sun until planted out as plants in small pots can dry out so fast.

Now, there’s many things about my house that are far from perfect, but I have this porch/deck on my house, that is on the north side of that part of the house, is 8 ft wide and has a 4 foot overhang over it. It’s great for hardening off/holding plants out for planting.

Robert you didn’t indicate what your outside placement was like.


Good point, Christopher. I put the seedlings where they get afternoon sun–probably the worst exposure for tender plants. The sun here has not been hot, but it is probably too much for seedlings. Thanks for the great input!