Soft Rot in Seedlings

19 Sep

Okay, here’s a disgusting topic…soft rot in seedlings. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I hate using plastic pots for seedlings because seedlings require quite a bit of moisture, but the plastic pots don’t dry out as quickly as clay pots and with the frequent misting…you get the picture.

So here’s my confession:  I think my large pot of 100+ Dorotheae seedlings, including my ‘Zorro’ cultivars, is experiencing a soft rot problem. This is devastating! I have been going on and on and on for the past year about how ‘Zorro’ is my crème de la crème of Lithops cultivar and I was so excited to finally secure some seeds (which I literally fought for) and now what?

Okay, lesson learned, don’t sow all your seeds in one pot, but what recourse do I have to remedy this situation and salvage as many seedlings as I can? The situation is actually pretty dire. I’ve been losing seedlings from that pot at an alarming rate for the past couple months and now…okay, deep breath…now, there is a smell. Ewwww…I know 😦

So…I have three cotyledons that have renewed their leaves and seem to be doing okay. Do I remove them from the pot and place them in fresh media with the hopes they will establish themselves and be free from bacteria or fungus or whatever else may be causing my problems? Do I leave them and hope for the best? I really truly hoped to leave all of my 2014 seedlings in their original pots for two years before sorting and replanting. Is that still possible or am I about to lose them all and if so, is re-potting my only chance of saving *some*? Can I transplant the three and then, if later on others renew their leaves and seem to be doing okay, can I transplant them to the “rescue pot” also or would that risk contamination???  Desperate times call for desperate measures…is that mantra of the day?


P.S.  I didn’t lose ONE seedling in 2013 to rot.  Clearly, I am regressing as a Lithops grower  😥


Posted by on September 19, 2014 in Seedlings


4 responses to “Soft Rot in Seedlings

  1. silliously

    September 19, 2014 at 4:44 am

    Would fungicides help? I’ve never been successful at growing Lithops from seeds and I’ve sowed so manyyy 😦 They all either rot or dry out. It’s really difficult! I hope you find a solution and have much better luck than me. 🙂

  2. bonseyes

    September 19, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    While I’m generally hesitant to use chemicals of any kind, I think a fungicide would be warranted in this case. I’d like to buy Chinosol but I have no idea where to find it here in Canada.

  3. Bob Stewart

    September 24, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Losing lithops seedlings is a sad drama nearly all lithops seed growers go through, especially in the early stages of their adventures. I sounds like the sowing medium was too wet. The death of seedlings like this is called “damping off” and is caused by one or more fungi. Unfortunately, the warm and moist conditions favorable for seed germination is also favorable for several of these “damping off fungi.

    When seedlings begin to die off the first thing to try is increasing air circulation and allowing the germination medium to dry out a bit. Some growers also use fungicides but if you are reluctant to use chemicals you could try dusting the germination medium with cinnamon. The spice cinnamon has demonstrated some fungicidal properties and seems to help. If I notice a loss of some of my lithops seedlings and the surface of the germination medium looks too wet I will sprinkle a thin layer of coarse sand on the surface around the seedlings. This helps dry out the area right at the base of the seedlings where the fungi seem to strike first.

    As a preventative you could use a different germination medium. Sphagnum peat moss is a commonly used component in seed growing media and inhibits many types of fungi, including those that cause damping off. A mix of 50 percent sphagnum peat and 50 percent perlite or coarse sand can be used. It’s all about providing enough moisture for germination yet not enough for the growth of fungi. In general the seed germination media should be damp to the touch but never wet enough for water to drip from the drainage holes when the pot is slightly tipped at an angle. You want to try an achieve the moisture level similar to a damp sponge. You can feel the moisture but you can’t squeeze out any liquid water.

    The lithops seeds need moisture to germinate, but they don’t need much. Its always sad to lose seedlings that are just beginning their lives, but it happens to all of us at one time or another. As you mention, it might be a good idea to divide 100 seed lots in four 25 lots and work with that for a while as you develop your seed sowing procedures. I hope you manage to save a few seedlings but there’s always more seed to keep trying. Fingers crossed for your future sowings.

  4. bonseyes

    September 25, 2014 at 1:15 am

    It is very sad Bob. The cinnamon is a great trick! I’m going to try that, thank-you! I agree they are just staying too wet. I did, however, increase the air flow and haven’t lost any more seedlings in the past few days. I currently have three strong seedlings that have renewed their leaves and maybe 30 more cotyledons, but yes, i have more seeds on the way. I wasn’t lucky enough to find ‘Zorro’ seeds though. Hopefully I get a nice a specimen from the current batch.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: