What Is Damping-Off And How To Prevent It

Published :
Categories : Other subjects

What Is Damping-Off And How To Prevent It

Damping-off is a condition wherein fungi are the root cause. This occurrence inhibits proper nutrient transportation, leading to weak and wilting plants. Here's how to prevent it from killing your crop.

Growing cannabis may seem like an easy feat, but there are indeed many potential challenges that line the path to harvest. This includes everything from failed germination to nutrient burn and everything in between. Another challenge to be aware of is known as “damping-off”, and it can occur very early on in the journey.

Damping-off is a phenomenon that occurs due to fungal invaders taking root within the soil. The presence of fungi can inhibit plants from taking in and moving nutrients up the plant towards the leaves. This process eventually damages the integrity of the stem, causing the plant to topple over and buckle back into the soil from whence it came.

Damping-off is a common occurrence in seedlings, and it is a particularly disheartening sight to see progress end before it really started.


It’s quite easy to identify that your seedling is damping-off, with the symptoms being rather apparent. The seedling itself will start to display discolouration, sporting shades of yellow and brown on anatomical structures such as the stem, along with lesions.

The stem, one of the main components of support for the seedling, will being to soften and buckle under the seedling’s own weight. An overall weak and wilting look will also take hold. Leaves will begin to atrophy.

As far as treatment goes, there are little-to-no options available. Once damping-off has set in, and set in heavily, the plant is pretty much a write-off.

The next port of call is to take preventative measures to both stop the spread to other plants within the vicinity, and to stop such an occurrence from unfolding again later down the line. View the happening as a lesson as opposed to a mistake. And remember the old adage, prevention is always better than a cure.


Fungi is at the root cause of damping-off, so it would make perfect sense to assess the situation with that in mind. Species of fungi that are associated with damping-off inhabit the soil and both survive and thrive within humid and damp environments. So one key here is not to provide a home for these unwanted guests.

Typically, novice growers will give their plants far too much water than they actually need, turning an act of perceived love and care into a breeding ground for ill health. In order to prevent excess dampness and humidity around the base of a crop, only give the plant the necessary amount of water.

As a rule of thumb, wait for the top layer of soil to be completely dry until you water your plants again. If there is still moisture in the soil, then your plant has something to drink.

Another means of keeping your soil relatively dry is to ensure adequate drainage. Lack of drainage will cause water to pool, increasing dampness and levels of humidity. Adding perlite or vermiculite into your soil mix will support adequate airflow and water drainage.

Where and how you choose to start your seeds can also have an impact upon the prevention of damping-off.

Elect to use a sterile medium with a high drainage capacity, as opposed to unsterilised soil from the garden. This will give your seedling the best chance of starting off in life, minimising the risk of external threats and eliminating the risk of water pooling.

If you believe your seedling is at high risk of damping-off, then avoid the use of humidity domes and incubators, which will ramp up humidity levels and offer a prime fungal habitat.