I recently planted some sunflower seedlings and they have been doing fairly well. The only problem I had noticed was that the tips of the leaves were slightly burnt, but even then, the burns weren't spreading and the plants seemed to be doing fine. In the past couple of days, however; the stem of one of the seedlings became shriveled mid way up the stem. The strange part is that the base of the stem is fine, and the top of the stem too is fine.

I have no idea what is wrong with it. My only guess is that the soil is too basic.

the stem

the whole plant


I had been careful not to destrub the stem for a while, and I have it less sun and somehow it has survived and is now nearly completely healed! Healed Stem Thank you all for you helpful advice!

  • Almost looks like the stem has been chewed? Any chance that's correct?
    – GardenerJ
    Apr 3, 2016 at 20:49
  • @GardenerJ Its possible because I put the pot outside on the weekends so that it can get some extra sun, but it looks like the stem more dried out than was eaten. You may be right though; I'm certaintly not a plant expert. Apr 3, 2016 at 21:01
  • Quick clarification - did you plant the seeds where they are currently? Or did you start the seeds in a container and transplant the little seedlings?
    – michelle
    Apr 4, 2016 at 13:23
  • @michelle I planted them where they are currently. Apr 4, 2016 at 13:24

2 Answers 2


Most likely sun scorch on the leaf tips, because they may not be used to all the sun light if you do not. As for the stem, it is a fungal dry rot. The soil is too wet and it looks like there is mold growing around it.

  • Do you know how I may prevent it from happening to the other plants? Apr 4, 2016 at 21:16
  • Do not water the plants so much, and remove the plant with the soil so it does not spread. Also try to get more air movement.
    – Ljk2000
    Apr 4, 2016 at 21:26
  • I would also consider watering from below - either place the pot onto a saucer and water into that, or occasionally place the pot into a bucket, wait until air bubbles stop rising and then remove. In both cases allow the excess water to drain away, before returning to their usual spot.
    – user13638
    Apr 5, 2016 at 6:47
  • Would it be worth it for Morella to clean the mold off that soil, or mix in some new dry, clean soil? I don't know about these things specifically, just wondering if that might help. Apr 7, 2016 at 15:00
  • Yes, I would clean off the the mold and replace with new, dry soil. Unless he/she wants the mold to keep spreading and destroying everything else, worth the work very much so.
    – Ljk2000
    Apr 7, 2016 at 15:06

It could be damping off disease (e.g. from pythium) or cutworm damage. I've seen tomatoes damaged like that. It kind of looks chewed.

A lot of people think they're harmless, but I also tend to think pill bugs may do that sort of thing, too (in the morning).

Mice, rats, and such are another possibility, but I don't know.

If it's indoors, it's probably damping off or something else altogether, though.

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