I had planted a grow-bag full of coriander seeds and they grew into plants with no problem. I planted some more seeds in another larger, wider pot, and after germination, a small clump of seedlings in a 2 sq cm area were suddenly flat on the ground one day. I figured a cat or bird must've stomped it. Next day another clump of seedlings were flat. And so on until everyday a few more were getting flattened. I've been watering them every morning and evening, with just enough water to moisten all the soil. They are getting a good amount of sunlight too. On examining the flattened seedlings, I noticed that the portion of the stem that just emerges from the soil, appeared to be a bit squeezed, as compared to the rest of the stem, so I assumed it could be due to there not being enough water and the soil drying up. But even pouring more water didn't help, as today few more of them are flat on the ground. It's happening only in this flower pot, and it's the same soil I've used in the other grow-bag.

enter image description here

I've seen this answer and etiolation, but since some of the coriander seedlings are growing fine and some aren't, I thought I'd ask.

Update Nov 2019: All the coriander plants eventually died. Now a year later, even garlic plants are dying off. They grew fine for a few months and now all are listing and withering off. The curry leaf plant in the middle seems ok. There are black ants that used to use the bottom area of the pot as a storage location for their eggs, and they seem to have created their nest in the mud in the pot. I wonder if the nest building of the ants is creating some air pockets and introducing fungal infection or something.
enter image description here


That looks like one of a number of soil-borne fungal diseases that are collectively known as "damping off". There's no cure that I know of - it's best to avoid it by using sterilized soil-less mix in your pots. Having good air circulation while the seedlings are vulnerable is also a good idea, as is consistent watering.

Pot size can also be a factor. Your pot is way too large for the seedlings, in my opinion. Too much soil/soil-less mix holds too much water and promotes a damp, usually cold environment, which just happens to be another thing damping off likes. I use either 20cm x 12cm x 3cm trays or 48-cell or 72-cell trays. Once the plants fill the cells I transplant them to larger containers.

| improve this answer | |
  • After posting the photo I noticed a Lymantria dispar dispar worm on the top left corner and killed it immediately. Was wondering if that might have been the problem. But an apple sapling in the same pot started having leaf curl, so it might be a fungal problem like u said. Not very convinced though. – Nav Nov 25 '18 at 16:32

One thing to keep in mind in this situation is sowing in loose soil. If we look closely at the seedlings in the lower left quadrant of the posted image we can see that there is almost a centimetre of light tissue between the growing point and the soil surface. One way this can happen is if the soil is overly loose when we add seeds. The seeds germinate and start needing more water. As we top water, the loose soil starts to settle down and as it does so it goes to the bottom of the pot and around the lower roots, leaving the growing point stuck up in the air. Roots are not designed to have structural strength and so the plant flops over. Plants may recover but have suffered a setback.

So it comes down to how much we tamp down the soil when we sow, when and how we irrigate, how deeply we sow and how long germination takes. If germination takes a long time, by the time it happens perhaps the soil has settled. Sometimes ebb and flood irrigation, through the holes in the bottom of the pot, keeps more fluff in the surface medium. If they are up and away fast and then their pants fall down they are left feeling a bit awkward.

In this case it looks like the coriander seed was sown in regular garden soil, somewhat clayey, which can be lumpy and clumpy, settling irregularly, leaving fragile roots exposed.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks Colin. Loose soil was what even I would have agreed to, because it was like that, but I later tried planting a curry leaf sapling in the middle and six garlic cloves approximately where the coriander were. They grew fine for few months and within the last two months, all garlic plants slanted downward and died. Since a year elapsed, I'd expect the soil to be firm now. Surprised they died. Curry leaf plant is doing fine. Am suspecting a black ant's nest in the soil may be a possible problem. – Nav Nov 8 '19 at 12:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.