Damping-off is a common deep water culture disease that can affect early life plants.


Cause of Damping Off

Damping-off can be from several types of fungi, namely Pythium. Pythium is the most common for hydroponics. In order for the fungi to thrive and attack your plant, it needs several specific contributing factors to grow.

Contributing Factor #1

Your growing medium (coco pod) is too wet. Grobo has designed a solution to fight damping-off automatically as we only fill to the middle water level sensor when the seedling is most susceptible. 

Signs of Damping-off

  1. The disease will attack your plants at the bottom of the stem, just above the growing medium line. The fungus will weaken the stem, and potentially kill it if left untreated. Make sure to check the stem first
  2. Where the stem meets the coco pod, the stem is 'bowed' in (i.e. thinner in the middle and thicker above and below)
  3. The plant is tipping over
  4. Leaf chlorosis (i.e. yellowing)


This case of damping-off showed a lot of small and compact growth making it hard to see the stem.


Plant tipped over due to damping off.


The foliage of a plant suffering from damping off.


Hourglass stem snapped and tipped over.



Can We Save The Plant?

We'll give it our best shot by using the solutions below. Remove the plant if left untreated.


If you would like to overcome this environmental challenge and try to help the plant overcome damping-off, we advise the following:

  • Push your coco pod up above the reservoir lid by 1-2 inches as soon as possible. You can secure it in place by piercing the coco pod's sides with toothpicks. This will help to reduce the amount of moisture in the coco pod and hold it in place when it dries out.
  • If you have a peat pod instead of coco pod in your Grobo, please make sure the wick is removed from the holder set. 

  • Sprinkle 10ml (20 drops) of 3% strength hydrogen peroxide onto the coco pod. The hydrogen peroxide will kill the fungus. There is no guarantee this will save your seedling, as the damage has already been caused.
  • You may need to give the pod additional support depending on how much damping-off took place. We suggest using toothpicks to help hold the pod in place, like in the photo below.



Here are some prevention tactics for how to deter damping-off in the future:

  • In Germination, do not water your coco pod after its initial planting. This will help deter moisture build-up, which feeds fungi development.
  • Once your plant's root system has touched the water in your reservoir, push your coco pod up above the reservoir lid by 1-2 inches, securing it with toothpicks to make sure it doesn't slide down. 

We have seen plants recover from damping-off and the growers complete a successful harvest. If you are experiencing this and it is caught early enough the plant can recover from it.


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